Tips for Teaching Sight Words Effectively in the Classroom
Here are some tips for teaching sight words effectively in the classroom, and for using Sing and Spell the Sight Words ! If you want to help your kids learn to read and write the sight words in a fun and easy way, this is the post for you! This is how I introduce and teach new sight words in my kindergarten classroom, and includes my very FAVORITE activities that I used every single year.
Pacing for Introducing New Words and Review
1. Introduce your first word (usually “the”) after about 3-4 weeks of school. (You may wish to introduce color words earlier.) Download my Pacing Guide here, towards the bottom of the page under “Program User Guides.”
2. Kindergartners can usually handle at LEAST two new songs per week. I was able to work my way up to four or five per week during the last trimester. First graders can do more. If they are getting it, you are doing it RIGHT.
3. Keep reviewing the previous songs as you go. Make a playlist of videos on HeidiSongs.tv, our internet video streaming platform, always putting your newest word first on the list. Then, sing the songs for the words you introduced previously. Making a playlist of the words you need to work on is the key to making sight word instruction efficient!
Tips for Using Sing and Spell
1. Always include motions of some kind. Having the children just sit and watch the videos is really the worst way to use our videos that I can think of. They NEED to get up and move in order to learn. As Howard Gardner says, “When the body moves, the brain remembers!” So be brave, buckaroo!
2. Important!!!!! During the intro and “outro” for each song, point to the letters and have kids spell the word aloud and say the word. It really helps solidify the learning. It also helps keep the kids CALM after each video!
3. ALWAYS show the word when singing the song. I always use our video streaming site, HeidiSongs.tv, but if you are using only the audio, make sure that you display the word somewhere. Before I had videos, I had sight words on a book ring in the order they would play. I held it in my hand while singing!
4. Have the children occasionally write the words while the songs play. This helps them connect the song to the written word. We used dry erase boards and markers. They loved it! I asked them to try to write the word as many times as they could before the song ended.
5. MODEL how to use the songs while writing. Once the children see you using the songs to help you write, they will likely start to do the same. See the section below for more tips on using the songs during shared writing.
6. Apply the skill. A skill is only partially learned until it is applied. And be sure to tell the kids WHAT THE SONGS ARE FOR! You might be surprised that they don’t realize they are spelling the word aloud while singing. 🤪
Using HeidiSongs during shared writing:
1. As you write, ask children for spellings and have them sing the songs to you as you write.
2. If there is no song, then have kids stretch out the word and sound it out together.
3. Reread as a group what you have written together. Discuss capitals, spaces, and periods.
Use Music as a Classroom Management Tool
1. Whenever your students are getting restless, stand them up and sing a song. Use it as an opportunity to review a sight word!
2. Sing a few songs in between centers when some kids are cleaning up and others are already finished.
3. Use the songs as a transitional tool. This keeps the review going continually without dedicating much extra time. One way to do this is to tell the children that they have “just one song” to finish cleaning up, etc. But make sure you follow through with some kind of reward or consequence, or it won’t help at all. “I like the way ___ is following directions” often works very well in early childhood classrooms. (But not always, LOL!)
What should we do with kids that are reluctant to participate?
Do everything you can to “nip it in the bud.”
1. Explain that we are learning through this activity. Refusing to sing and/or move is the same as refusing to do a worksheet. My students ALWAYS had to get up, at the minimum. Tell them that we are singing to learn, and they are not allowed to say no to learning.
2. Do what you can to motivate them. Settle on a reward or consequence and stick with it. Remember that your test scores will likely go up if you can get them all to get up and participate.
3. Get parents to help with “non-participants.” Explain that passive children learn more slowly. I explain to parents that learning through singing is the same as learning through a worksheet, except that it’s faster and usually more fun. Children cannot opt out of doing a worksheet, and they cannot opt out of learning through music, either.
4. Move “class leaders” that participate near the front, and reluctant children more to the back. Non-participation (and bad attitudes!) are contagious!
1. Choose one “Super Singer” who was a super singer/dancer that day and give him or her a sticker.
2. One teacher gave her “Heidi’s Super Star” a silly band to wear for the rest of the day (or until she sang again later,) and then collected it before the kids went home.
4. One teacher told me that she would choose a “best singer” of the day and let them push the “Easy Button” (from Staples) and everyone would say, “Way to go, Suzy!” etc. They could also ring a bell.
5. Do “Sight Word Solos” (or duets, etc.) if you are all waiting for something, such as someone to finish up in the restroom, etc. !
6. Mix favorite songs in with others that they need to work on. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!
Of course, the more activities you DO with the sight words and song, the better your outcomes are likely to be.
Here is a list of things that you can do just to help your kids practice the sight words even more.
Some are specific to using HeidiSongs, and some are more “generic” and could be used with any program.
1. Use the videos as a “listening/viewing center.” Log a child into your HeidiSongs.tv Video Streaming account on an iPad or Chromebook, and let them chose which videos to watch. Have them write the words or letters on a dry erase board as they go.
2. Play Sight Word Shuffle!
Here’s how to play: Choose a child to be “it.” Start a video. The child that is “it” has to identify the word whose song is playing, and then run to find it on the word wall before that song is over. If you like, then you can match girls against boys and see who finds it first, awarding points to the winning team.
3. Put on a Sing and Spell Show! Parents always love to see their children perform, and this is a pretty easy thing to do that doesn’t interrupt the curriculum at all! You can have the kids sing along with the audio by purchasing the songs on iTunes. (Search for artist Heidi Butkus).
And you can download my new Summer Sight Word Surprise right here on this blog post! We had a lot of fun painting it the day after Open House, which was Wednesday night of this week for me. Busy, busy, busy! (It’s a good thing I started this blog post EARLY!)
Use the Songs in Literacy Centers
1. I like to use the Sing and Spell File Folder Activities with Velcro from time to time as a center. With these “Velcro Books,” the kids read the words to the songs and put the letters back in to rebuild the songs.
2. This is a very similar activity to our Sing and Spell Cloze Activity Worksheets,which are sold as a download along with the Sing Along Song Books.
Sing and Spell Puzzles are fun! They can be used with or without folders and Velcro.
4. My kids love making little Sing Along Songbooks, too! They can take these home with them immediately, and they like that. These are a part of the Workbook, Mini Songbooks, and Flashcard Set. You can download some sample pages from this workbook on this blog post here.
5. Of course, there are the ever popular Hidden Sight Word Worksheets, too! Oh my goodness! I never would have guessed what a HIT these are! We now have them available for all six volumes of Sing and Spell the Sight Words, too, thanks to the tireless efforts of our HeidiSongs office staff. You’ll find some free samples to download here.
This is what the Hidden Sight Word Worksheets look like.
6. BUILD the words with different kinds of materials! This was a permanent weekly activity in my class during the last few years of my teaching career. Click here for more info! I prepped everything once and kept all of the supplies in a big tub. It was so easy because I never had to search for anything or prep anything new.
7. Do a Write the Room Sight Word Hunt!
I love to get kids up and moving, and this is a great way to do it. All you do is print out the cards, “hide” them around the room, and give kids a recording sheet. They wander around the room and search for all ten words and record them. It’s fun! My kids would CHEER when I told them we were going to do this! Our Write the Room sight word packets are always editable, so you can just insert the words your kids need to work on the most. We have these for CVC words, too- although these are not editable. And of course, we have COUNT the Room for math!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Do you have any suggestions to add to this post? You can message me on social media! (Links below!)
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