Ideas for Students Struggling with Sight Words


Every year I have a handful of students that just really struggle with sight words- usually it’s the words that aren’t concrete words like:












These are just a few.  Most of the kids seem to pick up on them (even the struggling readers that I work with)… but, there are always the few that cannot seem to grasp these UNRULY words.  (Get it?  They don’t follow the rules. LOL)

I have one student in particular who is struggling with sight words this year.  She is doing well with the other reading strategies we have been learning.  Her comprehension is good and she is learning to use good “word attack” skills.  These words are definitely what is holding her back.  We have done a few things so far this year.  She reads our new words everyday when she walks into the room (and she struggles everyday).  Here is a picture.  She has to read the word as she walks across them.  (I have a safari theme going on in my room- can you tell?)

We also review them on the Smart Board everyday.  I have a free Notebook file you can download that goes in the order that I do our sight words.  I use the Lucy Calkins list from Teachers College of Reading and Writing.  I wrote a post awhile back that explains why I like this list better than Dolch or Fry.  You can check it out here if you are interested.  You can also find that Notebook file on that blog post if you are interested:)

Anyway, we occasionally play games using our sight words.  This still isn’t working!  So, I had to come up with something different- something just for her.  This is what I have done.  This student loves to draw so I quickly assessed her the other day to find out which words she is still struggling with.  I then made flashcards using some of these words.  I made the words with the letter boxes around the letters to help her distinguish what the word “looks” like a little better.  ( I bought the letter box letters as a font from Mel at Graphics from the Pond).  We reviewed the words together and I asked her to draw a picture to go with each word that would help her to remember that particular word.  This is what she came up with.

saw- she has arrows pointing to the eyes

how- she said “how” do you draw so well

or- there is a choice between computer or tv

after- mom went home after she went to the store

they- picture of her family

jump- someone jumping on trampoline

out- (I don’t remember what she said for this one??)

off- turn off the light

I also put a sentence on the back so that she is reading the words in a sentence as well as in isolation so that hopefully she will begin to transfer this to her reading.

Then I laminated them and cut them into flashcards and put them on a ring.

We have been reviewing them one on one for a quick minute or two for a couple of days- so far, I have seen improvement!!  YEA!  I hope it continues… my next step is to make different flashcards with just the words in the letterboxes and then transfer to just reading the words without letter boxes.  

I plan to add 4 new words every few days if she can keep up.  If not, we will slow it down a little bit.

I would love to hear any tips and ideas you have used to help students similar to this little girl:)  If  you have a blog and have written a post, you can leave the link in the comments.  If you don’t have a blog and can tell me in the comments I would love that!

On another note, we do Everyday Math at our school and we are still including money in our curriculum right now (even though it isn’t in Common Core for first grade).  Everyday Math has a game called Dime, Nickel, Penny Grab.  I have revised this game to make it a little more interesting.  I made a Nickel Penny version that I have shared on a different post at some point and now I have added the Nickels as well.  You can get it for FREE is you are also doing money:)  Students act like they are buying an ice cream cone and they grab a random amount of coins to see how much their cone cost them.  

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  • What a great idea! I have students who struggle with sight words as well. I think making it personal for her made all the difference! I will have to do this for some of students who struggle with sight words. Thanks for sharing the idea!

  • I love your cuter versions of Penny Nickel Grab! We use EDM and are keeping coins in our curriculum despite CCSS. I found you on Classroom Freebies and I'm your newest follower!

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