Memorizing sight words and high frequency words is such an important part of learning to read. These sight word activities will keep your students actively engaged while getting tons of practice with the words YOU choose.
As teachers, we know students are more likely to learn something if they connect with and enjoy it. I find that many of my students learn through touch and movement. Because of this, I love using activities that allow them to be active, to touch, to move, and to have fun!
The best part about these sight word activities is that students love them.
I use many of them during guided reading and literacy centers so engagement is essential. When my kids think they’re playing instead of learning, we are all having a better time.
Sight Words and High frequency Words
Sight words and high frequency words aren’t just read and memorized on the spot. (Wouldn’t that be amazing 🤪)
There are well over a hundred that are so common they show up in the text we read all the time. They appear even more often in new reader’s text. These words are super important but they are also super tricky for some of our new readers.
Note: 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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Hands-On Sight Word Activities
These sight word activities are hands-on, simple, fun and require very little preparation on the teacher’s part. 🙌
Each one can be done with a set of sight word flashcards and not a single one needs a worksheet to be copied. 👏 👏 👏
(If you don’t have any flashcards with your sight words, you can use my free Editable Sight Word Flashcards.)
Setting Up the Sight Word Flashcard Activities
I keep the activities in a container like a box or basket. Students are shown how to get the materials out, set them up, use them and clean them up.
Giving my student’s these responsibilities teaches them to be independent and saves me time setting up, giving directions multiple times and cleaning up. 🥳
In my classroom, students are grouped into pairs for literacy centers. These activities can easily be scaled up for more or down for one. I just find partners work best for me. I will refer to my partners as P1 – Partner 1 and P2 – Partner 2.
The way your students use these materials and do these activities is totally up to you. I’m sharing how I have done them in my own classroom but that is definitely not the only way!
Have fun with them. I can assure you that your students will!
Sight Word Fly Swat
Materials: Two sets of sight words cards and a fly swatter.
Set Up: Lay one set of cards out in a grid, face up. Put the second set of cards face down in a stack as a draw pile.
Activity: P1 pics up a card from the draw pile and reads the card. P2 finds the word and swats it with the fly swatter.
Partners can switch back and forth or each go through the whole stack. A variation is having P1 read the letters in the word for P2 to find.
Sight Word Fishing
Materials: Sight word cards with a paper clip attached and fishing poles with magnets.
Set Up: Lay cards out or keep them in a tub (or a pool if you’re feeling fancy!).
Activity: P1 and P2 go fishing for sight words. They can either take turns or go at the same time. Each time they “catch” one, they show it to their partner and read it aloud. ?
Later on in the year I have my students come up with a sentence for the word they “caught” to extend the activity. ?
Note: you can make your own fishing poles with a dowel rod, string and a magnet. Simply tape or glue the string to the end of the rod and hot glue a magnet to the end of the string. This works like a charm if you don’t have fishing poles and can’t purchase them.
Sight Word Go Fish
Materials: Two sets of sight word cards. I recommend using about 20 words for this game.
Set Up: Shuffle or mix up the cards and put them in one stack as a draw pile. Each partner gets 5 cards.
Activity: Play “Go Fish” with cards. P1 looks at their cards and chooses one. P1 asks P2 if they have the match to that card. If P2 has it, they pass it over. If they do not, P1 gets to draw a card from the draw pile.
When a player has a match, they say what it is and lay it down. When all the matches have been found, they count how many they got and play again.
Sight Word Memory
Materials: Two sets of Sight word cards. I usually use 15-20 words we have been practicing.
Set Up: Mix up all of the cards and lay them face down in a grid.
Activity: P1 and P2 take turns looking for matches. On their turn, they flip over two cards and read them. If they are a match, they keep them. If they are not a match they turn them back over. When all the matches have been found, mix them up and play again.
Sight Word Bean Bag Toss
Materials: Sight word cards and bean bags.
Set Up: Lay the cards face up in a grid.
Activity: Partners take turns tossing bean bags onto cards. We do this in a couple of ways depending on the time of year.
At the beginning, we toss the bag, spell the word and say it.
Later in the year, P1 tells P2 what word to toss it on too. P2 tries to land their beanbag on the correct word.
Finally we play this game by giving directions. P1 might say “Toss the bag onto a word with 4 letters.” Then P2 tosses the beanbag onto a 4 letter word and reads it.
Sight Word Parking Lot
Materials: Sight word cards and cars.
Set Up: Create a parking lot with the sight word flash cards.
Activity: Each partners drives a car up to a flashcard. They read the flashcard as they drive up and park their car. They say “I parked my *description, like red* car on the word ______.” Then they get another car to park.
When all the cars have been parked, partners work together to “clear the parking lot.” They read the words as they drive their cars out of the parking lot.
Sight Word Pathways
Materials: Sight word cards.
Set Up: Partners work together to create a path (in a designated area) with sight word cards.
Activity: Partners take turns walking along the path they created. Each time they step on (or next to) a word, they read it aloud. After they finish going through their path, they can do it again or create a new one!
Note: I tell me students to step on either side of the word card so they can read it. That way they don’t slip on the laminated card and it lasts much longer.
Sight Word Sort
Set Up: None
Activity: Partners decide how they will sort the cards. (The first idea I give is to sort by number of letters.) They sort the cards by the rule they determined. Then they point to the words with the pointers and read them.
I let my students use a pocket chart for this activity. I also let them use scrap paper to make “headers” for the top of their sorts. They love playing teacher so this activity is a favorite for them.
If they finish making and reading their sort, they can choose another way to sort and do it all again.
Note: I give them some options at the beginning of the year but they often come up with their own as the year goes on!
Sight Word Cups
Set Up: Set out cups so you can see all of the sight words and put the sight word cards in a stack as a draw pile.
Activity: Partners take turns drawing sight word cards from the draw pile. P1 draws a word and reads it. Then P1 looks for the cup with that word and uses it to start a tower. P2 draws a card and does the same thing.
They go back and forth, finding cups and using them to build epic cup towers. I guarantee your students will think you are the COOLEST teacher ever when you show them this game. ?
I Spy a Sight Word
Materials: Sight word cards or a word wall
Set Up: Lay the cards out in a grid
Activity: Partners challenge each other by picking secret sight words for the other partner to guess. P1 chooses a word from the word wall and says “I spy, with my little eye, a word that _____.” P2 guesses a word. P1 either says “You got it!” or “That’s not my word.”
This game needs some scaffolding. We play it whole group and in guided reading for a few weeks before I move it to a center. I give all sorts of clues so they can have lots of examples like: number of letters, ending sound, number of syllables, etc.
I also make sure to tell them that they should only say what the first letter or sound is when they are ready for the other person to get it! That is usually a giveaway!
Don’t those all sound like so much fun? I seriously feel like a rockstar teacher when I see my kids laughing, collaborating and having fun while practicing sight words and high frequency words.
If you’re looking for more ways to practice sight words, check out this post with all of my favorite online games to practice sight words!
Do you have any favorite sight word activities I should try in my classroom? Let me know below! 👇