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All About SIGHT WORDS!



Happy Hump Day friends!  We're over half way through the week.... you got this!

We've officially hit that point in the year where I am thinking "oh.my.word...... I still have soooooo much to teach and so little time!"   Some light bulbs are starting to turn on in little minds.... some readers are progressing and moving right through the levels.... and some students are still trying to get out of the learning rut to make strides and hit that intended goal!

When I think of this "goal" or the progress that I'm looking for, I think of reading!  My little kinder kiddos are really showing progress and growth, but there is still that small handful that just really need extra support and attention daily to meet these goals!

One of the biggest hurdles to climb over in emergent readers... is knowing and identifying those little tricky sight words!  So today's post is ALL about those fun and pesky little SIGHT WORDS.... and helping our students climb that hurdle to master them!



Did you know.... that 89% of our oral and written language is SIGHT WORDS?!  It's true.... and 95% of the words within a Level A-C leveled book... is a SIGHT WORD... that's a pretty high percentage if you ask me!   It's no wonder that we really need our students to master these words!

So why do so many students struggle with identifying these words?  

Well.... research tells us that students (and even some adults!) need AT LEAST 20 exposures to something before it goes into their working memory!  TWENTY!   So think about your sight word exposures in your classroom.... are you exposing your students to a sight word 20 times before you move on or expect mastery?  Even if you only expose one time a day.... you are falling WAY short!

In a nutshell - we need AT LEAST 4-5 exposures a day if not more for our students to see and use a sight word to expect any type of mastery.


Recently I went to my Facebook page and asked teachers how many sight words their students are expected to know by the end of the school year.

The range of numbers varied greatly, anywhere from 25 to 220 for KINDERGARTEN.....  WOWZA!

Developmentally.... (and I'm sure there are critics on this!).... but there is no reason for a kindergartner to have to learn 220 sight words by the end of kindergarten, yet only be expected to reach a reading level of C or D!  It just doesn't match up!

When you look at research, typically.... every 10-15 mastered sight words can be a reading level.   So if you have a student on a Level A, the student should be able to identify and read around 10 sight words. Level B - around 20, Level C - around 30+ words ,etc....

If your end of year promotional requirement is a level D, then the student should typically master between 40 - 60 sight words.  

Now.... I know that districts and people above the teacher's pay grade are making these decisions for the curriculum in which you are required to teach..... trust me!  I know there is no kindergarten teacher out there saying.... "OOOOHHHHH I can't wait to teach my kids 200 sight words this year"

BUT.... we can't really change what we are told to teach.... we can only change HOW we are going to teach it!  

SO......  think back to the 20+ exposures for mastery!  Take this sample schedule into consideration:


Every single day, students should be exposed to the word in isolation AND in context!  They should have it read to them and reading it themselves.  They should see it, say it, spell it, and write it!  All of that takes less than 5 minutes AND can easily be done in your small groups, morning meeting, or even the beginning of a lesson!

Students can write it in the air, dry erase boards, journals, build it with letter tiles, shaving cream, pencils/markers, etc.... any type of exposure to writing and reading!

THEN you can incorporate in some fun sight word activities..... chants, word wall fun, fix and mix the word, sight word STEM, interactive pages, etc...

If you can stick to a consistent routine with your sight words, exposure will come naturally and so will success!

What are some activities that you can do?  Great question!

I definitely try to incorporate sight words into my morning message, but most importantly my small groups and learning/literacy stations!

I have a growing collection of sight word activities including my most recent... Sight Word STEM!  My kiddos absolutely LOVE building and designing sight words with various materials!  

Another little research fact..... did you know that a LARGE percentage of students who are behind or not meeting standards with peers, often struggle with fine motor skills as well?   HELLO sight word STEM.... you are meeting multiple needs!



All you need for this to happen:  different materials for building and the sight words you want them to build!  

I've created an ENTIRE pack for the first 100 fry words (as well as blank templates and cards!) that can help you with this!

I have designed this for multiple abilities.... beginning readers to have the support mats (featured in orange above!), simple building cards (in pink!), and advanced in context (in green)!

Check out the examples below for each part:


These mats are generic and can allow students to use with any word or material!

These support mats are perfect for your young and emergent readers!  A basic outline is provided for support as well as a writing area.  Students can select their material.... and build away!  (all 100 fry words are included!)

Simple sight word building cards are also included and give students the freedom and creativity to build their sight words.


This option if PERFECT for your readers to identify words in context.  A simple sentence is given and students must select the correct sight word to complete the sentence from the three choices!  Students can circle it, write it, and build it!

You can grab the complete SIGHT WORD STEM pack by clicking HERE.

Another great tool that I have been using and recently created is the Sight Word Intervention Binder, which also includes the first 100 Fry Words.


This tool is perfect to incorporate multiple activities and exposures with ONE sight word!

Students will:

- read the word,
- build the word
- write the word
- identify in isolation
- identify in context 
- trace the word
- construct the word

All of the materials are provided except the binder itself, the pointer, and the building materials!



You can check out the SIGHT WORD INTERVENTION pack HERE.

Do you sing or chant with your kids?   

DID YOU KNOW - that when content is put to lyrics or a rhyming musical pattern, it is 90% more likely to be retained?!  

After reading this research a few years back, I wrote a song for EVERY.SINGLE.SIGHT WORD in the first 100 Frys word list!

This is just an example of a song....  "THE" (pictured above!)

You can grab the COMPLETE set of songs.... HERE!

- - - - - 

One of the things that we often forget to do while teaching sight words.... is TRACKING sight words.

There are so many tracking tools out there, but this one is a generic tracking tool I use that doesn't really focus on specific words, but more so the amount of words a student has mastered!


You can easily use stickers, paint dabbers, initials, etc...  to mark and show the number of words a student has mastered.   I've included TWO different versions (counting by5's to 50 and by 10's to 100 - depending on the number of words needed to master!)

You can grab this tracking tool by clicking HERE!


NEED MORE SIGHT WORD ACTIVITIES?  Check out all of the sight word packs and activities (some are FREE!) by clicking HERE.


Sooooo... sight words can definitely be tricky and frustrating.    BUT... if you are only exposing once a day (or less!) then there is a reason to be frustrated!

Students need constant exposure and various activities to master these words!  Make it FUN, meaningful, and engaging... and you are sure to see success!

Feel free to contact me with any questions :)

Have a great rest of the week!!




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Jessica Travis
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