Teaching Sight Words in Vancouver, Richmond & Coquitlam

The last blog post on our website was on what sight words are, and how important they are. This naturally leads to the next question- how do we actually teach sight words?

Exercises We Use To Teach Sight Words

Sight words are almost always taught with the aid of a mnemonic. Mnemonics are a memory trick that you can use to help you remember something. Sight words are taught in red so that they stand out.

The sight word that will be discussed in this post is “ARE.” The mnemonic we use at Symbols to teach this word is “Acrobats Read Everywhere.” This phrase will be written on a flashcard, with the beginning letter of each word in red. On the card is a picture of an acrobat.

There is also a worksheet given to children, with the sight word, (in this case “ARE”,) written at the top in bubble letters. The student takes a red felt, and colors in the letters of the word. Beneath this is our mnemonic “Acrobats Read Everywhere,” with the first letter of each word being a bubble letter that the child fills in. Underneath this, there are three lines, and on each line a letter needs to be placed. For example, there will be a _ _, and the child must fill in the r and the e. Then there will be _ r _ , and the child must fill in the a and the e. Next there will be _ _ e, and the child must fill in the first two letters. There will be many combinations of these missing letters, and then at the bottom, there will be three blank lines where the child will try and write the whole word. At the top of this worksheet is a picture of an acrobat, to visually remind the child of the mnemonic. At the bottom of the page, there is a picture of a newspaper, which the child is encouraged to cut out. There is small cut in the paper near the picture of the acrobat, where the newspaper cutout can be placed so that it stands up. Using this 2D method is another technique to help the child see and remember the sight word.

There are also red letters that should be cut out individually, and placed in the correct order to spell out the word. Similar to the above method of filling in blank spots with the correct letters, the student may place certain letters, for example, the a and the r upright; and flip others over, (ie the e). The student then traces with their finger what letter should go there.

Another method used are tubs of sand. The sand is red, because as mentioned, we consistently use red to learn sight words. The number of tubs can be adjusted based on how many letters are in the sight word. The purpose of this exercise is tactile- the child traces an a, then an r, and then an e, into the tubs of sand. Being able to feel the sand’s texture on their finger helps with the tactile learning process. The tutor can shake the sand so that the letters disappear and get the child to trace the letters of the word in the sand multiple times.

Another thing that might be done is spelling out the letters in string, and taping them to a paper. Feeling the string form the word is again a tactile method, while forming the word in string is kinesthetic.

Finally, it is important that the child sees the sight word in a sentence. The sight word “ARE” will be on a flashcard, and the tutor will bring out some other words on flashcards that can be used to make a sentence. For example, the subject “they” can be placed in front of “are” and be followed by a word like “flying.” Since this is a full sentence, proper punctuation has to be used. A sheet will be brought out, and “They are flying!” can be written on it. Another sentence example that can be written down is “We are happy.”

There are many different methods that are used to teach a sight word. At Symbols, since we focus on visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile methods, all four of these methods are used when teaching a sight word. That way, no matter which style you’re child learns best, we’ve got you covered. 


Rob Wahl