Sight Words Are Fun!

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

Big Idea

Students play games to boost sight word recognition which will help develop reading skills.


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 place the globe in front of them and tell them to pack their suitcases because we are going to climb aboard our imaginary plane to head off to the country of Israel.

“This will be a long flight so be ready. We will take off from here in Maryland, fly east out over the Atlantic Ocean, fly above the continent of Africa over the Mediterranean Sea and drop down to land in the country of Israel.”

 While I was talking I moved the push pin I was holding across the areas I spoke of and then pushed the pin into the country of Israel.

“Israel is a very small country tucked in between Jordan and Egypt.” I point to the countries as I talk about them.

“Looking at Israel are we in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere?”

“That’s right we are still in the Northern Hemisphere, so what season do you think it is there right now?”

“Well done winter, just like us.”

Now I move the globe back to its resting spot on our book area shelf and take my seat in front of the students on the rug area.

“Today we will be celebrating Hanukkah. This is one of many celebrations recognized in the country of Israel. If this is a celebration what do you think the people of Israel will do?”

I use the Fair Sticks to select students to respond to the question. Once several students have had the opportunity to respond I recall a few of the responses and say, “Go on break from school, wear special clothes, eat special food, go to church - in this case a Synagogue, put up decorations, give presents or gifts; those were all good predictions. We are now going to read a book about Hanukkah to find out if you are correct.”    


40 minutes

“The book for today is called Celebrate Hanukkah: With Lights, Latkes and Dreidels. The author is Deborah Heiligman. Looking at the cover of the book what can I tell about this celebration right away?”

I select one student to respond.

“I think you are right Adam. I too think there will be candles as part of the celebration. What other celebrations have we learned about that had candles as part of their festivities?”

I use the fair sticks to select enough students to cover the celebrations we have covered so far.

“Those were all great responses. Candles definitely play an important role in many of the celebrations we have learned about. It is a commonality we share with many cultures.”

“Looking at the cover of this book I think I can predict what type of book this if going to be. Who thinks they can tell me what I am thinking?”

“Yes Rachel I do think the book is non-fiction. Can anyone tell me why I might think that?”

“That was a great response Finnley – the book has a photo on the cover and I am reading to learn new information.”

“Let’s go ahead and read our book.”


During reading I will go over new vocabulary words as we come across them within the text and also point out the commonalities between the celebrations we have been learning about.


After reading I ask the students what this book might be like if there were no sight words in it.

“Can you imagine if there were no sight words in this book? Listen to me read this sentence without the sight words”

I choose any sentence to read, “…join…friends…family…light…special candle.”

“Does that sentence make sense?”

The students usually give a collective response of, “No.”

“Your right; it sounds more like just a list of words. Now I am going to read the sentence again; this time with the sight words.”

“Each day we join with our friends and family to light a special candle.”

“Does that sentence make sense?”

The students usually give a collective response of, “Yes.”

“Your right; when I add in the sight words it gives the sentence more meaning.”

“Today at one of the stations there is a game which has many of the sight words we have been practicing both in reading work stations and on your sight word rings. You will work with your table team to select a person to go first. That person will roll the die to see how many spaces to move. If they roll a three they move three spaces. The place you land is going to have a sight word on it. You will need to tell the rest of your table team the word. If you do not know the word you have to go back to where you were. If you can read and say the word, you get to stay where you landed.”   Why sight words?

 “Does anyone have any questions?”


I bought the Hanukkah sight word game boards from the site Teachers Pay Teachers. There are four different boards of varying difficulty. With my lower performing students I use the simpler board with very basic sight words, the middle groups have harder words and my high group has the board with the most difficult words.  

One of the game boards     Another of the game boards     

Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some sight word fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 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. 

Students playing the game 1     Students playing the game 2     Students playing the game 3   Students playing the game 4

Students playing the game movie 1     Students playing the game movie 2


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.

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. 


At one station we will play the game of Dreidel – Each student will get 10 pennies (we use actual pennies to play the game and discuss addition and subtraction as we go), a paper plate to keep their pennies on and we use a raised side tray to make sure the Dreidel does not spin off the table.


At another station the students make Latkes – the recipe is in the book we read during the focus lesson.


At another station the students work on making a Paper Plate Menorah Craft.  


Play the hide the Gingerbread Man sight word game. Sight Word Game