Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eager Learners? Offer Sight Words in an Age-Appropriate Fashion

Many children begin to show an interest in those "mysterious" things called words that they find in books or on labels in your classroom. When they do, you can help these eager learners to identify the basic sight words, the Dolch words, which are 220 of the most common words in the English language. All of our children should be familiar with their use in oral language and eventually be able to quickly identify them in text. While we don't necessarily advocate teaching these words in preschool, some teachers have asked for ideas on how to enrich their learning time for children who show an interest in learning these words. 

We tend to stay away from flashcards, but do encourage children to look at Dolch words and help them to move individual words into meaningful sentences. This age-appropriate technique helps children understand that words can be combined to say something meaningful.

You can use other age appropriate activities to satisfy a preschooler's thirst for knowledge. We like to integrate fine motor skills and give children slips of paper with Dolch words on them. They can link these papers into a sight word chain by gluing and holding the paper. This develops the all-important pincer grasp. Try this with letters of the alphabet, too! 

What child doesn't love bubble wrap? Use the kind often found in shipping boxes to write Dolch words on. Children can say the words and pop the bubbles. This is a favorite activity of ours for learning letters, too. 

Finally, head on over to your local library. Many still stock some of our favorite books for learning Dolch words in context. Former teacher, Margaret Hillert, wrote over 80 little books using Dolch words in thousands of ways. Read her books to children with great enthusiasm and expression. You'll be sure to have a class full of children who have at least heard the Dolch words used in speech. And that's important for all learners!

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.C.03, 2.E.04, 2.E.07, 2.E.09.
Head Start - I.D, VII.C, VII.D.

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