What is a SIGHT WORD?
Sight words (or sometimes called high frequency, Word Wall words, or popcorn words) are frequently occurring words that are non-phonetic (hard to sound out) such as the, are, of, & love. Why are sight words (or high frequency words) so important when teaching the beginning reader? Because the first 100 alone make up about 50% of what we read!
What is a WORD WALL?
A Word Wall is a way to keep up with the sight words your child is learning. To make a Word Wall, you need somewhere to put each letter of the alphabet. Ours happens to be in our playroom and it takes up A LOT of room! (These letters were decorated by ALuv in Pre-K when he was 3yrs old.) I have also seen people make a Word Wall on a science board or with sticky notes on kitchen cabinets/blank wall.
How to Use Your Word Wall:
Word Walls are a great tool to help kids remember the words they have worked on with you. For example, when I ask ALuv to write about his favorite part of a field trip, he can go to the Word Wall and use it as a resource to help him spell words such as the or off.
We also play games with our Word Wall about 2-3 times a week. Here are two of his favorites: I turn off the lights and give him a flashlight. As I call out a word, he has to find it and shine his flashlight on it. He will also hand me the flashlight and call out a word for me to find. He LOVES playing with a yard stick, so sometimes I’ll give him a yard stick and have him point to words. I could go on and on with game ideas for days!
Different Words for Different Stages
A Word Wall will look different in each stage. For example, in the Stage 1: Let’s Learn the ABC’s, it may include environmental print, names of family members, pictures, or other favorite words. Children in this stage cannot remember very many sight words because they don’t have a firm grasp of letters or letter sounds, so it’s good to keep it simple.
As children begin to have more letter knowledge, they can remember more words. Instead of remembering look because it has two eyes in the middle (Stage 1), children who know their letters and sounds can now start to connect the actual sounds to the letters in the word. As far as how many words you introduce a week/month will depend on your child. ALuv is in the beginning of Stage 2, so we do about 1-2 new words a week and that seems like a good pace for him.
Once kids get into Stage 4 & 5 of word knowledge, most high frequency words should be automatic in reading and spelling. Suffixes, prefixes, Latin and Greek roots could be posted instead.
Words can also be taken off the Word Wall if the child is comfortable spelling the word without support. There’s no need to keep a word on the wall if she can spell it correctly without looking!
“Unconventional” Word Walls
You also don’t have to stick to the Dolch word list (or any other list for that matter). If your child is really into baby dolls and likes to write about them, she may need the word baby and doll on her word wall. Letting your child chose the words that go on the Word Wall is also another cool idea. She may read a book and find a word that she’d like to post up there.
Word Walls could be theme or content area based. For example, you may keep a separate mini Word Wall of math terms or words about winter.