Tips for Teaching Kindergarten Sight Words

The Question:
This year I am really struggling trying to teach my students sight words. They are not retaining it at all! Any tried and true ideas you can share with me?

The Answers:

Bethany Charlebois Arsenault 

I took the “Dolch Words” and divided them up into small levels. I call them popcorn words and put them in small popcorn containers. The kids are so competitive to pass the next level! They practice at home and at school. I also match up the levels with books that feature those words in them. Best of luck!

Andrea Kay Thurston Mattson 

Have the children write the words in shaving creme on their desks…or sidewalk chalk outside….anything to peak their excitement!

Arthi Nowak

We use the picture word inductive model in our district. It is a very well researched model and considered best practice. Children learn to read and write outstandingly well!!

Sandi Sanford 

Put motions to the words! It really worked for my kiddos 🙂

Amy Langford 

I use games that are lots of fun like “oh no!” easy to make and my kids love it. I also just made some board games with sight words that the kids are really excited to start playing.

Erica Egnatuk 

Heidi Songs!!!

Rebecca Bressler 

We play 4 corners with them! I laminated 4 pieces of chart paper and taped them to each of the 4 corners in the classroom. I then write with expo marker a different word for each corner. The child calls out the sight word instead of the number to indicate the corner chosen. It is a great way to get my class moving plus those who are out are looking at the corners to see who is going to get out next.

Cindy Tuisku 

I agree with Erica, Heidi Songs are the best!

Amanda Weaver

My kids LOVE Around the World. It makes them want to learn to beat the other person. Oh, No is fun. So is SPARKLE.

Sharae Pierret 

I am student teaching and I have found that the students love learning through music and movement-whatever makes it FUN!

Bethany Charlebois Arsenault 

Try using

Brandi Goulding

We have sight word baseball games amongst our Kindergarten classes, and even just among the kids in my own class… they don’t hit a ball, but instead the pitcher, ‘pitches” them a sight word, if they get it they move to first base etc… they LOVE it!  Also, we use Move to the word in my class… I have a big bucket full of choices.. and I let a student pick one out.. for example if the card that they pull out says “whisper”… then we have to whisper spell the word and whisper say it! If the card reads chicken dance, we have to chicken dance while spelling and saying the word.. sooo much fun!

Susan Hartwig Wood 

Biffytoons assign a movement to the sight words and it’s been great for my struggling readers. They know their sight words instantly because they do the movement and then the word comes to mind. I think the website has about 50 words with assigned movements and then I made about 15 more that went with the words our reading program uses. It’s whole brain teaching.

Erin Quinlan Carter 

I use the sight words as “passwords.” as the students enter the room throughout the day, I stand at the door, holding a stack of sight words, asking the students for the password before they enter. It’s been a VERY successful activity this year.

Celina Norris Davis 

For this time of year, I am doing “winter”. We have a “snowball fight”. I wrote the words on white pieces of paper and wad them up. We divide up into teams while in small group (3 against 3). They throw the “snowballs at opposing team (we usually hide behind chairs) if the snowball makes it into the opposing team’s territory, it was considered “a hit”, but the throwing team has to read it before they get a point. the team with the most points get a reward for being the Sight Word Snowball Champs!

Denise Baker Dillman 

Two letter words are ‘Oreo Cookie words”. We break an Oreo apart, and they lick each side as they spell the 2-letter word, then put the cookie back together as they say the word. We have a little book that looks like an Oreo, with a page for each Oreo Cookie Word. Each page has 2 circles at the top and one at the bottom. We write each letter of the word in the 2 circles at the top and the word in the circle at the bottom. We also have a Spelling Bee (like the big kids) in April with the sight words.

Holly Bertram 

Heidi Songs!

Cynthia Velis

Boys against girls. Who can read them faster. Use tallies, then compare the tallies. How many more do the boys have than the girls. Math and reading 🙂

Jill Brown

We use “My short books.” They are books that come in sets of 24 books. They build on each word. They are even levelized going from Aa to level D. They are expensive, but each child gets to take them home to start their own library. We even have a parent activity to teach the parents how to work with their student. They have made a big difference.

Karen Kerns 

Almost all of my kids know all their color words, thanks to Heidi Songs. I’m going to get the DVD with the number words next because a number of my kids still don’t know all of them. She also has an awesome blog with tons of ideas. My kids love “sight word surprise”, which is basically a word (or words) written with a white crayon on the paper. The kids paint the page with watercolors to discover their word. We also make words with magnets, stamps, magna doodles, play dough, string letter beads on pipe cleaners, etc.

Janel Amos Kincheloe 

Make an action or movement for every word and mke it fun. My kids love it and know all their sight words, even my low kids!

Colleen Henry Krokaugger 

After hearing about Heidi songs on here last Spring, I bought the set. My Kids LOVE them! It has really helped them learn the words. Now, i am thinking about purchasing her set on the letter/sounds. Has anyone tried those?

Susan Mentze 

Heidi songs are great! I also wore the word of the week in a plastic name tag necklace (like you get at conferences) and kids had to read it as they went to join the line. (I’m retired now, but this sure worked!)

Elizabeth Danyew

We do a word hunt for sight words all around the room, in books, on posters (I hide some so they can find them) big fun! very exciting.

Stephanie Lee Jaros 

I have my sight words on popcorn cut-outs. When we have a few spare minutes here and there throughout the day, I turn out the lights and get out a flashlight. I call it the “flashlight game,” and I’ll shine it on a sight word. They love to play, and it has really helped them remember the words!

Lora Pruden

We play a game where the students have to read my mind. I say, “I am thinking of a word. It is on the word window(or wall).” Then I give clues – like: It has 3 letters, two of the letter are tall, etc. They have to find the word and then write it down. Next, I write it down on chart paper. If they write it down before I do, they do a silent cheer. They beat the teacher! I have kids help each other as needed. Sometimes we draw illustrations to go with the words and use crayons to retrace the words or circle our favorites. I also tell them what sound or letter it starts with.

Gina Morris Annis 

For Kindergarten – One thing I do that has helped my class to really practice: I gave every student a baggie. I went around the room holding up one sight word at a time, having a student read it. If they got it correct, they earned a pom pom. I purchased poms of all sizes at Walmart. I told them the little ones are babies, which made them love to get those too. I just reach in the bag and they get whichever one I grab. I only get to do this once a week, but they are really practicing their words to earn their poms. We have a lot of words to learn in K, and nearly all of my students know them now. I worried that the boys wouldn’t care for the poms, but they love them too! I also worried that the poms would be too expensive, but when you add the tiny ones, they last forever.

Diane Henderson

I made up CVC and Dolch Bingo and dice games + cut and glue matching skill sheets that they enjoy. They are free and under reading on my site.

Kristen Scott 

I make die cut puzzle pieces that the children can put the words together and take apart to practice. I write the word on a baggie and have them take them home for the week to work with their parents.


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