Teaching Sight Words

A few months back I posted the 10 Activities for Learning Letters and Sounds activity kit that I developed for a few first graders who hadn’t yet mastered letters and sounds.  The idea behind the kit was to provide fun, hands-on activities for either classroom voluteers or parents to work with their child at home.  Well, since that time, those little first graders have learned their letters and sounds and are now ready to focus on sight words.  So here’s the activity kit for learning the Dolch sight words .  Of course we’ll begin with list 1 (first 25), but I’ve made the activities through list 3.


To assemble your very own kit, first print this 4-page pdf.  This file contains step-by-step directions for the teaching session as well as a recording form for your volunteer or parents to track the amount of time spent each day working with your student.

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Click the following link to download this pdf Learning Sight Words

It’s important to know which words your student knows and doesn’t know so that you can determine the specific words that require learning and practice.  Be sure to assess the student’s sight word knowledge before beginning the direct teaching sessions.  It’s also important to periodially reassess your student (progress monitoring) so that you can determine the student’s rate of growth.


Click HERE to download the FREE sight word assessment for the Dolch 220 sight words

After assessing the student,  I separate the sight word cards into 3 piles- Words I Know, Words I am Learning and Words I Will Learn.  You can make your own flashcards on index cards using the assessment form as your guide.  If you download the Multi-Sensory Teaching of Sight Words file from my TpT store, the flashcards and multi-sensory cards for all Dolch 220 sight words are printed for you.


Each session begins with a quick flashcard review using the “Words I Am Learning” ring.  If the student correctly says the word, a “+” is written on the back of the card.  When there are 5 “+”‘s (meaning the student named the word correctly on 5 separate occasions), the card is moved to the “Words I Already Know” ring.   Cards from the “Words I Will Learn” ring are added to the “Words I Am Learning” ring after being introduced with a multi-sensory activity.  Sound confusing?  It’s actually pretty easy and the system works really well.  The specific directions for moving cards from ring to ring are provided in the Multi-Sensory Teaching of Sight Words activity.

For this particular kit, I put in two quick and easy multi-sensory activities- Bendaroos and Play Doh.  You can certainly add your own favorite multi-sensory activities as there are many to choose from.  Shaving cream, glue, yarn, pipe cleaners, sand….. to name just a few.


The amount of words introduced during a teaching session depends on your student’s learning rate.  Typically, I begin with introducing two words during a session.  After awhile you will can determine if you can add more or if you need to spend time reviewing words that you introduced previously.  If your student is consistently missing a word during the flashcard drill, provide extra practice with a multi-sensory activity.



Click HERE to download the multi-sensory cards and flashcards from my TpT store

I like to quickly incorporate the sight word building activity into the teaching sessions.  You can use templates with words from the “Words I Am Learning” ring.  Finding, moving and naming the letters while building sight words is a fun way to practice the words.


Click the following link to download sample templates  5 Building Sight Words Templates


Click HERE to download the sight word templates from my TpT store

After building sight words, I want the students to have practice writing the words.  I found these dry erase boards in the education section at our local Dollar Tree.  I like these because they have the writing lines and this is perfect for students at this stage.  You get 4 dry erase strips for only $1.00.  It’s great for making multiple sight word kits.


Be sure to differentiate the writing activity. For some students, you may need to write the sight words on the top line and have him/her copy the words.  For other students, using the flashcard would be appropriate.  It’s our hope, however, that we can eventually move to just saying the word and having the student write it on the board.

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After the writing activity I like to incorporate a game.  The primary purpose of the game is to practice the words (not so much introducing new words).  When choosing the activity or the words for the activity, combine the “Words I Am Learning” and “Words I Already Know” words.   One of my all-time favorite games for practicing sight words is the Fiddle Sticks game.  All you need to make the game is a cup, large craft sticks, a black Sharpie marker and a colored Sharpie marker.

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To create the game, simply write words on the end of each stick with the black Sharpie marker.  Color the tip of one stick.  Place all the sticks word side down in the cup.  Players take turns choosing sticks and reading words.  The player who picks the colored-tip stick must put all their sticks back in the cup and play continues.  The player with the most sticks at the end of time wins the game.  So incredibly simple, but the students absolutely love it!

Here’s another simple game, but also a kid-favorite.  The Fly Swatting Sight Words game is so much fun!  You’ll have to print the sight word flies, cut them out and place a little velcro dot on each fly.  Pick up a fly swatter at any dollar store and place a strip of velcro on the swatter.  The students take turns “swatting” the flies and reading the words on the flies that stick to the fly swatter.  Sounds a little crazy, but it really is an all-time favorite.



Click HERE to download the Fly Swatting Sight Words from my TpT store.

