Catching Kids Up on Sight Words at Home with Music
Does your child need to learn basic sight words the summer? You can easily teach your kids sight words at home with music, movement, videos, and fun activities in just 15-20 minutes per day. This post will tell you exactly what you need to do at home to teach kids to read using HeidiSongs videos! You can subscribe to watch these videos here, starting at just one dollar per month.
Active Participation is a MUST!
HeidiSongs videos work because they encourage children to get up, move, and sing along. This concept is the heart and soul of HeidiSongs! This is what I, (Heidi), have experienced during my 35 years of teaching: with young children, learning happens very slowly unless they are actively involved. Learning is not a spectator sport!
So, in order for children to learn sight words quickly in order “catch up,” they need to:
- See it! (Make sure their attention is focused on the screen!)
- Say it! (Say the word and its spelling aloud. This is easiest if you have them sing along!)
- Hear it! (Listen to the word being read and spelled aloud.)
- Do it! (Do the motions to the song.)
This is called Multi-Sensory Instruction, and the reason that it usually works is because nearly all of the senses are involved in the lesson. Based on my experiences, if you cannot get your child to do one of the above items, it is likely that learning will go more slowly. For example, children that would not do the motions or sing along were able to remember fewer sight words than those that did.
Short, Consistent Practice Sessions are Best
Plan on practicing for 15-20 minutes per day, five days per week. This is MUCH more effective than working one day for 75 – 100 minutes straight! Find a daily time that you can work on it consistently, and stick with it. For example, work on sight words every morning after breakfast, or each day after rest time, etc.
By the last trimester, most children in my kindergarten classes were able to learn four or five new words per week if I played those sight word songs twice per day at school each day, and had them use the words in lessons or activities. (We did not start off the school year at this pace, though!)
Start with Words that Look Very Different
It’s always easiest to start with words that really look quite different. For example, the words “go”, “see”, and “the” are easy to tell apart at a glance. Remind your child to look for the beginning sound and possibly the ending sound for clues. BUT… remember that sight words cannot generally be sounded out. Plan on working on no more than four or five words per week for kindergartners, especially at first! Start by making some flash cards on regular paper, or index cards.
Kids Must USE What They Are Learning to Make it Stick
When kids use what they have learned, they tend to remember it much better. So, after watching and participating with the songs, do something with them! It doesn’t have to take a long time. Below is a weekly suggested routine.
A Weekly Sight Word Learning Routine
Monday: Find the Words and Spell Them!
First, make flashcards for each word ahead of time, using all lowercase letters. Then, watch, sing, and move along to each sight word video twice through. Put the cards on the floor near the screen. Each time your child finishes a song, have him find that word among the cards and give it to you. Ask him to read the word to you, and then touch and say each letter. For extra fun when done, hide the word cards all around the house for your child to find!
Tuesday: Write the Words/Use Magnetic Letters
Watch, sing, and move along to each sight word video at least once. Then watch them again, but after finishing a song, have your child stop and write that word on a piece of paper or dry erase board, etc. Then have them read it to you and spell it aloud, touching each letter. Another option is to build it using magnetic letters! (You’ll need to find lowercase magnetic letters, since kids will see the words most often in lowercase.) You can find the pages shown below here.
Wednesday: Jump on It/Make Sentences with Cards
Start by asking your child to watch, move, and sing along to the sight word videos for the week twice through. Scatter the flash card words on the floor, and after your child has finished all of the word songs for the week, call out the words one at a time and have them jump on the word! My kids thought it was fun to jump up and down on the word while spelling it aloud! Then collect the words and see if your child can put them in order to make a sentence, and read it! How many sentences can you make?
Thursday: Play Dough Words
First, watch all of the sight word videos for the week. Then, get out the play dough, and show your child how to roll it into a snake. Then, have them take the snake and pinch off pieces to form the letters of the words. Each time a word is finished, ask them to read the word and touch it. Have them close their eyes and touch it, saying each letter aloud, and then the whole word. My rule was always, if they couldn’t remember the word, they had to squish up the play dough and build it again!
Friday: Write the Word in a Sentence
Once again, watch all of the sight word videos for the week. Next, think of some simple sentences using the words, and have your child write one or two and draw a picture. For example, they might write, “The cat is orange,” or “I see you.” I suggest that you put the words that your child has been learning on a wall or bulletin board so that your child can reference them if they can’t remember how to spell them.
Note: My little ones that struggled to learn would sing the sight word song, find the word on the wall, and then copy it. That was the only way some of my students could manage to complete a sentence writing assignment. The great majority of them (approximately 85%) just memorized the spelling from the song, and would instantly write the word from memory.
What About Worksheets?
I promise you that your child will learn best by doing the videos and playful activities above than by doing worksheets. However, many children actually do LIKE doing worksheets… and kids do benefit from doing some worksheet activities. I think that both parents and teachers like giving kids worksheets because it’s easy. The key is to not ask them to do them for longer than they are able to sit and pay attention. But worksheets should never be a substitute for interacting with children and doing activities like the ones above.
That being said, here are some of my favorite sight word worksheets:
Sight Word Worksheets, Vol. One (There are six volumes, with lots of different types.)
Hidden Sight Words Worksheets Vol. One (There are six volumes.)
Easy Readers (Printable) (Kids read VERY simple books, and find/color the words indicated. I have found this to be extremely effective!)
For more practice, have kids build each word using different items you have on hand. We did this WEEKLY in my class, and I think it really helps! Check this link for ideas.
Don’t Forget to Review, and READ!!!
As time goes by, your child should be learning about four or five words per week. But in order to remember them later, you’ll need to review occasionally and keep using the words that they have learned. So start up those HeidiSongs videos for words they’ve already learned, and then make sure that you READ with your children! When you see a word your child knows in a picture book or a sign, ask them to tell you what it is. There is often a lot of wasted time at stoplights, etc. Use it!