Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
November 8, 2017

4 Simple Sight Word and Spelling Games for Centers

By Nancy Jang
Grades 1–2

    I love to teach reading in small groups, but sometimes it can be a challenge to keep my other little firsties busy, productive, and out of mischief while they are working at centers. What I have very quickly learned is that for my kids to STAY engaged in centers, the activities need to be easy to do and most important, FUN!

    Although seatwork is one of the centers, the other centers are the ones the kids LOVE to do. They often moan and groan when we have an assembly or something else that may interrupt our Center Time Games.

    All the games that I share below use first grade sight and spelling words that are included in our newly adopted English Language Arts textbook, but they can be easily modified for math facts or vocabulary words.

    Sight Word SPLAT! (3–4 players)

    For this game, I bought a few fly swatters from the 99 cents store. I write the sight words for the current week and previous week on die cuts that I bought from the teacher supply store, but you could substitute index cards just as easily. You can either stick the cards on a wall or leave them on the floor. Player one and Player two are the swatters. Player three will be the word caller and Player four can keep score on a whiteboard. If you have three students, then the caller can also keep score. When the caller says one of the sight words, the players scan the words on the cards and the first one who identifies the word swats it. The first player to swat the correct answer, gets one point. The first player to get ten points wins!

     

    Word Play Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players or whole class in pairs)

    Tic-tac-toe rules from The Spruce

    I printed out tic-tac-toe boards and put them into a clear sheet protector for my first graders to use with their dry erase markers. If you have older kids, they can draw a board directly on to a whiteboard or sheet of blank paper. I found it helpful to play basic tic-tac-toe with my whole class before putting it in our center rotation. I post between six and ten sight or spelling words for the students to use instead of X’s or O’s, otherwise the kids play according to the normal rules. When writing the sight word in the square, the student must spell it out loud. If they spell it incorrectly (either out loud or written in the square), they lose that square. The kids play five games, and the player with the most games won is the overall winner.

    Extension: Make tally marks next to each word to see which word wins the most games!

     

    Spelling Speedway (3–6 players)

    I used sentence strips to create a play raceway and bought toy cars from the 99 cent store. (Teacher tip: the longer the raceway, the more fun it is!) I wrote our spelling words on index cards.

    To play: One player will be the caller while the other players pick a car to start at their starting line. The caller reads a word. Each player gets a chance to spell the word. If they spell it correctly, they each move up one space. If they spell it wrong, they stay in the same space. The first player to reach the finish line wins!

     

    Hopscotch rules taken from Parents.com

    Sight Word Hopscotch (2–4 players per court)

    Use the traditional hopscotch rules to play, but in this version, write sight words in each box first. When a player puts a foot in the box, they must read the word. If they are unable to read it, their turn is over and their marker stays in the same square. At our school we have ten hopscotch courts on our playground, so it’s easy to take my class outside, write the words in sidewalk chalk in each square, and we can all play at the same time as a PE activity. However, during centers I need the kids to stay in my classroom. So I made two hopscotch courts with painter’s tape and index cards with the words on them to put into each square so that it can be played inside my classroom.

    These games have harnessed the energy and fun-loving nature of my little first graders into productive learning during center time and allowed me to regain instructional time and attention with my small reading groups.  

    I hope your kiddos enjoy these games and that they bring a little bit of fun into learning!

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

    I love to teach reading in small groups, but sometimes it can be a challenge to keep my other little firsties busy, productive, and out of mischief while they are working at centers. What I have very quickly learned is that for my kids to STAY engaged in centers, the activities need to be easy to do and most important, FUN!

    Although seatwork is one of the centers, the other centers are the ones the kids LOVE to do. They often moan and groan when we have an assembly or something else that may interrupt our Center Time Games.

    All the games that I share below use first grade sight and spelling words that are included in our newly adopted English Language Arts textbook, but they can be easily modified for math facts or vocabulary words.

