Sight word instruction is really important in early childhood. To be fluent readers, our students have to recognize sight words instantly. This requires memorizing them. One of my favorite ways to encourage new readers to practice sight words is to have them build the words in different ways.
8 Engaging Word Building Activities for Students to Practice Sight Words
It’s pretty easy to recognize that our students all learn in different ways. Some learn from music and videos while others learn from listening to read alouds. Over the years I’ve learned that many of my students learn best through hands on activities.
I have a sight word learning center in my classroom that is devoted to giving my students tons of opportunities to practice sight words in different ways. Sometimes they use my favorite sight word apps, other times they play hands on games.
One of my favorite ways to have my students practice sight words is by building them. I love that to build a sight word, they have to study the word. They have to identify all of the letters and put them in the correct order.
Although students can’t sound sight words out, identifying letters on their own often helps lead them to the familiar word. Did you know there is a difference between sight words and high frequency words?
I thought they were the same thing for the longest time. Learning the difference changed how I taught them. You can read more about that here!
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Start with Sight Word Flashcards
Before we can get started with these activities, you’ll need some sight word flashcards.
In case you’re thinking…
Ugh, one more thing! ?
I’ve got you covered. 😉
And…what if I told you I had sight word flashcards JUST for you?
Yep, I promise these flashcards will match your sight word list perfectly. 😲
No, I’m not a mind reader, but that would be interesting, now wouldn’t it?🤪
But, I do create amazing autofill activities that will instantly generate flashcards with your word list.👏🏻
Follow the directions on page one and print your flashcards on randomly shuffled colored paper and your flashcards will look just like mine! No fancy font downloads, no changing the size of the words…It’ll all be done for you…instantly!
Sight Word Practice Prep
Each of these sight word building activities I’m sharing today gives students the opportunity to practice sight words by creating. I love offering different materials, sensory options and experiences for my students.
I realized a long time ago that I could make my life a LOT easier by keeping my sight words in the center.
That is why I keep these materials organized in a sight word tub. When I am getting ready for my next week of centers, I simply open the tub and pull out the materials.
Add in the sight word flashcards I shared above and you’re ready to go!
I add a set of cards for each student into the tub so that they can work independently. Then, I add words to the rings as we learn them.
It’s probably the easiest prep I do!
Alright…are you ready to get to the building activities? Let’s go!
My Favorite Word Building Activities to Practice Sight Words
My students love to click, click, click the keys on a keyboard. ⌨️ Even when it isn’t plugged into anything! 😂
This activity is really as simple as giving students a keyboard! They use their ring of sight word flashcards and type the words out.
If you don’t have an actual keyboard to use, you can print a keyboard page (download it for free at the bottom of this post) and have students use it instead! They can place their sight word card in the empty space and type it below.
This activity is perfect for practicing sight words and computer skills. Students learn where the letter keys are located much quicker when they are using them over and over again.
Note: I got my old keyboards from my school district. I emailed tech support to ask if they had any lying around and they did! I have also seen them at thrift stores for around a dollar. 🙌🏼
In this activity, students use letter stamps and ink to build the sight words on their rings. It is good practice because they have to select each stamp from the set and stamp it in the correct order.
Stamping is great fine motor practice in addition to being great for practicing sight words. Pressing the stamp into the ink and then onto the page takes finger strength and precise motions.
If you want your students stamping on a specific page instead of scrap paper, you can download the sight word stamping page for free at the bottom of this post. 😁
This activity is a student favorite and for good reason! Every kid loves pushing these “bricks” together and pulling them apart!
Students build the words by finding the correct letters and snapping the building blocks together.
This is also excellent fine motor practice for little fingers!
You can use the “official” brand that starts with L and rhymes with “eggo” 😆…or you can use this “knock off” brand, which is what I do.
As far as getting letters on the blocks, you have two options:
- Use the letters stickers I created OR
- Write them on there yourself with a good ‘ole sharpie!
Seriously, they both work and they both result in students building sight words…YAY!
In this activity, students sort through magnets to find the correct letters for their sight words. They can use the flash card rings or these really fun sight word magnet mats.
The magnet mats are really fun to use because the students try to get them to stay up using the magnets. One magnet letter usually isn’t strong enough to hold the card up but as they add more letters, it stays.
I also just love that the letters match my magnets so perfectly.
Using play dough to create sight words is good practice for identifying the letters in the correct order as well as letter formation. I use these sight word play dough mats to help my students form the letters correctly.
FYI – We have a whole lesson at the beginning of the year where we “practice” making letters with play dough. We roll the dough into “snake” shapes and then bend those to create the letters. Then, my students become professional sight word letter makers and get to build words all year long. 😉
These sight word sensory bags are so easy to make and provide excellent practice for students.
All you need is a ziplock bag (I choose the freezer kind so they are extra strong), duct tape, gel (I get mine from the dollar store) and alphabet beads!
I put the gel and the alphabet beads into the ziplock bag. I get as much air out of it as I can, then I close the bag up tight. Finally, I tape it closed and then it’s ready to go!
Students build sight words by moving the letters in their bags around. They slide the beads toward each other to spell the words. This takes patience and perseverance. It is excellent practice!
Sensory experiences are such an important part of learning. I have a whole blog post coming with other sensory activities we do to practice sight words. Check back soon! ☺️
In this activity, students use beads, pipe cleaners and flashcards to create sight words.
I like to keep the beads in a pencil case or school box. The students keep the beads inside of that and sort them in there. That way, we don’t have to worry about beads all over the floor.
They find the letters they need for their words one at a time and thread them onto the pipe cleaner.
This is another activity that is excellent fine motor practice!
Mystery Sight Words
I saved one of our very FAVORITE activities for last. Mystery sight words is a super fun activity that can be done with flashcards, a white crayon and either makers or water colors.
Students choose words to write on their paper. They write one word in each box with a white crayon so it is invisible.
They reveal the words by coloring over them with a marker or painting over them with water colors. We do both many times throughout the year and they are equally fun. 🥳
Students trade with a partner to reveal the mystery sight words. I encourage them to try to figure out the sight word as they reveal it by paying attention to the letters as they appear.
Students can also reveal their own sight words. Both ways are a blast. Definitely get ready to hear “Oooh!” and “Wow!”
I have a sight sight word mystery page for you, too, just in case you want it!
Free Sight Word Building Pages
Did you want a copy of my sight word typing page, sight word stamping page, and/or sight word mystery page? You can download them below!Download the Sight Word Building Pages Now!
These teacher and student approved activities are the perfect way to mix it up when you practice sight words!
If you’re looking for other active ways to practice sight words in your classroom, check out these Sight Word Move & Master Fluency Tables!
Do you have any other ways you like to build sight words in your classroom? Let me know below!
Thank you x 100!! This is probably the best– most USEFUL thing I’ve found on the internet! We have a new reading curriculum and a new sight word list. I can get these cards into my kids hands faster than ever–you have saved me so much time!! I’ll say it again, THANK YOU!!!!
Julie, You made my day!! I’m so happy to provide you with something useful for your students. Thanks for all that you do for them!