I also like to add in activities that capitalize on students’ interest.  We have quite a few soccer players in our area so I made this fun sight word soccer game.  There’s also a football version (The Big Football Game) of this activity if your students prefer football (working on basketball and baseball).


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Click HERE to download the Let’s Play Soccer game from my TpT store.

I’ve also included a few sight word game boards into this kit.  Game boards are a quick and easy way to practice words.

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Click HERE to download the Dolch Sight Word Game Boards from my TpT store

The bottom-line purpose for learning sight words is to recognize those same word in text.  We have many students who can identify words on flashcards, but then when they come across the same word in a book, are just at a loss.  It’s very important to incorporate actual reading into your teaching sessions.   The Reading a-z high frequency words books are ideal for this purpose.  When you join Reading a-z (it’s a very reasonable yearly rate), you have access to literally hunderds of downloadable books.  You can print the books in color or in black and white.


Click HERE or on the Reading a-z picture to access their website.


Oh my goodness…this one long blog post.  I jam-packed this kit with tons of fun sight word activities and just wanted to share them all with you.  Don’t worry if you don’t have time to do them all in each and every teaching session.  How long you spend on each activity and how many activities you incorporate into a session will depend on many factors such as your student’s attention span, time you have within your classroom and your student’s rate of learning.  Just hope there are a few ideas that you can use with your kiddos who are now learning their sight words.


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A Sweet Valentine’s Day Segmenting Activity


I was shopping at one of my favorite “go-to” stores for fun holiday manipulatives and found these adorable heart gems.  It’s easy to make an activity a little more engaging by simply changing the materials. Changing the manipulatives for segmenting activities is super easy and the kiddos love it.  Gems such as these hearts work great for holidays and you can always find them in the Dollar Tree for each season.  Mini-erasers are fun too and you can find them for each holiday and sport.

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These are the gems that I found in the holiday section at Walmart.  You can use the pictured cards from the Squaring Up activity available in my TpT store if your students need the visuals.

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Click HERE to download the Squaring Up activity from my TpT store.

For students who are a little more advanced, simply say a word and have them move a gem for each sound.  Here’s a “cheat sheet” with 2-, 3- and 4- phoneme words that you can use during your small group instruction.

Phoneme Segmentation Words

Click the following link to download the free cheat sheet Phoneme Segmentation Cheat Sheet

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Teaching Blends and Digraphs

Seems like this week there’s been quite a few questions about blends and digraphs.  Teachers have been asking and wanting to know what the difference is between a blend and a digraph, which to teach first and the best way to teach these skills.  Well, with all these questions, that was motivation enough for me to finish this post that I started literally a year ago.  I’m hoping this post can answer some of these burning questions about teaching blends and digraphs.

Question 1: What’s the difference between a blend and a digraph?

Consonant Blends

A consonant blend is when two or more consonants are blended together, but each sound may be heard in the blend.  The most common beginning consonant blends include: bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fr, tr, fl, gl, gr, pl, pr, sl, sm, sp and st.  Blends can also occur at the end of words as in the word “last”.  There are also blends which contain three consonants.  Common three consonant blends include: str, spl, and spr.  When teaching blends, most teachers introduced them in groups.  For example, a teacher may choose to introduce the l-blends first (bl, cl, fl, gl, pl and sl) followed by the r-blends.  When introducing the concept of blends and digraphs, cue cards often help.  Here’s one I made with many of the consonant blends.  You can download this for free.

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Click HERE to download this freebie from my TpT store

Consonant Digraphs

In a consonant digraph, two consonants stand together to represent a single sound.  the most common consonant digraphs are: sh, ch, th, and wh.  There are other consonant digraphs (ph); however, most teachers typically introduce these 4 digraphs first as they are the most common.  They are often referred to as the “h brothers”.  Teaching digraphs can be lots of fun.  However you choose to introduce this concept, be sure to add visuals as they are so helpful especially for our struggling readers.  Here’s the cue card specifically for digraphs that I made to introduce the concept.  Specific instructions for introducing digraphs during instruction can be found in the Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack.

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Click HERE to download this cue card for free from my TpT store

Question 2: Which should be taught first?

This is a little tricky.  Some reading programs do not even teach blends as they are really two separate sounds.  Personally, I believe teaching blends is a good idea as they are letters that frequently occur together so students are learning to recognize patterns in words.  Many reading programs introduce blends before the digraphs.  I would suggest following the sequence presented in your reading series.

Question 3:  How do we teach blends and digraphs?

For all learners, but especially for struggling readers, systematic and explicit phonics instruction is critical.  “Systematic phonics instruction” refers to the sequence of phonics skills introduced.  In a phonics program, there must be a logical order of introduction of skills.  “Explicit phonics instruction” refers to how the skills are taught.  Students need instruction where the teacher is providing precise directions for teaching the skills.  Struggling readers require additional guided practice in small groups and instruction must be differentiated to meet individual needs.