    Sight Word SPLAT! (3–4 players)

    For this game, I bought a few fly swatters from the 99 cents store. I write the sight words for the current week and previous week on die cuts that I bought from the teacher supply store, but you could substitute index cards just as easily. You can either stick the cards on a wall or leave them on the floor. Player one and Player two are the swatters. Player three will be the word caller and Player four can keep score on a whiteboard. If you have three students, then the caller can also keep score. When the caller says one of the sight words, the players scan the words on the cards and the first one who identifies the word swats it. The first player to swat the correct answer, gets one point. The first player to get ten points wins!

     

    Word Play Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players or whole class in pairs)

    Tic-tac-toe rules from The Spruce

    I printed out tic-tac-toe boards and put them into a clear sheet protector for my first graders to use with their dry erase markers. If you have older kids, they can draw a board directly on to a whiteboard or sheet of blank paper. I found it helpful to play basic tic-tac-toe with my whole class before putting it in our center rotation. I post between six and ten sight or spelling words for the students to use instead of X’s or O’s, otherwise the kids play according to the normal rules. When writing the sight word in the square, the student must spell it out loud. If they spell it incorrectly (either out loud or written in the square), they lose that square. The kids play five games, and the player with the most games won is the overall winner.

    Extension: Make tally marks next to each word to see which word wins the most games!

     

    Spelling Speedway (3–6 players)

    I used sentence strips to create a play raceway and bought toy cars from the 99 cent store. (Teacher tip: the longer the raceway, the more fun it is!) I wrote our spelling words on index cards.

    To play: One player will be the caller while the other players pick a car to start at their starting line. The caller reads a word. Each player gets a chance to spell the word. If they spell it correctly, they each move up one space. If they spell it wrong, they stay in the same space. The first player to reach the finish line wins!

     

    Hopscotch rules taken from Parents.com

    Sight Word Hopscotch (2–4 players per court)

    Use the traditional hopscotch rules to play, but in this version, write sight words in each box first. When a player puts a foot in the box, they must read the word. If they are unable to read it, their turn is over and their marker stays in the same square. At our school we have ten hopscotch courts on our playground, so it’s easy to take my class outside, write the words in sidewalk chalk in each square, and we can all play at the same time as a PE activity. However, during centers I need the kids to stay in my classroom. So I made two hopscotch courts with painter’s tape and index cards with the words on them to put into each square so that it can be played inside my classroom.

    These games have harnessed the energy and fun-loving nature of my little first graders into productive learning during center time and allowed me to regain instructional time and attention with my small reading groups.  

    I hope your kiddos enjoy these games and that they bring a little bit of fun into learning!

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Nancy's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
Easy, Adorable Holiday Cards and Crafts

Check out these five fun cards and crafts that can be completed in under ten minutes with inexpensive materials that you already have in your classroom. Plus, find a fun-filled STEAM Christmas Countdown Calendar for you to use!

By Nancy Jang
December 12, 2016
Blog Post
A Sweet Thanksgiving Thank You!

I wanted to share with you what I am thankful for as well as a cookie recipe to thank all of you for reading my posts here on the Top Teaching blog!

By Nancy Jang
November 23, 2016
Blog Post
Election Day Extravaganza: No-Prep Lesson Plans

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying the three branches of government. Now, with the election around the corner, it’s a great time to explore how a president is elected, and have our own election day.

By Nancy Jang
October 26, 2016
Blog Post
Easy and Awesome Autumn Art

Every year, teachers search for crafts and projects that connect to the season. But when I mention drawing or teaching elements of art, I often hear: “I can’t draw.”  Read on for proof that everyone can draw and if you are a teacher, you can teach art.

By Nancy Jang
October 12, 2016
Blog Post
October Homework: Full STEM Ahead!

October is around the corner and pumpkin decorations are everywhere. This is the perfect setting for our first STEM assignment: Pumpkin Chunkin’ Catapults! Read on to learn how to build your own!

By Nancy Jang
September 28, 2016

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us