8 Ways to Teach Sight Words in First Grade

Sight words are building blocks to fluent reading.  As students learn these important words they begin "feeling" like readers. They are one of my favorite things to teach in first grade because there is so much growth that happens as students learn these words.  Over the years I've tried lots of different activities in my classroom to help my students learn sight words.  Some were AMAZING, and others, well let's just say I only did them once.  I'm excited to share my favorite activities that passed the test of time.  The ones that students loved and that really helped them!  Here are my favorite 8 ways to teach sight words in first grade.

Use these exciting ideas to help your first grade students learn and practice sight words this year.

Teaching Sight Words

When it comes to learning sight words, repetition, and practice is so important.  It's this repetition that helps these words make their way into long-term memory. This is when we start seeing the automaticity needed for fluent reading. So before we can jump to fluency, we must first start with practice, practice, practice!

I like using many different activities when I teach sight words.  I try to choose a variety of activities that get students to use different senses as they learn.  This really helps students of different learning styles.  And . . . they are fun too!

#1 - Letter Clapping 

Letter clapping is an easy and fun activity that you can squeeze into any part of your day. The activity is great to begin a reading lesson with or use during transition time. All you have to do is clap out the letters as you practice spelling a sight word. It's almost like a sight word cheer! I like to project the word in the front of the room.  Students will read the word, then spell the word and clap out each letter, then say the word again.  The students always enjoy the activity and it is a great way to engage those auditory and kinesthetic learners.

Use fun, total physical response activities like hand clapping to help your students practice saying and identifying letters in sight words.

#2 Watch Videos

I love using videos in my classroom.  There are so many wonderful educational videos that you can find online. It's a great, free resource you can use.  There are lots of great sight word videos available on YouTube that students love.  Make sure to preview any videos you use just to make sure they are classroom-appropriate.  Videos are easy to incorporate into the morning meeting, keep them bookmarked for those extra couple of minutes before lunch or as a brain break.  Once students know the song they can also do them during transition times too!

By far, our favorite sight words videos are those from Heidi Butkus.  The songs are a great tool for learning and remembering how to read and spell the sight words. My class always loves singing the songs and we incorporate our words of the week into our daily schedule.  Check out this video from Heidi's sight word song collection.

If you are looking for more sight word videos you can also check out:

#3 Word Walls

I'm sure you are probably already familiar with word walls. Almost every elementary teacher has one in their classroom.  But don't just use your word wall as a static display.  Instead, interact with it! One of our favorite classroom activities is reading the word wall. A few times each week we read the word wall together as a class. A student gets to choose how we read the word wall. Some days we jump as we read each word, and other days we read it in our best pirate voice.  I also let the student choose where to start.  Sometimes we start at the beginning, other times we go backward and sometimes we jump around the alphabet. With a student leading the activity, it was always a fun and engaging way to practice reading sight words.

When we aren't reading the word wall, I use it as a teaching tool.  I refer to the word wall often during our lessons.  I model how to use the word wall as a tool during writing.  And most importantly . . .  I teach students to use it on their own when they are working independently.

A word wall like this is a great way to keep your sight words in a handy place for your students to view and practice any time of day.

Every week as we learn new words we add them to the word wall.  The kids love to watch as the wall grows. I love to use these Fry Sight Word Flash Cards for my word wall. It's so easy to print them out and have all the words I need for the entire year.  They are also great for practicing with a pocket chart or using in a center activity too!

#4 Practice With a PowerPoint

Reviewing sight words with a PowerPoint slideshow is a great way to do "digital" flashcards.  What's even better than traditional flashcards is that the words are big enough that everyone can see them all around the room!  You don't need anything fancy for this activity.  Just open PowerPoint, add a text box and type the sight word.  Then do the same thing on the next slide for the next word.  Each week I just make a new slide with our new sight words. 

Practice sight words as a class with a fun PowerPoint slideshow like this.