My girlfriend, Jen, made this video in the summer using the teaching cards in the activity pack for me.  Jen is now a middle school principal (go figure), but prior to accepting the principalship, she was a Reading Specialists in one of our local schools.  There are many ways to introduce the concepts of digraphs.  This is just one way and I hope it helps my teacher friends who need ideas for introducing this skill.



Make, Take & Teach Resources for Teaching Blends and Digraphs

Call me crazy, but love digraphs almost as much as I love short vowel sounds.  It’s so rewarding to see our young readers begin to move beyond just single letters and sounds and move towards more advanced phonics skills.   The Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack contains 10 hands-on activities that you can use to both teach and practice blends and digraphs.  The activities are designed specifically for small group instruction and contains a 13 page teaching manual with step-by-step instructions for each activity.

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Click HERE to download the Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack from my TpT store

Volume 5 of the Cookie Sheet Challenge was designed specifically for practicing blends and digraphs.  The cookie sheet activities are great for use within literacy centers and contain activities which can be differentiated.  Students and teachers just love the colorful graphics.


Click HERE to download the cookie sheet activities for blends and digraphs from my TpT store.

Because I love those blends and digraphs, I have quite a few activities within my TpT store.  Click HERE and you’ll be taken to the Blends and Digraphs category.

The Make, Take & Teach intervention kit contains 15 activities for teaching and practicing blends and digraphs.  You’ll receive all the materials (Play-Doh, dry erase boards, etc) and printed materials (color copies on 90lb cardstock) all contained in a sturdy Sterilite container delivered to your front door.  Assembly is required.


The Consonant Blends and Digraphs Intervention Kit can be purchased from the Make, Take and Teach website.

If  you have any fun ideas for teaching blends and digraphs, please let us know by leaving a comment.  To leave a comment on this blog post, just click the title.


I (Heart) Vowels

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I know it’s a little crazy, but I really do love vowels.  It’s so important that our young readers learn those vowel sounds correctly so that they can decode words and use them correctly in their writing.  Activities which involve discriminating the vowels sounds are so helpful, especially for those students who are having difficulty hearing the difference between the similar sounding vowels.  I created the vowel sticks activity with a little Valentine twist for use during your small group instruction.  For children just learning the vowel sounds, you may opt to begin with only two vowels (begin with dissimlar sounding vowels such as the /o/ and /i/) and then gradually work up to using all five.  You simply say the vowel sound and have the students hold up the correct stick.  To add a little more difficulty, say a word with a short vowel sound (“cat”) and have the students hold up the correct vowel.

Valentine Vowels

Click the following link to download the FREE Valentine Vowels Valentine Vowels

Sorting activities are also great when teaching and practicing short vowel sounds.  I purchased these candy chocolate heart containers in the holiday/seasonal section at Walmart.  They are the small candy heart containers and I think they were less than $1 each.  You’ll need 3 as you can use both the top and bottom of the container for sorting.   For this activity, have the student name the picture and then place the pictured heart in the correct vowel container.

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Click the following link to download 16 FREE short vowel pics Valentine Vowels Sorting

Working with word families is also important for our young readers as they learn to recognize patterns in words.  When you download the Be My Valentine- Word Families activity you’ll receive 15 word family Valentine templates with 63 colorful hearts with corresponding pictures for sorting.

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Click HERE to download the Be My Valentine Word Families from my TpT store.


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Ready for Some Football?

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Ready for some football?  The big game is quickly approaching–unfortunately the Lions won’t be playing so I’m not sure who I’ll be cheering for.  Anyway, Super Bowl Sunday is really fun at our house.  We typically gather with our close friends and make a night of it.  I’m thinking maybe the Ravens?

To celebrate the big game, Kyle and I quickly whipped up a fun sight word activity.  All you’ll need to do is print the footballs  single-sided to double-sided (I usually print them on cardstock), cut them out and you’ll have a ready-made game!  This activity is easily differentiated as you choose how many and which sight word footballs to use.  To play the game, students take turns choosing footballs and reading the words.  Pick the “touchdown” or “field goal” football and the player can choose more footballs, but pick the “penalty” football and all the balls go back in the pile.  This game has been a hit with the boys!

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Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store

I love the little football that Kyle created so I also made it into a math activity for practicing addition facts to 12.  You can also modify the game for subtraction.

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Click HERE to download this freebie!

Sometimes it’s difficult to engage our little boys, especially those who are struggling.  The Race Car Blending activity has been quite popular with these kiddos.   The students blend the sounds as they are moving the car across the letters.



Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store

If you are a football fan, enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!


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