Introducing New Sight Words [Sight Word Lesson Plan Day 1]
Being a self-professed wordsmith, it was a little hard to get into the idea of sight words my first year of teaching. Fresh out of college in my first year teaching, I was all about the love of reading–if I could just get kids to love reading, everything else would follow.
Fast-forward to present day when I know that a balanced literacy approach is where it's at– and while the love of reading opens major doors, we need to give our students the keys to unlock the little ones along the way too.
Fortunately, it didn't take me long to realize the benefit of high-frequency words in my budding readers. In fact, when I made the decision to temporarily homeschool Teddy last year, sight words were the first item on my agenda.
Here's what that looked like and how it's going.
At the beginning of the year, I compiled a list of words that I expected Teddy to learn by the end of the year. I loosely followed Fry's First 100 words for guidance, in addition to the Dolch Primer list. I’m moving more away from traditional sight word instruction with a heavier emphasis on phonics, so I try to start the year with words that can be read phonetically. You can download the list of words I used here:
Every week, I choose 2-3 words from the list and put them on our bulletin board adjacent to the word wall. (Side note: I don’t add the new words to the word wall right away, but keep them “on deck” on clips right next to the word wall. This way, we have a specific place for our new words. After one week, they are moved to the word wall.)
We then do a quick 4-step procedure to “meet” our words and start getting familiar with them.
Part 1: Meeting our new words
I’ll be honest. At first, this seemed corny. And this is honestly the conflict with a lot of early elementary stuff. Our students develop on such a wide spectrum that with students like my son, who is 6 going on 76, I sometimes worry typical activities are a little too “babyish” for him.
Color me SHOCKED when this became his favorite part of our week. The kid lives for meeting new words. In fact, he enjoyed this part so much that I ended up making digital slides of the same introductory routine. It's really so fun.
Part 2: Word Talks for Building Connections
Following this ritual for both words, we have a word talk to share what we notice about the words. For example, we noticed last week that the word ‘little' is the longest word he has learned so far this year, which is ironic given its meaning. Sometimes these quick talks can result in a solid connection that cements the word way sooner in his brain than simply giving basic instruction.
Part 3: Using sight words in a sentence
Let me help you with your sight word instruction!
You can grab the 100 word list below. It contains the word list to get started teaching sight words in Kindergarten or 1st grade. Sign up to get those free right here:
I've created a blog series and a sight word start toolkit that contains everything I reference in these blog posts:
Organizing Your Sight Word Materials
Day 1: Introducing New Sight Words
Day 2: Learning Sight Words With Books
Day 3: Learning Sight Words With Stations
Day 4: Icon Reading for Young Students
Day 5: Sight Word Assessment + Motivation
20 Free Sight Word Activities That Work With Any Word List
You'll also want to check out my blog series about word walls here:
I Tried a Digital Word Wall and Here's What Happened
One Word Wall, 3 Ways: Which One Works Best For You?