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Sight Word Games for First Grade

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

First graders are at an exciting stage in their learning-to-read journey. Use these fun and engaging games to teach and reinforce sight words for all levels and types of learners.

Sight Word for First Grade

First graders have a full year of classroom learning under their belts and are in the swing of things. Part of their development as readers is to read what we refer to as sight words - words they don't decode but rather know by sight. Students naturally encounter these words in the text they read, like 'the,' and 'for.' Sight word lists become more challenging as students progress, sometimes making it necessary for students to practice and memorize these words out of the context of reading.

Teachers and parents have relied on flash cards for years to help emerging readers recall sight words, but that method can often be a battle. Instead of the skill-drill format, teach sight words with these fun games. Students will think they're just playing, but you'll know they're learning in the process. Take a look.

Sight Word Games

Determine the sight words your students are ready for by giving a simple screening. Once you know their level, assign a list. Keep track of student progress and change lists when necessary. That way, children can play these same games with different words, keeping the experience fresh.

Grid Games

  • Connect Four - Make a grid (5x5 or your choice) of sight words. Make a dice with one vowel on each side. Students take turns rolling the dice and finding a word with that vowel. If they can read the word, they put their marker on the word. Play continues until one student connects four in a row.
  • Bingo - Played the simple, old-fashioned bingo way. Make more inviting by providing fun space covers. Teach students to play in centers without adult help.
  • Sight Word Guess Who - For two players. Use grid lists and matching printed cards. Slide grid lists into a pocket protector and place in a three-ring binder, held up to hide cards. Each student randomly chooses a sight word card. Players try to guess their opponents word by asking yes or no questions, such as 'does your word have an 'a'?' (Vary the game by asking students to use phonemes.) If the word has an 'a,' the guesser will use a white board marker to cross off all words NOT containing an 'a;' if it does not have an 'a,' the player crosses of all words with an 'a,' leaving only possible word choices. Play continues until one player can guess correctly.

Sensory Games

  • Play dough or clay - Have students use play dough to make sight words. Choose words from a list or card stack, make the word with dough, write on a wipe-off board, then say it.
  • Sand - Place sand in a baking sheet with sides and allow students to make the word with their fingers. Shake gently to 'erase.' Build in methods of writing and speaking, such as on a recording sheet or wipe-off board, and speaking into a reading phone.
  • Spill the Beans - Write sight words on small erasers and place in a container filled with dry beans. Students use their hands to pull out sight words, say and write them.

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