In order to be fluent readers, students need to be able to recognize sight words quickly and accurately as these words make up between 50-70% of the words we encounter in text. Students who struggle learning sight words greatly benefit from using a multi-sensory approach to teaching. The term “multi-sensory” means using all the different senses at the same time. Using this approach to teaching increases the likihood that the student will remember the word. When teaching sight words this coming year, try using a variety of multi-sensory materials during your small group intervention or within your literacy centers. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Craft Sand- Students love writing their sight words in sand! Admittedly, it could be a bit messy, but a little planning can help. You’ll have to experiment with the different sand textures. Some of the first sand I puchased was a little dusty and made more of a mess. The sand I use now has more of a pebble-like feel. My local butcher generously donated a packet of small foam meat trays. Using a plastic funnel (purchase in the arts and crafts section) is useful in getting the sand back into the container.
2. Bendaroos- Benadroos are wax covered sticks that can be bent into any shape. They are the less expensive option to Wikki Stix. I found this whole packet of Bendaroos on sale for $5.00!!
3. There are so many fun glue options nowadays. Everytime I walk through the arts and crafts section it seems like someone has invented a new puffy or glittery type of glue or paint. Try them all!
4. Play-Doh is an old favorite. In my early years of teaching (that would be before having 3 children), I used to love to make my own. I can’t believe how many recipes I tried and the colors and scents I experimented with.
5. Plastic Canvas- Maybe using plastic canvas isn’t as glittery as the other activities, but it is a great multi-sensory item! It’s quick, easy and very effective. Plastic canvas can be purchased in the needle/yarn section in most large department stores. I typically cut a sheet in half length-wise. Using a crayon, students trace the word on paper placed over the canvas. When the paper is removed, the letters of the word are “bumpy”. Using their finger, students trace the letters while saying them and then reading the whole word (“a” “n” “d” spells “and”).
6. Yarn- Another fun multi-sensory activity is to make sight words with yarn. Simply form the letters with the glue and place the yarn over the glue. You can use the free multi-sensory templates provided below.
7. Pipe cleaners- Have your students make sight words with pipe cleaners.
8. Magnetic Letters- I love magnetic letters! Your students can make words using the letters on the table or better yet a magnetic surface. Try a cookie sheet or a refrigerator if you are working with your child at home.
9. Shaving Cream- So much fun!! Usually we simply just spray the shaving cream over the table and have the students write the words. For an easier clean up, you can choose to spray the shaving cream on a tray.
Feel free to download the templates for the first 25 words of the Dolch 220 sight words. Click the following link Multi-Sensory Cards- Sight WordsList 1
Click HERE for the complete set of the Dolch 220 sight word templates, flashcards and specific instructions for introducing sight words using the multi-sensory approach.
Remember that it all begins with assessment! You’ll want to teach the words your students cannot identify. Click HERE to download a FREE sight word assessment.