Popcorn Words

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3.c

What You Need: Popcorn bags or containers, pencils, scissors, recording sheets, yellow construction paper

What To Do: Karen Jones, a kindergarten teacher at Lindbergh Elementary in Kenmore, New York, calls sight words “popcorn words” because they should “pop” into your head the moment you see them. “We read them. We write them. We roll them,” says Jones, who blogs at Mrs. Jones’s Class. “Anything and everything we can do to learn our popcorn words!”

Before class, Jones cuts yellow construction paper into two-by-two-inch pieces. She writes a sight word, such as walk, fly, or say, on each piece of paper, crumples it up, and places it into a popcorn bag or container for each student. Jones repeats this process until she has placed all of the sight words her students are currently learning into bags. (She typically has them review 10 to 15 words at a time.) Jones then has students sift through their bags, unfolding each piece of paper and writing the words they find on a recording sheet. Once her students have filled out their sheets, Jones checks them over to make sure each word is included and is spelled correctly.

A Bear Sighting

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3.c

What You Need: Three small paper drinking cups, labels, small plastic bear, tray, permanent marker

What To Do: Erica Crowder Roe, a kindergarten teacher at Coder Elementary in Aledo, Texas, likes to get students excited about learning their sight words by playing “Where’s the Bear?”

To begin the activity, Roe, who blogs at Sprinkles for Kindergarten, labels three small paper drinking cups with three sight words that her students are currently learning. (She makes a few sets using different sight words to add variety to each round.) She turns three of the cups over onto a tray and hides a small plastic bear underneath one cup. 

Then, Roe has students take turns guessing which cup the bear is under. To make a guess, a student has to correctly read the sight word written on the cup they choose. Next, she says, “I pick up the cup to see if the bear is under that word. Sometimes I pick up a wrong word to see if they catch me. They haven’t let me down yet!”

Learning Blocks

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3.c; K.1.B

What You Need: Large plastic or foam connecting blocks, masking tape, recording sheets, permanent marker

What To Do: Carolyn Kisloski, a kindergarten teacher at Apalachin Elementary School in New York, has her students “build” sight words out of blocks. “I wanted to combine the children’s love of building with blocks with some sight-word-building practice,” says Kisloski, who blogs at Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together. “They even choose to build words at free-choice time.”

Kisloski writes full sight words on tape and places the tape on the longer blocks in her classroom set. She then writes and tapes the individual letters needed to spell the words onto smaller blocks. (She writes the words on the tape so that she can swap them out if she wants students to build word families or CVC words.) She divides her students into two groups and asks each group to build the sight words written on the long blocks using the letter blocks. Once they’ve built a word, students read it aloud and record it.

Reading Race

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3.c; RF.1.2.b

What You Need: To make tracks: modular rug (24 carpet tiles), chalk, or masking tape; two printed copies of each of 12 sight words

What To Do: Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start to summer. It’s also when the Indianapolis 500 takes place. Jodi Southard, a first-grade teacher at Lost Creek Elementary in Terre Haute, Indiana, brings both events into her classroom by hosting a sight-word race.

Before class, Southard creates a space for her students to move while they “race to their sight words.” She uses a carpet featuring colorful squares, but you can create your own track with masking tape or chalk. (Create two tracks, featuring two parallel rows of six squares large enough for kids to stand in.) Then, she prints two copies of each of the 12 sight words and places one in each square on both tracks.

To begin the game, Southard divides the class into two teams. Each member must recognize and read the sight word they are standing in front of before moving on. The team that moves the fastest through the words wins. “This can easily be adapted for any grade level,” says Southard, who blogs at Fun in First. “It’s the perfect way to get students moving while practicing [vocabulary].”

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Photo: Courtesy of Karen Jones