Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sight Words Galore! Navigating Our Way Through a Lengthy List

My blog has been a bit dusty and cobwebby since the beginning of December, hasn't it? Life during the holidays always gets crazy and my poor blog has been neglected... till now!

The start of December brought some new challenges for my students trying to master all of their sight words. This is when our reading curriculum begins introducing 6 new sight words a week. They were doing wonderfully with their sight word fluency when there were only 1-2 words per week; as we could really dive in and do a lot of different activities focusing on those couple of words. But I have to say, 6 sight words a week is a lot for kindergarten students to master all at once - especially when many of the words are some of the more difficult sight words to read. By the time we finish introducing the six new words, finding time to only dive in with specific activities for a couple of the words before week's end, there is a whole new group of words to introduce and teach the following Monday. It's easy for past words to get lost in the shuffle when you are busy trying to learn all new ones.

To help combat the massive sight word list, my kindergarten team began sending sight word flash cards home - a new set every Monday - with the hopes that parents would help supplement and support their reading at home. I'm happy to say, the majority of families seem to have jumped on board. To help with accountability, we added a box to our daily responsibility sheet for the parents to check off if they practiced their sight words at home each night.

We have noticed such a big difference in sight word reading fluency from this year to last just by implementing this simple change. The great thing is, the kids love showing their families all the words they know how to read, so it doesn't feel like extra work to them at all!

Whether or not you have to teach your kids 1, 2, or 10 sight words a week, there are a lot of quick and easy ways to provide engaging instruction to help your little learners practice and learn these words. One thing I absolutely love to get my students involved with is shared writing. It is SUCH an important strategy for beginning readers and writers. By "sharing the pen", it gives your students practice in writing, spelling, sentence building concepts such as spaces and punctuation, and more. I've also noticed that it gives them tons of confidence! While doing a shared writing activity with my students earlier in the week, I had just introduced their 6 new words for the week and asked them to come up with sentences using our new words. The picture below shows our very first day of creating sentences using our brand new words, and they totally blew me away! They came up with sentences that made sense and used the words correctly. I wrote all of our new words at the top of my board as a sort of word bank. Then, each time we used one of the words in a sentence, we crossed it out to remind us that we had already used it. If a word the student used was a sight word we had learned during the year, I simply wrote a blank line. If I came to a word that was not a sight word, I wrote it out myself (kind, train, going, etc.). I then pulled popsicle sticks with students' names on them and they came up to the board and filled in the blanks with the sight words. This activity took us all of 10 minutes during carpet time, with no prep involved whatsoever!

I love using whiteboards for sight word activities. It keeps the students engaged and requires every student to participate in reading and writing the words. Sometimes I'll call the entire class up for a chance to write on my "big white board" (which they freak out about, by the way):

But my favorite go to resource during whole group instruction is individual whiteboards. The possibilities are endless as to ways you can have your students practice writing their words or using them in a sentence. Here are a few quick and fun activities that you can implement in your classroom:

1. Window Notes

Your students can create their own graphic organizers to practice multiple sight words at once. Have them draw two crossed lines to create four windows. Then, call out one word at a time for your students to write. They write the word in the first window note, then practice spelling and reading the word aloud. Then, have them turn to a neighbor and read the word to them. Continue with 3 more new words until the window notes have been filled.

2. "Your Turn, My Turn"

I created the game "Your Turn, My Turn" off the top of my head one day when I needed something more engaging for my class to do on a particularly wiggly day for them. On a side note, do you ever notice that some of the best lesson plans and teaching moments come totally on the fly? I know it can't just be me! Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out and you need to switch it up a bit. I'm grateful for that happening on this day, because my students absolutely loved playing it so much that they didn't even realize they were doing some great learning!

Here's how to play: Have students get into groups of two, each one with an individual whiteboard. Give each student a different sight word and have them write it on their board. Assign each student in the groups to be either partner #1 or partner #2. Partner #1 will hold up their whiteboard to their partner, then each partner will take turns saying a letter from the word. Example: For the word "many", Partner #1 says "m", then Partner #2 says "a", then Partner #1 says "n", then Partner #2 says "y". This is where the "Your Turn, My Turn" title comes into it! After a partner has said the last letter in the word, then they both read the entire word together. "Many!" They continued this game back and forth with various sight words we had learned.

After we played a few partner rounds, I had every student stand with their word board around the carpet; then took turns having each student hold their board in the air. Whichever word was in the air, that's the one they had to read out loud. 

3. Create-a-Sentence

Give your students a sight word and have them write it in the corner of their whiteboard. Then, have them create or copy a sentence using the word, making sure to emphasize using capital letters, finger spaces, and a period at the end. Challenge them to underline the sight word they used to make sure they didn't forget it. After they write it, students can use pointers to track print and read their sentence aloud to practice fluency.

Besides whiteboards, there are other fun ways to get your kids to practice reading and writing their words all throughout the year. You can use interactive notebook activities, such as these super simple print-and-go words:

Or make a fun monthly themed center activity, like a Sight Word Pumpkin Patch (my teammate's marvelous idea):

Or use wearable sight words, such as these Sight Word Watches from The Moffatt Girls!

We also started having our students do "High Five Sight Words" before they are allowed to enter or exit our classrooms. They have to high five the handprint and read the word aloud or they have to go back to the end of the line and try again! This has helped them so much! We change out the words every week!

My good friend and kinder teammate, Talia, has an entire set pre-made in her TPT store! Just print, slap up outside your door, and boom! Easy sight word assessment/practice for your little guys. Check it out in her TPT store by clicking on the picture below; and give her a follow while you're there to support her new shop!

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With the introduction of a new reading curriculum, HM Journeys, last year was the first year we had to teach so many sight words to our students. I was struggling to find any resources that went with the words we needed, so I decided to create my own. Thus, my Sight Word Sentence Builders monthly packs were born! Using the packs, my students got meaningful independent practice with building mixed-up sentences:

This set can be found in my Spooky Sentence Building FREEBIE - try it out here!

Each mixed-up sentence set comes with a recording sheet for your students to write the sentences they create, such as these:

Each pack comes with 3-4 different sets of mixed-up sentences to build - perfect for using during an entire month! There are also sets of predictable sentence activities:

As well as a Read It! Write It! Build It! Draw It! activity page for EVERY sentence used in the monthly pack! This has over 20 different versions in every set!

These activities have helped my kiddos SO much with sight words, tracking print, building sentences, sentence structure, and reading fluency. They love completing these activities during centers! They always cheer when I tell them we are doing another set for a center - that's always a good sign! Haha! Underneath each picture, I included a link to my TPT store to go directly to each product, if you think these are activities that will work well in your classroom. If you like what you see, you might want to think about grabbing the entire year long BUNDLE! It's an $8.00 savings over buying each pack separately - it's like getting an entire pack for free... plus 2 bonus dollars! Can't beat that! Click on the picture below to check it out - you'll find links to each separate monthly pack on this page as well to see all of the previews in greater detail!

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I hope you were able to take away some easy, fun, engaging ideas that you can implement in your classrooms right away!