Symbol of a Nation

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Students will be able to recognize and read high frequency words with increasing automaticity.

Big Idea

Recognize and fill in sight words


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I will ask the students, “Who can give me an American symbol?”

I will select whoever raises their hand to respond to the question.

I usually have at least one student who will say the American Bald Eagle.

“Yes the Bald Eagle is a symbol of America. Who can tell me where they have seen the Bald Eagle used as a symbol?”

Once again I will select whoever raises their hand to respond.

“Those were all great places to see the Bald Eagle.”

“Bald Eagles live right here in the Chesapeake Bay area for most of the year. Hands up if you have ever seen an eagle flying around the bay?”

Usually only a handful of students have seen them.

“You have to look really hard for them. You are most likely to see them in the winter because the Osprey has migrated south. When the Osprey are here the eagles do not come out onto the Bay as much because the Osprey is their enemy and will attack them.”

“Today we are going to read a book about the American Bald Eagle.”


45 minutes

“This book is called The Bald Eagle. It is written by Norman Pearl and illustrated by Matthew Thomas Skeens. This is a non-fiction book about the American Bald Eagle. If this is a non-fiction book what can I expect to find inside this book?”

I select enough students to respond to this question to cover all of the features of a non-fiction book. If one of the features has been missed I will turn to it directly in the book and ask the students what feature is displayed before them. “Can anyone tell me the non-fiction book feature on this page?” Bold words and labels are usually the two features the students forget to mention.

“Did you know sight words are also very important? It is very true. There are sight words in everything we read. Can anyone tell me where I might find sight words?”  Why sight words?

I select as many students as necessary to cover the multitude of places where we might find sight words.

“Those were all great responses. Imagine what reading would be like if we did not have sight words. Listen to me read this sentence without the sight words.”

I turn to the back cover of the book and read the first line in the books description without sight words.

“…strong…beautiful bird…symbol…entire country.”

“Hmmm. Does that sentence make any sense?”

I select a student to respond to the question.

“No your right it does sound kind of funny. Now let’s try it with the sight words.”

I reread the same sentence using the sight words.

“This strong and beautiful bird is a symbol for an entire nation. Now does the sentence make any sense?”

 I select a student to respond to the question.

“I agree with you Rachel. The sentence makes much more sense and I understand what the author is trying to say.”

“So now do you see why I give you sight words on a ring to practice at home and play the sight word games with you here at school?”

“Great. Okay let’s go ahead and read our book.”


During reading we will discuss facts about the American Bald Eagle and review some vocabulary words we have heard before. We review words like raptor, prey, talons, etc; relating them back to our owl book.


When the book is over I explain to the students that during one of our stations today they will be sight word detectives. I tell the students they will have a word bank of sight words to choose from and it will be their job to decide which sight word completes our sentence correctly.  

“You will work with me to complete our sentences and you will record the results on your recording sheet.”  Bald Eagles Sight Word Sheet

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once the students understand the directions I send them over to the work stations one group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom environment. It sounds a bit like this:

“Station number one go have some word detective fun.

Station number two you know what to do.

Station number three hope you were listening to me.

Station number four shouldn’t be here anymore.”

These are not always done in that order so the students have to pay attention to when their station actually gets called.  


Allow the students 20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.


See a short video clip of this lesson in action - Sight word fill in lesson     Sight word fill in lesson 2     Sight word fill in lesson 3     Sight word fill in lesson 4 - more assistance group


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.   

Student sample     Student sample 2     Student sample low    You can see on my low student sample that I had to circle where the words were to go. This student could verbally tell me the words but has trouble with reading due to a vision/coordination disability. 

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me the sight word that I hold up for them. I let the students know that each student will get their very own sight word. They are to wait for their turn and not call out another person’s sight word unless they ask you for help.

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students. I do have set words for students so that each student will hopefully meet with success. For example I will have a set of easier words for my lower performing students, on grade level words for my middle group and above grade or challenging words for my high flyers.   

Once a student has told me his/her sight word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a sight word together.


10 minutes

I will call each student over during a time which fits into my classroom schedule. I usually call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

I explain to the students that I would like them to use the “magic window” to go down the list of sight words reading each word to me. If they do not know a word they can ask me and I will tell them the word. There is no time restriction on this assignment however I will make a note of the time that it took the students to complete the task. As I continue to assess students I should see an improvement in their time as they begin to recall sight words with more automaticity.

Sight Words Assessment 1      Sight Word Assessment 2

The magic window is simply an index card with the middle cut out. I then laminate it for two reasons (1) for durability, and (2) so that it appears to be more like a window for the students. I feel this tool helps the student stayed focused on the word in the window and they are less distracted by the surrounding words. See the attached for photo for a sample - Magic Window


Have the students make a bald eagle using their footprint as the body and their hand prints as the wings.   Classroom display    Bald eagle footprint and hand print samples


Students write about one thing they would do to protect the American Bald Eagle.  Bald Eagle Prompt


The Bald Eagle

By Lloyd G. Douglas

This book is part of the Welcome Books: American Symbols series. It is a great little sight word reader for higher performing students. However, having said that it is a good book for other students to look through for both information and also sight word recognition practice.



Later in the day we will watch a video clip on the American Bald Eagle.

This one on the Discovery website I like but be aware the eagles do kill a duck during the film.


Bald Eagle Video from Jeff the Zoo Guy


Bald Eagle video from the PBS kids website. The students can watch this clip on their own at the computer station.


Later in the day I will have my students exercise to The Sight Word Song rap by Harry Kindergarten. I have the students punch out the letters as he calls the letters out and they jump when the whole word is said. During the chorus I have the students’ free dance around the rug area, but know when to call their attention back ready to punch out the letters when the words come back on.