Is preschool too early to teach sight words? Should we even be teaching sight words to preschoolers?
These are good and important questions that I can help answer for you! The short of it is yes!
Sight words are important for children to learn, and if your preschool is in a place to learn these words that’s amazing. Learning sight words early tremendously helps reading as children get older.
Should We Teach Sight Words for Pre – K?
Sight words are great for children to learn that are ready for them. Learning sight words helps to build confidence and encourage little readers.
Sight words can help children and learning sight words should be a fun and light-hearted activity.
Related Post: Free Printable Sight Word Flashcards
What are essential pre-reading skills for preschoolers?
There are a couple of pre-requisite skills that children need to have before learning sight words. These are things that your child needs to have a good grasp on before attempting to learn sight words.
- They demonstrate proper book-handling skills, holding books correctly and turning pages in the appropriate direction.
- They grasp the concept that each written word corresponds to a spoken word.
- They comprehend the left-to-right directionality of reading text.
Language Comprehension and Listening Skills
- They proficiently retell familiar stories in their own words.
- They actively engage with stories while being read to, asking thought-provoking questions (“What was the reason behind his statement?”) and establishing personal connections (“I wish I could indulge in that much ice cream!”).
- They can effectively respond to simple inquiries about a story.
- They readily recognize individual letters of the alphabet.
- They can accurately identify the sounds associated with each letter, or a substantial number of them.
Phonological and Phonemic Awareness
- They demonstrate the ability to count words.
- They display proficiency in counting syllables within words.
- They exhibit the skill to identify and generate rhyming words.
- They can blend individual sounds to form complete words. For instance, if presented with the sounds /f/ and /ish/, they can combine them to create the word “fish.”
- They can identify the initial and final sounds in words, separate from knowing the specific letters. For example, if asked about the first sound in the word “phone,” they should be capable of responding with /f/.
- They exhibit a genuine enthusiasm for learning to read.
- They derive pleasure from being read to.
- They frequently express the desire for read-aloud sessions.
- They engage in imaginative play where they imitate reading.
What are the next steps?
There is some debate on what the next steps should be, but once pre-reading skills are grasped, we should teach preschoolers how to sound out words.
Some teachers teach sight words first because they are easy to memorize, however, this isn’t always the best first step.
Memorizing words doesn’t help children understand how to sound them out. It also doesn’t help preschoolers learn about words themselves, only how to memorize them.
Sight Words for Preschool
After preschoolers understand how to sound out words, you will need to teach sight words to preschoolers that they can find in books. These words should be words that they cannot sound out.
What Sight Words Should We Teach for Preschool?
Although I don’t recommend only teaching preschoolers to memorize words, there are some that are helpful to know so that little readers can decode bigger words.
This list will help little readers when reading small books.
Suggested Learning Order
How Should You Introduce Sight Words for Pre-K?
So you may think that introducing sight words by way of flashcards is the only way but there are also a ton of fun activities you can try!
Activities are helpful for a few different reasons:
Makes Learning Fun
Children, especially preschoolers learn best when they are having fun. Prioritizing activities can foster a fun learning environment for littles to flourish.
Benefits Hands-On Learners
I am finding that many kids are hands-on learners, especially at a young age. Hands-on learners want to do, investigate, dig in, and see.
Allows For Less Stress
I remember learning sight words with flash cards and being so stressed and overwhelmed. I am not going to tell you that flashcards are bad because I think they can be beneficial.
However, when first learning sight words, activities will meet your children where they are and encourage a light-hearted learning environment.
How Many Sight Words Should a Preschooler Learn?
Most preschoolers should learn about 20 sight words by the end of the year. 20 sight words is a good amount to build from the next year.
I think that 20 sight words are attainable for most, however, you may have some that learn more than 20 and some that will learn less than.
The goal is to get preschoolers a good foundation to build from.
Ways to Teach Sight Words for Preschool
All children learn differently, so it is important to have different ways to teach them. These are some of my tried and true ways to teach sight words to preschoolers.
Choose Sight Words in Your Child’s Favorite Books
Read your child’s favorite book and have them point out the sight words they can find. Ask them to say the words with you when they recognize them.
This activity creates confident readers because they learn the flow of reading and begin to recognize different words.
Practice Every Day
Just like anything consistency is key. Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to sight words.
Refreshing that knowledge in a new way every day will help keep those words fresh in their minds and able to learn more.
Worksheets are a great way to get preschoolers learning and involved. I LOVED worksheets as a kid, they made me feel so grown up.
Worksheets are great because they allow you to help work on skills, but also monitor progress inconspicuously.
Add New Words Often
Introducing new words as they master their current words is important. This is important because they need to be challenged and also keep learning on top of what they already have built.
When you stop adding in words, children are unable to build their word bank so to speak. Adding a few words each week can be super beneficial.
Learning to read sight words is brand new to kiddos. This will be challenging and trying for them.
Make sure to stay positive and encouraging, they will get it!
What Activities Are Useful for Teaching Sight Words for Preschool?
Activities are the best part of teaching children. I love seeing their eyes light up when the light bulb turns on.
Here are some of my favorite activities for teaching sight words to preschoolers!
Each word list contains 4 high-frequency sight words and one noun. Printables for each unit include a word wheel, flashcards, word tracing practice, a cut-and-glue activity, and a sentence completion project.
Write Sight Words with Chalk
Writing words with sidewalk chalk is a fun and engaging activity. It gets kiddos outside and out of their typical learning space.
While I don’t advise using flash cards as an introduction to sight words, or a main teaching method but I think they are a great tool to have.
Sight words foster quick recognition of sight words, in turn resulting in fast readers.
You can grab my free printable sight word flashcards here.
Sight Word Hunt
Give your kiddo a list of sight words (5-10) that they are familiar with. Then instruct your little one to look for those words.
When they find the 5-10 words they are after (in books, on signs, in a show with closed captions on) have them highlight that word off!
Flashlight Tag: Sight Word Edition
Hang sight words from the ceiling and turn off all the lights. (you can do this easily with index cards, fishing line, and tape)
Then have your little one(s) find the word with their flashlight! This game is fun and engaging!
Sight word bingo is a great way to get kiddos looking out for sight words and have a little healthy competition. I would recommend laminating the cards so that you can use them over and over again!
Related Post: 12 Sight Word Bingo Printables for Your Little Reader
Write Words in Salt
Writing words in salt is a great sensory activity to practice learning sight words. The motion of writing helps for children (and really anyone) with memory.
When it comes to sight words, understanding the words and their functionality is important. Writing them out gives kids more of a chance to grasp the word.
Word matching is a great activity for children learning their sight words. They get to compare and contrast words and match up words.
These types of activities are great for memory.
Make Words with Play-Dough
Making words with play dough is a great way to use a hands-on activity to learn something. Your hands-on learners will love this activity.
Not to mention, this promotes fine motor skills!
ABC Mouse is a program that has been around for a while, and so many teachers and parents love it! ABC Mouse is a great online program for children to use.
Education.com is a great resource for children to use online at a computer or on an iPad or tablet.
Your students will learn their sight words in no time as they read, write, clap, color, trace, spell, find and tell! Use these printables while working with the whole class, in small groups, or even as homework.
Spell with Pasta
This is a fun one! Spelling with pasta is a really fun way to learn and master sight words.
If you have something like a word of the week, you can have them write the word out with noodles on construction paper and then glue them down!
Popsicle Stick Sight Word Game
Write sight words on popsicle sticks and take turns pulling them out and reading the word. Then, write dynamite on a few of the sticks.
The person that pulls out the “dynamite” stick has to put all of their sticks back in. The person with the most sticks wins!
Sight Word Songs
Singing songs is a wonderful way to learn and memorize words. I found some really fun songs to sing with kids, but there are tons out there!
Check out these songs that I found!
The other side of flashcards with lines gives the kid a opportunity to practice writing letters or reinforcing CVC words.
The consonant-vowel-consonant(CVC) word activity comes in a value pack, including 50 CVC word flashcards with pictures, 23 wooden pencil letters with blue consonants and red vowels, 2 wooden letter holders, and 1 portable draw-string bag.
Learning sight words can be fun with Coogam sight-words fishing game. The excellent value toy set comes with 220 wooden sight word fish in five levels individually packed; 4 wooden fishing poles, 5 sight word cards, and a portable draw-string bag for easy taking on the go.
I love personal whiteboards for children to practice writing their sight words. Writing words has a great benefit and helps children remember words better.
These personal whiteboards are great and come in a large multi-pack.
Using shaving cream to form letters is a creative and fun idea for little ones to learn sight words. Have little ones write different words in shaving cream and they will love this hands-on learning activity.
Related Post: Shaving Cream Writing- A Fun Learning Activity
These educational magnetic letters can help kids to practice their spelling skills and build their word skills. It is safe for your child’s eyes and helps your child to increase their confidence and inspires their creativity.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sight Words For Preschoolers
Teaching preschoolers sight words might have some questions raising for you. I am here to help answer the commonly asked questions.
What sight words should a 4 year old know?
Your 4 year old should know at least 20 sight words. These are the top 20 that they should learn:
Can sight words be taught through technology or educational apps?
Learning sight words through technology or educational apps can be beneficial for young children. I would not use technology for all teaching though because there is such a thing as too much screen time.
I also think that it’s important and beneficial for children to do lots of hands-on learning activities.
How can I assess my preschooler’s sight word knowledge?
Okay, so your preschooler is putting in all this work..so how do you know what they are learning?
Making sure that your preschooler is actually grasping is important. Here are a few ideas:
Pre and Post Test: Giving your preschooler a list of words before you start learning and then the same list, just mixed up as they progress is a great way to assess their sight word knowledge.
High Frequency Test: High frequency words are words that show up often in all books and stories. I have linked a great testing page called RazKids that have different high frequency word tests.
These two ways are my favorite ways to test for progress when it comes to sight words.
Learning sight words is an exciting time for preschoolers, however, it can be stressful. Having the right tools in your teaching toolbox is key to building a good reading foundation for your little ones.
I hope that you were able to get some good ideas and ways to teach sight words to preschoolers. Let me know in the comments if you have any more ideas!