Anyway, as you will probably figure out over time as you read this blog, I have very strong opinions concerning education, particularly early childhood education. Using a whole word approach when teaching a child to read is something I think is very important. Not that phonics are unimportant, I just feel phonics are too heavily relied on as the method for teaching children to read. Phonics are a great tool for decoding new words, but that isn't how we read. We read by memorization. If we had to sound out every word, none of us would ever want to read because it would be a huge pain.
The biggest problem I've found with teaching sight words, is that most of us, parents, don't really know how best to do it, so we either use boring tools like flash cards or just rely on phonics, which seems to be more straight forward. So I thought I would share some techniques for teaching sight words to kids in ways that are fun and meaningful to them.
So for this first entry, I want to focus on my favorite method: Using children's books.
It's something so simple, but it just doesn't occur to most of us. I actually got this idea from my mother in law and had to, begrudgingly, admit that it was a really good one. (Don't you hate that!)
Basically, you look through you child's favorite books for simple words that are repeated. Then you choose one word to focus on with each reading. Begin by showing that word to your child and say it with them. Then point to the word every time it appears and allow your child to read it.
For example, in the book Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss, the word "go" is used a lot. So before beginning the book, I showed my daughter the word, and told her that "g" and "o" spells "go". Then I told her that I wanted her to help me read the word "go' whenever she sees it in the book. Every time I came to the word "go" I would cue her by pausing and pointing to the word, and she would say "go" - with great enthusiasm I might add. It is a lot of fun, and after one or two readings doing this, she pretty well knows the word.
You can do this with all sorts of books. It doesn't matter which ones, as long as you can pick out some highly repeated words. You can use words like "I" and "you," and other high frequency words if you want, but it's more fun if you choose more interesting words that fall at fun spots in a story. Also, learning one word per reading is best. Trying to teach too many words at once may lead to confusion. Once you've mastered certain words like, "go" and "dog" from Go, Dog, Go for example, you can ask your child to read both words to see how well they can differentiate between the two.
Here are a few books that I like to use for sight words:
- "Go" from Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss
- "Sam" and "ham" from Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
- "Tree" and Boom" from Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
- "Bear," "duck," "cat" or "hen" from the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik
- "Bear," "big" "one" and "day" from Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
- "Moo" from Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
- "See" and "me" from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
- "Go" and "dog" from Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman
Do you have any books to add to the list?
I want to hear what you think.