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How to teach sight words

Sight words, also called high frequency words, are tricky. There are at least 6 known strategies for teaching sight words and probably hundreds of variations. How well each one works may depend on the individual learner. Regardless of the chosen strategy, a fundamental ability for any learner is the process of putting letters together to make a word.

Putting letters together - from left to right, in the correct order, using the correct letters - is one of the first abilities we attempt to teach in a students journey towards becoming a successful reader. It also seems like this step in the process can sometimes be a little neglected, especially when it comes to sight words. Think about that for a second... we often toil through sight words. They aren't fun. Some of them really don't even have a physical meaning and are abstract concepts. Take the kindergarten sight word "could" as an example. Reading this, we know what could means. It's more difficult to help that word make sense to a kindergartner. We can point at a car, we can show pictures of a car, we can ride in cars. What can we do with could?

Sight words, in general, are hard to spell out. Normal phonetics don't apply. Take the first grade word "there" as an example. Phonetically, it doesn't make sense. It's spelled like it should sound "Ta-ha-er-ee."

This level of complexity ultimately has led to variations of memorization, or being able to recognize the word by sight. Hence, sight words. Strategies range from see/say, arm taps, writing the word in the air, spell reading, writing the word, and all sorts of ways to help the memorization process.

If teaching memorization so that a student learns a word by sight, how can they recall the word easily if they don't see it to begin with? This gets even more complicated in the special education setting.

There are some pretty awesome ways teachers have come up with to teach sight words. I've seen the sight word sticks, manipulatives-based sight word strategies, some pretty cool games, and even fluency phrases. Outside of that, many of the strategies utilize some variation of the 5 previously mentioned. Reading Rockets, the national multimedia project targeting literacy put out A New Model for Teaching High-Frequency Words (Linda Farrell, Michael Hunter, Tina Osenga, 2019) and this model appears to be effective.


Here is a non-memorization strategy that builds the "putting letters together to make words capacity" and helps your learners recall words, not just memorize them by sight.


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Videos packages are in bundles and practice packs.


The Different Avenues strategy provides high impact videos that build sight words in under 1 minute and 35 seconds. The videos can play on nearly any device. Each video starts by showing the student the word, splits the word apart letter-by-letter, color-coordinates each letter, and then rebuilds the word using the same color-coordinated arrows with specific movements. Color-coordination allows for multiple points of reference and the same color coding is used in every video, every time. The first letter and arrow is always red, second letter and arrow is always blue, etc. Videos are also sound free. Below is one of the 256 available videos.

Videos can be purchased individually if a kiddos is having trouble with just one word or in packs and bundles. The packs and bundles have accompanying printable material. Printables allow your learners to create what they have just watched, on paper... building words letter-by-letter. Printable material includes color-coordinated arrows, letter blocks, color-in letter blocks, tracing letter blocks, and flash cards so your class can replicate exactly what they have watched.


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Integrating these resources into your daily word work is simple. You can start your lesson by playing a video and then carrying on with other methods or go from the video to building sight words on paper using the printable material. You can use the videos as a quick intervention strategy if one of your kids are having trouble. You can pull out your phone or tablet and hit play for a quick refresher on how to build the word of the day, and more.

The difference between the practice packs and bundles is that the bundles include the "source code" or original template to create as many other 2 to 5 letter word slideshows/videos as you need. The practice packs do not have the master template.


Which pack or bundle are you going to get?

Practice Packs (no source code template)

Preschool Sight Word Practice Pack

Kindergarten Sight Word Practice Pack

1st Grade Sight Word Practice Pack

2nd Grade Sight Word Practice Pack

3rd Grade Sight Word Practice Pack


Bundles (includes source code template)

Pre-K to Kindergarten Bundle

2nd Grade Bundle

3rd Grade Bundle

Sight Word Videos Only Bundle (contains no printables)

Pre-K to 3rd Grade Mega Bundle (contains everything available)

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