The idea of becoming one of the first people to teach a student how to read I have to admit can be bit nerve wracking! But one thing I have learned while teaching is that you can’t let the students sense your fear; not that they would ridicule you (never that…) but that you can ignite a fear in trying something new amongst students!
So, with the task of teaching my kindergarten students the first 100 sight words (Fry’s Edition) I decided to make it a fun experience where my students feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when they have learned a new word! And what better way to commemorate accomplishment but then to display it for everyone to see. I present to you, Room 14’s Sight Word Tree!
We usually focus on 1-2 sight words a week. I introduce the students to the new sight word at the beginning of the week and put it on display for them on our sight word on the week board. I also accompany the word with a sentence that the students can easily connect to and inspire them to make their own sentences using the very sight word.
Throughout the week, we work on various games and activities to help reinforce the learning of the new sight words and their memory of said words.
Thursdays are the days we dedicate our whole reading period on the sight word. Students play games, write sentences, do puzzles etc surrounding on the sight words. At the end of the reading period, we make a new apple and write the sight word on it.
This is the fun part and where the sense of accomplishment is fostered! All week, I keep my eyes open for a student who has displayed initiative towards their learning, inquiring into reading and learning new words. The students are all aware that I am looking for that special students who will be given the very exciting task of placing the new sight word on the tree once we have successfully learned the word. The look on the students faces when they, or a fellow friend has won the special prize is really priceless. They are so incredibly proud of themselves and one another; they cannot help cheering. And you would think after a few weeks, this would die down. Let me tell you, it hasn’t. If you come around my room on a Thursday, you’ll hear a lot of screaming and me trying to calm down the lot!
The Sight Word Tree serves so many useful purposes in our classroom; the students look to the tree to help them write sentences, remember the phonetic sound of a letter, etc. The most interesting use they have come up with as of late-when coming across a ‘bigger’ word in a book they are reading, they try to locate if there is a ‘smaller word’ (think root word) in the ‘bigger word’. For example, this past week one of my students ran up to me to exclaim he found the word ‘The’ in ‘There’ and that it was easy for him to read this ‘big word’ because he recognized ‘The’.
I am so glad I decided to construct this sight word tree in my classroom! it has definitely taken the load of being the sole teacher of sight words and reading; in many ways this tree is my pseudo Teacher Assistant 😀
If you have any ideas you have incorporated in your classroom to support learning of sight words and reading, let us know in the comments below!