15 Playful Ways to Learn Sight Words

15 Playful Ways to Learn Sight Words

A whiteboard with magnetic letters that read SIGHT WORDS

Sight word practice- love it or loathe it, it’s a pretty important part of learning to read.
How do you help your littles learn their sight words?

Why are sight words important?
As the name suggests, sight words or high frequency words are so called because they occur frequently in texts and the goal is for your child to recognize them on sight.

Reading is a really complex process that requires the use of many different strategies.
Sight word recognition is one of these strategies that kids can rely upon to read a text.

Why is this important?

  • Many sight words do not follow basic phonic principles, so they can’t be sounded out.
  • They enable fluent reading. Reading is a laborious and complex process. Knowing words upon sight, means that beginning readers do not need to decode every single word. Decoding every single word affects the flow of the reading. Fluent reading aids comprehension which is the ultimate goal of reading. Knowledge of sight words allows energy to go towards comprehension not decoding.
  • They promote confidence.

What is the best way to learn sight words?
Practice, practice and repeat!

The more opportunity your child has to play with these words, practice them and spot them in texts, the better.

Learning with Manipulatives

I Spy Bottle

This is a fabulously portable activity that is super simple to make. Fill a dried-out water bottle with rice and sparkles. Write sight words onto small pieces of card and insert into the bottle. Kids have to shake the bottle up to uncover different words. A great activity to keep in the car so that your children can practice their sight words en route to swimming lessons, piano lessons, etc.

Write letters on the side of Duplo pieces. Children can connect the pieces to create words. A great way to highlight letter formation as well. Make sure to use long pieces for the “tall” letters (like k, l, t) and the letters with ‘tails’ (like y, g, and p.) Use the smaller pieces for letters that only have a “body” (like a, e, c, o.)


Magnets are always a favourite in the classroom. When teamed with a whiteboard, this is a great way for children to practice “read it, build it, write it.
Children read the word aloud. They build it with magnets and then write it. This would be a great activity to organise on the fridge door. Your little reader can practice whilst you get on with organising dinner.

Learning Sight Words Through Sensory Play

An oldie but a goldie. Get your reader to trace their sight words into the playdough, using a finger or a paddle pop stick.
They could also roll the playdough into logs and form the letters of the sight words. Lots of fine motor development happening at the same time! We love this playdough recipe.

Paint in a Bag
Squirt some poster paint into a sandwich bag. Seal the bag and cover with duct tape to ensure it is sealed tightly. Give your reader a cotton bud and let them trace their words into the paint. Watch the words disappear!

Shaving Cream
Cover a baking tray in shaving cream and let your child use their “finger pencils” to write their sight words.

Paint with Water
A no-mess activity. Equip your child with a container of water and a paintbrush. Let them “paint” their words on the exterior of the house, on the driveway, on the fence… This is also a great activity for bath time if the clock has beaten you and you didn’t manage to fit in sight word practice in the afternoon madness.

The above activities are also great for fine motor development?
Need some playful ways to develop fine motor skills? Here you go!

Learning Sight Words Through Movement

Chalk and Trampoline
Get your reader to write their sight words in chalk on the trampoline. They have to jump on the word that you call out. A great way to get kids to use up their energy whilst completing their homework.

Visit the AUSLAN Signbank and get your children to spell their sight words using finger spelling.

Have your child write their sight words on index cards or scraps of paper. Lay them out on the floor and play Twister. “Put your left hand on the word ‘from.'” You could also play this with chalk on the driveway.

Learning Sight Words With Games

One of the most popular sight words games I’ve used in a classroom. Children choose a card from a pile of sight words. If they can read the word, they keep the card. Interspersed through the pile are some BANG! cards. If you draw a BANG! card, you have to put all your cards back into the central pile. The person at the end of the game with the most cards, wins. I first saw this ideas over at K3 Teacher Resources.


Cardboard fish shapes with sight words written on them to make a game.

Cut out some fish shapes. Write sight words on the fish and place a paper clip on each fish. Create a “fishing rod” with a ruler, string and a magnet and kids can “fish” out the sight words they recognise or the words that you specify.

Another oldie but a goldie. Write sight words twice onto pieces of card. Turn all cards word-side down. Readers have to find matching sight words.

Create a bingo card with a list of sight words. As you call out a word, your reader has to locate it and cover it on their game board. (This is a fun one to rope all family members into!)

Sight Word Sticks

Write all sight words on some craft sticks or paddle pop sticks. Place them in a jar and your little one has to pull out a stick and read the word. To add another level of fun, set a timer. See how long it takes for your reader to read all the sight words. See if they can beat their record each time.

The key to learning sight words is to practise, practise, practise. And then repeat. And repeat again. Feel free to vary your prompts. You don’t need to be continually asking “Where is the word ‘the?’ Where is the word ‘from?’
You can help your child identify the patterns in words and the way words work by asking things like,
“Find me a word ending with -ey.”
“Where is a word starting with the sound th-.”
“Find me a three letter word beginning with b-.”

Above all, sight word practice should be fun. Otherwise it just feels like rote learning.

This post first appeared over at Mumtastic.

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Sight word practice is an important part of learning to read that can feel like rote learning. Here are 15 playful ways to practice and learn sight words.