Is the virtual classroom draining the excitement out of your instruction, especially with sight-words? Well, if teaching were a fall festival, this post would be the apple cider, cinnamon stick and all. Because you can’t have fall without apple cider! Today, I’m going to share 10 engaging sight-word activities to spice up your virtual classroom.
What you need are sight-word activities!
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, sight-words are the lowest level of learning: remember. Every child, if they have a caring and loving guide, can learn those sight-words. Our job is to find the tools kids need to be successful.
These sight-word activities are easy, quick, and fun. They can be used when you’re teaching live and can actually be adapted to other content areas.
Believe me when I say that you cannot be replaced with a link. Your students need instruction from YOU, not a website or an app. Some of us do have limited time available to teach, so we are needing to get creative with our methods. But PLEASE don’t try to replace yourself!
I assign a motion to every sight-word and practice it with a phrase. I described it in a previous post. One of my favorite sight-words to practice is “find.” My students say, “FIND your belly button. Find, find, find.” Each time they say “find” they stick their finger into their belly button. They giggle every time.
Brain research says keeping students engaged and using movement improves their learning. If you want to want to save yourself some time, you can grab a list of the motions I use for sight-words right HERE.
2. Show Me
This is a fantastic game from Dr. Jean, and I have been using it almost every day in my virtual classroom. You can either use whiteboards or a set of cards for each student. If you use cards, you can send them home ahead of time, or students can make their own.
If you’re using this game for sight-words, for example, each student could spread out 10 cards. You can say, “Find the word FIND. One, two, three, show me!” Then the students will hold up the word “find” in front of the camera. If you don’t use a set of cards, students can just write the word on the white board.
This is a quick way to assess student learning. Another benefit is that if a student doesn’t have the correct answer, they’ll see that their peers have the right answer and get instant feedback.
There are sight-word songs in the Sight-Word Engagement Guide (in THIS post I mentioned earlier). Those songs come from Dr. Jean, who is just a master of engagement. I’ve used them for kindergarten and now second grade. They don’t get old.
Even virtually, I can tell when students are participating, because if they’re singing their mouths are moving with the song. Sometimes we all turn our microphones on, and then I can hear the whole class. It sounds a little funny over microphone, but it works, and I know my students are learning.
Sometimes we’ll turn sight-word practice into a game with a race. I’ll put sight words on a PowerPoint presentation ahead of time. Some days we compete boys vs. girls. When it is the boys’ turn, I’ll start the slides with sight-words. As soon as I hear one of the boys say the word, I click on to the next word. We go all the way through that list, and then the girls take a turn. At the end, I try to decide who was fastest.
Sometimes we play kids vs. teacher. This gives them extra motivation to try to beat the teacher. Every now and then they ARE faster than me! It does take a little pretending for the teacher, and sometimes you do have to let the kids win. 🙂
Students can make their own board or you can send them home ahead of time. Use that week’s sight-words and let students mark their board as you call out words. You can also keep going until everyone has a bingo. To get a board, you can google “Bingo board with blank spaces.”
Students will love turning sight-words into a game. You can let the winners get a big cheer!
6. Silly Voices
Kids love being silly, and deep down, teachers like being silly sometimes too! For this activity, embrace your inner goofy self. This strategy lets students spell sight-words out loud in a silly voice. I have a silly voice choice board in the Sight-Word Engagement Guide to save you some time (HERE).
You can choose robot, baby, pirate voice, or so many others, and let the students spell out loud. Do it with them, and sometimes let students turn on their microphones so you can all do it together.
Sight-word practice could be boring, and this adds a layer of fun.
7. Musical Chairs
This idea came from Laura Buonadonna. Each student will need a whiteboard and marker or pencil and paper. While you play music, the students walk around their chair. (Hello, movement!) When you stop the music, they sit down quickly and, as fast as they can, write down the word you say.
Yes, it’s simple, but it makes routine sight-word practice much more fun. Even more important, if students are having fun, they’re engaged, so those sight-words are sticking in their brains!
8. Sports Spell
This comes from the Virtual Classroom Survival Guide (HERE). For example, for basketball, students would make the motion of dribbling a basketball as they say each letter in the sight-word. Then they get to (pretend) shoot a basket.
You can use it for any sport. For baseball, you stand in a batter’s stance and pretend to swing a bat for each letter as you spell the word. When students say the word at the end, they hit a home run.
Again, this sounds simple, right? But it helps keep sight-words from being dull. This particular activity is a FANTASTIC way to get boys engaged. Students can even suggest other sports they’d like to use.
Make flash cards for a skill, so for today, sight-words. Write “BOOM!” on several cards and mix them in with sight-word cards. You can use bright colors or glitter to make it more visually engaging. Use a document camera for Zoom or whatever method you’re using for your virtual instruction.
As you go through the cards, students say the sight-words as you come to them. When you show a “BOOM!” card, students jump out of their seats and shout, “Boom!”
You can also change the surprise word for the season. For Thanksgiving, you could use cards with a turkey, and students would call, “Gobble, gobble!”
10. Beat the Teacher
For this activity, you’ll need a game board where you can tally points for students and teacher. On your document camera, you’ll write out a sight-word nice and slow. If the students guess the word before you are finished writing it, they get a point. If you finish writing before they guess it, you get a point.
This is a fun way to get students really looking and thinking about the sight-words or another content area. If the students win, you can give them a silly prize like a joke or a standing ovation while you’re fake crying that the class beat you.
Go conquer those sight-word activities!
Hopefully these sight-word activities have given you at least one new idea you can start using in your classroom. Sight-words are so important for our students’ progression toward literacy. All students are capable of learning sight-words. Some will need more help, and tools, than others. But you can reach your students. I believe in you!
If you’re looking for a supportive community of fellow primary teachers who go whatever mile is necessary for their students, check out the Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group HERE. Have you visited the podcast? There will be a drawing for an Amazon gift card this month for podcast listeners. To listen to an episode (or a couple!) and find out how to enter, head over HERE.
Until next time, keep making a difference!