Shoot for the Stars!

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

Big Idea

Going on a “rocket” trip around the classroom looking for sight words builds foundational reading skills in a fun interactive way.


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 open a blank screen on the SMARTBoard and tell the students, “Today we are going to play two games of Hangman using your sight words. Now I want you to think of all the sight words you have on your sight word ring at home and the sight word wall here in the classroom. I am going to put lines up here on the board and that will be a big clue as to how many letters are in the sight word I have chosen. Are you ready?”

I allow the class to chant the word, “Yes!”

I use two sight words from the word wall in the classroom. I will often use one easy word like play or look and one more difficult two lettered sight word. There are many sight words with only two letters in the word, so it often takes a while for the students to get a letter on the board.

Once the game is over I have the students get up and stretch and then sit back down on their spots. This gives me a few seconds to close the SMARTBoard, get the book and sit down in front of the students.


The reason I play this game with the students is because it provides a wonderful opportunity for the students to begin focusing on the sight words they know and the letters which make up the words. “Waking up” this skill will help them when they have to go around the classroom looking for sight words they know. 


40 minutes

“Today’s book is called I Want to be an Astronaut, by Byron Barton. Looking at the title of this book can anyone tell me one sight word they know?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.

I select enough students to cover all of the sight words in the title.

When all of the sight words have been discussed we begin reading.


During reading I go over some of the vocabulary words as we come across them within the text. We review the meanings of words we have heard from previous texts. Words like; gravity,  


After reading I tell the students, “Now that we have finished reading I want to go back and read you one of the pages without reading the sight words.”

I select a random page and read the text, but I omit reading the sight words.

After I have read the page I say, “Did that make any sense?”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “No!”

“Your right. Now listen to it again but this I will read the sight words.”

I reread the page making sure to read every word on the page.

Once again I ask, “Did that make sense?”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “Yes!”

“Today at one of the integrated work stations you are going to have a recording sheet that looks like this.” I hold up a sample of the sigh word recording sheet.

Rocket Around the Room - sight word recording sheet

“It will be your job as an astronaut to “fly” in your space ship around the room and visit as many stars as possible.” As I speak I point around the surrounding area to make sure the students pick up on the fact that there are stars all over the walls, furniture and ceiling.

“When you get to a star, please look carefully at the star and see if you can read the word there. If you can, great go ahead and write it on your recording sheet.”

“If you cannot read the word, then use your resources to try and discover which sight word it is. Who can tell me the resources we could use to figure the sight words?”

I select students to respond to the request until all of the resources available have been mentioned.

“Those were all great suggestions to use to try and figure out the sight word. I can use my friends, books in book area, the sight word wall, and grown-ups who are not assisting others.”

“As I am working I need to keep in mind Mrs. Clapp will be using a checklist to go over my work to make sure I have followed the directions I was given. Did the student write their name on their work? Are there recorded words on the recording sheet? And, is the student’s work neat and tidy?”

After I have gone quickly over the checklist I ask, “Does anyone have any questions?”


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 exploring 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.”



Student writing sight words 1                                       Student writing sight words 2

Students writing the sight words


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. 




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.

Proud student with her sight word list         


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.


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.


Students use sight words and a space word bank to help them compete the writing prompt, “If I were an astronaut I would …”

Students working on the writing prompt               Student using resources

Student drawing her illustration to support her sentence


Students play a rocket ship racing game where they have to keep track of how much they need to roll on a die in order to reach the moon.

Rocket ship game               Students playing the rocket ship game


Students use their picture to create an astronaut. 

Students working on their astronaut pictures               Student working on her astronaut picture