Sight Words - Why Didn't They Just Use Their Sounds?

Where in the world does the time go? It's already Sunday night?!

My washer and dryer are still running . . . so the weekend must not be over yet. =)  {And it isn't exactly Sunday night anymore - but the wee hours of Monday morning.}

Recently, my kiddos were talking about the "people who invented English" and how they didn't understand the rules. CRACKED ME UP just listening to them! I love how sight words become completely unacceptable to the kiddos once they start applying rules to so much of what they learn. "Why didn't they just use their sounds?"

Yeah, why didn't they? It sure would have made our jobs as primary teachers a lot easier!

I teach my kids "They didn't go to school. They didn't learn the rules." when we talk about words that do not follow phonic rules. I also like the idea of calling them "outlaw words" - but it never really stuck with me.

We expect our first graders to master a minimum of 275 words before the school year ends. That takes a lot of practice in order to ensure they can read those words immediately... on sight! They learn 9 new words a week. They practice them every single day during homework, morning work, literacy practice, word work activities and our morning routine.

Here's how we practice them each morning during our morning routine.

We have a long pointer that I made out of an old fishing pole, a shorter hand on a stick pointer and some ribbon. (I highly recommend the fishing pole - its VERY light, yet long so it's easy for the kiddos to maneuver.) Each day a student is in charge of using the pointer to point to each word while the rest of the kids read them.

9 new words are added to the board each week. The board is constantly evolving. I take down words once the majority of the kids have mastered reading and spelling them. Even though the primary objective is that they can read them, the word wall is also their dictionary, so I leave them until they can spell them without looking.

After the whole class has read the words, the "pointer" picks a person to read the words on their own. I have popsicle sticks with their names written on them in a cup in the cupboard beside the words. If the student can read the words with no more than 2 mistakes (the other kiddos help if they struggle) then their stick gets moved to the "passed" cup. If they are still struggling with the words, the stick just goes back into the original cup.

The cups really come in handy. When it comes time to assess the kiddos on their sight & high-frequency word recognition I just have to check the ones who haven't had their stick moved to "passed" yet. Awesome time saver. Since we do this every single day - the majority of the kids can rattle those words off with ease.

So on to another week of plans.

We are having a Read-A-Thon this week. Thursday will be a "READ MY SHIRT" day. Kindergarten celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday all week. 

This is what we'll be doing on Friday this week.

I love using this to celebrate Dr. Seuss, reading and introduce the pond habitat science standards we'll be working on in March.

The Leap into a Good Book activity and the 
Feelin' Lucky St. Patrick's Day activity are available separately and grouped into a March Holiday Pack, too.


I'm looking forward to doing this with the kiddos in March. It's such a fun writing activity.

Well after 2 short weeks in a row, this week just may feel extra long. 

Have a great one, peeps!


  1. This is my first year using a word wall and I have not been as interactive with it as I would like:( I love all of your space for it. All your activities look like a lot of fun. I feel like such a slacker! Mahalo for the inspiration:)


  2. I LOVE your word wall. I am going to start using the idea of "They didn't go to school, they didn't learn the rules." My kids always find those exceptions to the rules and then they don't understand why they don't follow the rules. These poor kids, our language is so hard to understand!

    The Eager Teacher
    The Eager Weekend

  3. I like how you read the wall every day! For the kids reading by themselves, how do you handle the ones who can read very few words?
    Thanks, Traci:)

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. That's a really great question. Each year I have one or two that are on a modified list. There is no way they can master all of those words. To keep them from going through the embarrassment of not knowing the MAJORITY of the words on the board, I just remove their sticks from the cups - so they'll never be called on. No one knows about their stick removal but me. :D

  4. Hi Traci
    I love your word wall and the process you use to make it 'evolve'..great idea! Also I fell in love with your jack and the beanstock pant activity last year. Super cute my friend.
    PS I just posted about sight words too - must be in the air! LOL

  5. That cupboard Word Wall is genius and your daily procedure is too! Such a great idea. We too have kiddos who just cannot accept English...It's so hard!! Some have literally cried, "Why doesn't it just make the sound you taught meeeee...." It is rough being a beginning reader, but so glad they're all the same. :)

    Christy & Tammy


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