Thursday, February 23, 2012

Learning Sight Words

As part of his reading homework, Alexander is expected to learn a list of sight words. You'd think this would be an easy enough task.

Turns out our little man wants nothing to do with sight words. He'd rather guess and wait for us to tell him the answer than learn the words. Unfortunately for him, his mom is really good at waiting it out and not telling her students the answers. We're making progress but it's definitely not an easy process.

Thanks to my good friend, Suzy (and Pinterest), Alexander is learning sight words in a fun and creative way!

Needed: One giant piece of tag board, pens, list of sight words, and two willing particpants.

Since Alexander loves trains, I adapted Suzy's idea (she used matchbox cars with her son) and made a train track, with the sight words listed along the sides of the track. I tell him the word to find from his list of sight words. He moves the train along the track until he finds the word and then he parks the train.

After he has the trains parked, I go back and quiz him on the words underneath. When he misses a word, the train leaves the track and he has to start over again.


And fun for everyone!


ElizabethB said...

No sight words! I want my nephew to be able to read!!

I have more remedial students than I need already. Plus, Mary and David don't like driving over 20 minutes, although they do love seeing Alex.

Did you know that in a Florida school where they switched from a program that used a mix of phonics and sight words to a good phonics program, the percentage of struggling readers dropped 8X, from 31.8% to 3.7%. (You can look up the study if you wish, from Sally Shaywitz's "Overcoming Dyslexia," p. 261)

Also, I've found from giving out hundreds of reading grade level tests, a failure rate of about 30 to 40% in schools that use sight words and not a single failure in the schools that use phonics (the Catholic schools in Little Rock and 1 public school where we have lived, the rest taught sight words to some degree. And, both those schools each had one failure who had transferred in from schools that taught sight words.)

Here is how to teach all but 2 of the 220 Dolch sight words phonetically:

Take an extra 20 minutes and teach a few rules, save yourself hours and hours of remedial work in the future. And, if the rules bounce of the brain (often happens in young children,) just teach the pattern and teach them phonetically and teach the rule in a year or two when the brain is able to accept rules.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Liz but I'm going to disagree with you. While i don't want to start an argument, sight words (strengthening ones memory) is a key building block as kids move to math and history. As our nephew continues to develop his love of learning, these beginning games will remind him that there is a base love for learning...and it is not just rules. Every child is different and Michelle and Eric know instinctively how to teach Alex.
And Chell, Lorelli is learning her times and division up to 12 and we use this game with the sidewalk panels on our daily walk. It is great fun, is working and we love it! Auntie Kim

ElizabethB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ElizabethB said...

BTW, you've got one smart boy there--he knows sight words are bad!

(Or, maybe Mary and David told him about some of my remedial students who guessed too much from too many sight words.)

Also, here is a fun phonics game you can play, it is one of David's favorites, and a much better way to learn the sight words--it teaches all the sounds you need phonetically: