In the 1930s, Edward Dolch identified the 220 words that appear most frequently in written English. Over time, this list of words has become known as the Dolch Sight Word List and is commonly broken up into five mini-lists for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first, second and third grade. Sight words are words that children learn to recognize on sight rather than words which they learn to sound out letter-by-letter. By the time children finish second grade, they are expected to have mastered about 180 of those words.
Sight Word Knock Out
Sight word knock out is based on the basketball game of the same name where several players try to get a ball in the hoop before the person in front of them. Best played in a group of eight to ten, sight word knock out can be played with more students once they are familiar with the rules.
Students line up in a random order with the teacher or another student at the front of the line holding a deck of sight word cards. The first two people in line step forward, staying in their order. The teacher flashes a single word at the two students, and they race to call the word out first. If the child who is first in line get the answer first, she moves to the back of the line and the second child takes her place at the head of the line. If, however, the second child is quicker to call out the word, then she goes to the back of the line and the first child is "out." If it is a tie, they both go to the back of the line and the next two children step forward to read a new word. Play continues until only one student is left standing.
Read. Write. Repeat.
Second graders love to move. Incorporating that movement into reading practice is a recipe for success. Read. Write. Repeat. is an activity which encourages students to get up, move around and practice using their visual memories. Set up a series of five to ten stations around the classroom with colored index cards. On each card write a numeral, one sight word, and a set of simple directions on how the student should return to his seat-- for example, "Hop like a frog," or "Crawl like a baby." The student needs to remember the sight word, return to his seat, and write the sight word on a piece of paper beside the correct number. He then repeats the process with a different card. This activity is best done in small groups.
Since second graders keep track of well over 100 sight words, many teachers have students keep sight word dictionaries. Many school supply stores sell books with pages labeled alphabetically. Teachers can also make these books out of empty notebooks or folded sheets of paper. In the beginning of the year, students fill in pages for sight words they have already mastered. Entries will typically be made up of a word, broken into syllables if possible, and an example of the word used in a sentence. Some dictionaries also have space for an illustration. As students learn new sight words they enter them into their dictionaries.
Fill in the Blanks
Kids love mysteries, so fill-in-the-blank sight word activities are especially fun and engaging for young students. To prepare an activity sheet, compose a retelling of a familiar fairy tale or fable in a word processing document, taking care to use a font large enough for children to read easily. When you are finished, delete all pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade and second grade sight words from the text and replace them with blank spaces. Make a larger version of the activity sheet on chart paper or in a file that can be opened on an interactive whiteboard. Encourage students to fill in the spaces on their own papers using sight words from a class list or word wall. When students have finished, ask for suggestions to fill in each of the blanks and have students come up and write the words on the large copy or on the whiteboard.
A lifetime resident of New York, Christi O'Donnell has been writing about education since 2003. O'Donnell is a dual-certified educator with experience writing curriculum and teaching grades preK through 12. She holds a Bachelors Degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters Degree in education from Mercy College.