Setting Our Sights on Reading

Did you know that about half of all the texts we read are made up of the same 100 words? This is an important fact to keep in mind as we guide children towards becoming independent readers. 

Children acquire reading skills most effectively when they are fully immersed in language through a variety of pathways, from read-alouds to explicit phonics instruction to print exposure in their environment. Given that we know there are a group of commonly-used words that appear more frequently than others when we read, the automatic recognition of these specific words is another powerful pathway to improving children’s reading fluency and confidence. The Seeing Stars Sights Words list includes the 1000 most commonly-used words in the English language. By giving children the opportunity to memorize these sight words, we are empowering them to be able to read autonomously.

Typically, it is most effective for children to practice about ten unknown sight words at a time as they move through the list. If your child can quickly read a word on the first try, there is no need to practice that word. Having fun with these sight words will help your child to better remember them, so encourage your child to incorporate their words into play. Here are some ideas of how to get started. On your marks, get sight, go!

  1. Hide and Seek: Hide sight word cards around the house and have your child read you the word each time they find a card. Give your child a turn to be the “hider” too!
  2. Tic Tac Toe: Make a tic tac toe board and put a sight word in each box. 
  3. I Spy: Spread out the sight word cards and give your child clues to help them guess which word you are thinking of. This is a great way to get your child thinking about the words in new ways.
  4. Frog Pond: Spread the cards out on the floor and call out words for your child to jump on. You can also write words on your driveway with chalk and play this game outside. 
  5. Memory: Turn some of the word cards upside down and have your child try to remember which one is which.

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