Sight Words, Sight Words, Sight Words

Parents ask me all the time, “What can I do to help my students?” My answer is always the same: sight words. Sight words are a tricky business. We tell students that they simply do not follow the rules, until we find a few that do, which gets CONFUSING.

My advice is to keep switching it up. I made the mistake my first year of using the same routine for sight words the entire year. I thought my students had truly mastered the words, but in reality they had just memorized the order. They were reciting them, rather than reading them. I use a combination of PowerPoint slideshows, word walls, flashcards, word reading strips, word reading pages and literacy stations. Whatever you choose to do, keep it consistent!!


Get these flashcard labels FREE {here}.

Flashcards are something that I should have started sooner. They are the perfect time filler for when you have two minutes waiting on the PE coach to arrive. There are SO many different games you can play with them!

If your school has adopted a reading series, then you know that they assign different words to different weeks in the school year. To keep mine organized, I labeled the back of each card with the corresponding week number.

And of course I couldn’t stop there. I color-coded them by week also. (Hello, OCD). Another really great thing about sorting your flashcards by week is that it helps you differentiate your small group instruction. I try to start each guided reading small group with a VERY quick sight word review. For my more advance kids, we cycle through as many cards as we can in one minute. For my kids who haven’t quite mastered the words, we focus on JUST the words for that week, until they are ready to move on.

Okay, this was just too cute not to share. I used clipart from Ashley Hughes to make these envelopes to store my flashcards and word wall cards in for each six week. I think I’m in love.

Word Reading Strips

Word reading strips are something that I created for my class last year. I was struggling to find time to give my kids the individual attention they need when it came to sight words. I didn’t want to keep drilling my entire class with sight words when some of them had already mastered the words and were getting B-O-R-E-D. Ugh, no teacher wants that.

So, one sight word “strip” gets stapled/taped on each students weekly work folder (we call them tub folders). Any time, and I seriously mean ANY TIME during the day when I have an extra thirty seconds, I tell a certain student to bring me their work folder. I have them stand next to me and read off the words. If they get a word right, I highlight it. If the do not get a word right, we leave it blank. This give me AND the student an idea of what words they still need to practice.

I often tell my students that if they are in the middle of their independent work and need a quick break, they can look on the front of their folder and practice their sight words.

THE BEST PART: I could not have predicted this, but I am so glad it happened. I saw my students come alive with this method. They were comparing their word lists with other students, and OF COURSE they just wanted to beat each other. Kids were mastering sight words left and right. On a whim, I decided that they needed an extra reward for their hard work. So, when a student got EVERY word on their list, then they got to go to my treasure chest. Talk about lighting another fire. I could not have been happier with this method and I will definitely be using it again this year.

If you would like the template I used for the strips, please leave your email in the comments below and I would be happy to e-mail it to you!

Formal Assessment

As you can see in the picture above. I use the same “strips” for their weekly work folders as I do for assessment. Only this time, I give students the half sheets of paper that only have five to six words to read from. Some of my students really need to be able to focus on a few words rather than the overwhelming list of 30+. If we are only on week 2, I only MAKE students read the words from week 1 and 2. BUT, if they make a 100 on week 1 & 2, I go ahead and keep testing them to let parents know which words they need to work on next.

Word Reading Pages

 This is just another form of practice that we do during our morning routine. Sometimes we read the list together. Sometimes I give them 15 seconds to read as many as they can. Sometimes I tell them to read as many as they can in one breath. Sometimes they read with a partner. And their favorite is when we read the words in silly voices (like a lion, rock star, etc.). The folder that you see is their “Jungle Book”. It holds our daily calendar and math practice pages. It also holds sight word poetry in the back. It just seemed fitting that another sight word opportunity could be put in the front. Each six weeks, we slide a new sheet in front.

Literacy Stations & Word Walls

The station that is pictured is one that I made to go along with our reading series. If you are looking for something more generic that can be used with any set of words, check out Raegan Tunstall’s Word Wall Centers {here}.

I like to introduce 5-6 words per week depending on our reading series. I introduce those words with the PowerPoint mentioned above. Then, I put them in a literacy center. I try to use the same kind of center for at least three weeks so that it is simple and the kids don’t need too much instruction for it. My main goal for sight words is repetition, so I try to make sure the kids are writing the words at least three times each.

When the week is over, the sight word cards get moved up to our word wall.

 You can find our set of my word wall cards {here}.

What great tips do you have for teaching sight words?


  1. Okay, so this is my second time trying to write a comment on here, because I am so excited! I have been searching for weeks to find some information on tackling sight words with first grade Reading Street. I feel like I finally know the direction I should take. I would absolutely love it if you would send me the word strips like you mentioned in your post. I am so excited to get started now! Thank you!

  2. Ummm can you organize all my sight words for me and ship them for to my school?? Thanks ;)

  3. Oh my goodness, you have so many wonderful ideas! I love your OCD by the way-hehe. I love the idea of stapling individual lists to the folders and using those small snippets of time to quickly check in on their progress. Genius! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    Primarily Speaking

    1. Thank you so much Aimee! I am so glad you enjoyed my post (and appreciate my OCD, lol)!

    2. Kristen, I stumbled across your blog from a Pinterest search & I L.O.V.E. It! I would love to get your sight word template. I think your idea it spot on & would love to incorporate it in my class this next year. I love how your kids made it into a fun competition. Could you send me your template? I'd appreciate it.

      Also, I'd love to get your flashcard storage labels that you placed on your storage folders.

      My e-mail address is

      Thank you so much!!!

    3. Hi Shannon!!

      I tried to send you an e-mail but it was returned. Is this your correct e-mail address:



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