Sunday, July 29, 2012

Teaching Sight Words to Young Children - Part 1

Before any of you think, who is this lady, and is she just talking out of her butt? I will let you know that I do have a Masters in Education, and spent a number of years teaching children of various age levels so... I am only moderately talking out of my butt.

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
Have any of you ever used this method to teach you children or students to read?

Do you have any books to add to the list?

I want to hear what you  think.
 









17 comments:

  1. My baby is still in my belly, but I love stock piling helpful tidbits on early childhood education. My mother-in-law is all about phonics and I hear about it frequently (she's a day care provider). So this article is nice, new and refreshing! I love hearing different teaching methods. I look forward to reading more!

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  2. TIL: "Go, Dog. Go!" was not written by Dr. Suess. Go figure.

    "Do you like my hat?"

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  3. New follower from the blog hop
    misty @ monkeyandtutus.blogspot.com

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  4. Great list of resources and ideas. Thanks! Jodi @ www.meaningfulmama.com

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  5. Hello.. I do agree with you with teaching our kids to read through sight reading.. or sometimes we can do both ways. (sight reading and phonics) phonics might be good to help improve spelling.. sight words is best for decoding. cheers!

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    1. I agree that both ways is best. I just think a lot of use find it easier to teach phonics, so I thought I would put forward a way to teach sight words. Every child learns differently, so we need to use many approaches if we want to reach all of them.

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  6. That is so funny, I used to help my younger cousin read and I used this method, but I didn't really realize what I was doing. I like to use a combination of phonics and sight words. I like the book called "UP" to teach the U and P sound. Flash cards can be boring, but if you make a fun game out of them they are not so bad. Can't wait to read more tips on teaching sight words! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

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    1. Thanks so much! It's great having an education site like yours to link up to. :)

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  7. Boy... sounds like how I learned how to read. (With, for example, "See Spot Run")
    It's great you're providing this information to so many others!

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  8. This looks like a great way to make reading fun and real, and it's great togetherness time. I really like starting out with basic phonics too and then once they get it they just go!

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    1. It's definitely best to use both approaches together.

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  9. I have used this method with my son starting last month, he is 4.5 years old BTW. He learned his letters and all of their sounds when he was 2 (thanks to phonics dvds), however we were not making any progress after that since he was not willing to sound out words on his own. Ever since trying this method he has already memorized around 30 words. We read a lot of Dr. Seuss books like The cat in the hat comes back.

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    1. That's awesome! Every child learns differently. What's important is that we recognize those differences and adjust our teaching style because it is much easier than adjusting their learning style. I hope it continues to work for you. :)

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  10. thanks for sharing.

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