One big mistake I made during my first year teaching was that I did not spend nearly enough time on sight word instruction. Phonics? Oh yes. Comprehension strategies? You betcha. Fluency? Of course. Close reads? Heck yeah! But sight words? Not so much.
Don’t make the same rookie mistake that I did! Sight word instruction is an important piece of the reading puzzle. In fact, on average a student needs to see a word 9 times to automatically recognize it. And, that number is even greater for dyslexic students. Students need exposure to these words over and over and over again if we want them to “stick.”
So, what are sight words, anyway?
For as long as I’ve been in education, I’ve been told that sight words are irregular words or “oddballs.” Meaning, they must be taught through memorization because they don’t follow a pattern.
But believe it or not, there is no such thing as a sight word. All words have a history! They all come from somewhere. And all words are spelled a certain way for a reason. You can read the fascinating article I learned this from here.
So, when we say sight words, what we’re really discussing is high-frequency words. High-frequency words are the most commonly used words in the printed text. Over 50 percent of all text is composed of them. However, because we do want students to recognize these words automatically and by sight, we’ll call them “sight words” in this post.
A few posts back, I shared some of my absolute favorite sight word activities. That in-depth post addresses ways we can help students master sight words during small group instruction time and Word Work, including the following topics:
- Multi-sensory/hands-on learning
- Movement activities
- Repeated exposure to words
- Identifying words in context
You can read that entire post here (and be sure to download the free sight word resource while you’re there too!).
But, today I want to focus on a new sight word tool that is easy to prep and perfect for independent practice time: Fold & Focus Mini-Books.
A simple sight word solution…
Fold & Focus Mini-Books are a simple and effective way to practice high-frequency words. These books give students ample time to practice reading the sight words in isolation and in context. These are wonderful tools to help students master each sight word. They will also help students build confidence and fluency.
How do you use them?
I wanted these books to be flexible for classroom use! You can use these as quick independent practice tools or you can easily turn the mini-books into a multi-sensory, hands-on activity with the help of some manipulatives.
You can have students work on the same word at the same time or you can quickly assess to see which words they need to master and then assign them a word book.
Ideas for Use:
- Word Work practice
- independent practice
- place in book boxes to read/re-read
- put in desk caddy as an early finisher activity
- informal assessment tool
- take home and read
Each page of each mini-book requires students to interact with the focus sight word in a different way. Below, I’m breaking down each part of the mini-books.
Activity One: I Can Find
Students will read each word and color in the focus word with a crayon. What I love about this activity is that all of the words are sight words, which allows them to get in even more practice!
Students can also build the focus sight word with some hands-on tools for instant engagement!
Some of our favorite hands-on tools are:
- small wooden sticks
- dry beans
- magnetic tile letters
- small pom-poms
- little cork pieces
- small rocks or stones
- watercolor paints and paper
- dry erase markers and whiteboards
- sprinkles, sand, and rice (to write words in with a paintbrush or finger)
- paint bag (a small amount of paint with a drop of water in a Ziploc)
Activity Two: I Can Read
Students will read the sentence ladder 3 times. Then, they will circle the focus word.
Are you familiar with sentence ladders? Sometimes they are called sentence trees. These act as the perfect transition activity from reading words in isolation to reading a large passage or book. The repetitive, short sentences help make reading approachable and less intimidating.
What’s even better? I have tried my best to include other sight words in each sentence so students are getting in even more reading practice!
Activity Three: I Can Trace
Students will roll a die to see which color they will use to trace/rainbow write the focus sight word with a crayon.
To avoid this becoming a “go through the motions” or rote activity (without actually thinking about the word), I encourage you to model reading the word aloud each time as you trace with the crayons.
Activity Four: I Can Unscramble
The fourth and final activity asks students to unscramble the focus word and write it. This may be challenging for some students. Fortunately, if they need to, they can always peek back at the previous page of the mini-book to see the focus word. This will encourage students to focus more on each individual letter and the order of letters in the word.
Let’s apply their new learning…
This final step is important! Be sure you provide ample opportunities for students to practice reading their sight words in a story or passage. This doesn’t mean you have to spend time going through your library digging for books with those words in them (fortunately, most books include sight words because they are high-frequency words); it just means dedicating time for reading (Read to Self, Read to Someone, quiet reading time, etc.).
Unintentionally, we often miss this step when teaching sight words. We send home flashcards and have students memorize sight words, etc., and then move on without leaving time for application.
One of our favorite ways to apply our sight word learning is by becoming “Sight Word Detectives.” To do this, have students use a magnifying glass to locate sight words in picture books as they are reading (or “reading the pictures”). Simple enough, right?
Where can I find sight word mini-books to implement these ideas in my classroom?
Wonderful question! To help you save time and have more ease in your classroom, I’ve done all of the work for you.
You can get all 300 sight word mini-books from the Fold & Focus Sight Word Mini-Book Bundle for just $8.
This is a no-prep, print, and fold resource. Zero prep. Woo hoo!
This bundle includes every sight word from Fry’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 100 lists (this also includes all Dolch words, too!). I also provide you with an editable sheet so you can add your own sight words too if you wish.
Get all 300 Fold & Focus Sight Word Mini-Books today for just $8. Click here.
Want to try some of the books for free?
If you’re eager to try these Fold & Focus Sight Word Mini-Books in your classroom but you want to see some of the activities up close first, I’ve got a fabulous freebie for you. Click on the link below to get 10 of the sight word mini-books for free.
Have any questions? Please leave me a message or comment below. Thank you!
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P.S. If you want to see another sight word blog (and its freebies), you can click here to read it.