You can use the PowerPoint in many different ways. We like to scroll through the slides and read the words as we go.  You can scroll through slowly or quickly depending on your learning goal.  When working on reading fluency I speed up a little.  You can also add in a motion as you read or play a game.

I also like to create a slide at the end of the presentation with all of our sight words on it. It is fun to play "swat it" with this slide. Have different students come up to your board with a fly swatter. Call out a sight word and have them swat it quickly! This game is always a hit!

#5 Teach Sight Words with Games

It's always fun to learn through game play. My students love playing Don't Eat Me Mr. Crocodile. It's a fun, fast-paced card game that they really get into. 

BINGO is always a hit! This Sight Word Bingo Activity is great for building sight word fluency. I love to play it with my entire class or use it in small group instruction. It includes four games with calling cards and game boards.

Turn learning sight words into a game with an engaging BINGO game.

Go Fish! is another class favorite. This classic card game is a great addition to centers because students can play independently. It is such an engaging way to get in that repetition that is so important when learning sight words.  

#6 Building Words

I love to throw in magnetic letters whenever I can for a word-building activity. The tactile approach to learning really helps a lot of my students while building fine motor skills too! All you need is a cookie sheet and this Magnetic Letter Word Cards Activity. This sight word spelling activity makes a great word work center!

The students love working on reading and spelling the sight words.  As they learn the spelling, I like to throw some scrambled word cards into the mix for an extra challenge. Students will unscramble the letters to spell the word. And . . . if they need some extra help, this is a great time to use the word wall as a reference tool.   

Use magnetic letters and sight word cards like these for hands-on spelling practice your students will love.

#7 No Prep Practice

Let's be honest! We all need a no-prep resource every now and then to give ourselves a break and lighten the prep load. This set of the first 100 Fry Words is great to use daily for morning work, a sight word center, or even homework. The engaging practice will keep your students busy and learning. 

On this one-page activity students will practice reading spelling and writing their sight words. And for a single activity, it provides a lot of repetition!  

No prep worksheets like these are great for independent practice, center work, or even to send home for even more sight word practice for your first grade students.

I like having all 300 Fry words on hand so that I can quickly and easily differentiate for the needs of my students. It's so easy to grab the page that corresponds to the words each reading group is working on. 

Click here to grab a freebie and test these out in your classroom to practice sight words!

Grab this FREE Fry Sight Word no prep worksheet practice to use in your classroom today!

#8 Boom Cards

Boom cards are so fun and interactive. These digital task cards are a great way to engage students using technology. But it's not just techy fun - these skills-based activities will have your students reading and spelling sight words.  This fun and engaging sight word activity is perfect for a no-prep center, technology time, early finishers or even to assign for at home practice.

Boom cards like these are a great way to get in some extra sight word practice with a digital twist your students will get excited about.

Each Boom Card Deck has 3 different activities for each set of 10 words. Your kiddos will identify words, spell them, and locate them in a sentence. It's tons of fun!  And ... this Bundle, which includes the first 100 Fry words, gives you all the activities for all 100 words.  That's enough for all year long!

Sight Word Fun

These eight activities are my "go-to's" for sight word practice in my classroom.  We may not do every activity for every word, but we rotate through all of these activities, and more, all year long.  This contact variety keeps the students engaged and excited.  I hope you found some new sight word activities you can add to your classroom routine!

If you love these ideas and are looking for more be sure to check out my store! I have tons of different activities and resources for you to use in your classroom. Click here to check it out. 

Save these Activities for Teaching Sight Words!

Be sure to pin this image to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can always refer back when you are looking for sight word activities. 

Make practicing and learning sight words fun and exciting for your first grade students with these awesome activities. Whether you are focusing on spelling, identifying letters, or learning sounds, these sight word practice activities will help your students learn their sight words in engaging ways your students will love. Be sure to grab the Fry Sight Words FREEBIE to use in your classroom today! #thechocolateteacher #sightwordpractice #sightwordactivities #frysightwords

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