Teaching Families – Sight Words Without Flashcards

I love teaching first grade.

I love teaching reading.

It’s so helpful when families are on board and help their students with homework and nightly reading.  But I know the reality is that life is crazy (mine is, too and my kids aren’t even old enough to have homework yet!) and parents don’t always know how to help their kids.  I honestly believe that all parents want the best for their kids, but we have to help them learn how to support their child’s learning.

I am also terrified to teaching adults.  Why are big people so much scarier than little people?

So, knowing that I’m a terrible public speaker to adults but also that I want to help parents help their kids, I decided it would be a great idea to teach a 6 week family program!  We are working with our county Literacy Coalition, who received a grant for family programming, so we have a pretty nice budget to put on these events.

Each night includes a family dinner and then an hour long learning session.  I teach the parents strategies and awesome teacher volunteers teach the students a corresponding activity.

Session 1 was focused on learning sightwords.  I put together a bunch of centers with sightword games and the parents and kids played together.  At the end of the night I gave parents a ring with directions for each game and a huge packet of materials to play all the games from the night.  My goal is to add strategies to the ring each week so that parents have a wide range of ideas to pull from when working with their kiddos.

Here’s what I included in the sightword night:

Who Stole the Cookie? 


(click the picture to see this game in my Tpt store)

This is one of my students’ favorite centers!  Inspired by Miss Kindergarten (you can see her original post here) students work in small groups to find the hidden cookie by reading sightwords.  I also play this as a whole group during the first few weeks of the school year.

How to play:

1. Arrange sightword cards in a pocket chart.

2. One player hides the cookie by putting it behind a sightword card.

3. The other players take turns guessing who stole the cookie by reading the word on a card.

4. When a word is guessed, the first player picks up the word card, looks for the cookie and then returns the card to the pocket chart face down.

5.  Play continues until the cookie is found.

Super Hero SMASH!

 wpid-20150302_190916.jpg(click the picture to see this game in my TpT store)

This is a favorite game in my room!  Inspired by The Pleastest Thing (you can view the original post here) it involves sight words and super heroes – what could be better?!?

Here’s how to play:

1. Fold the cards into “tents” and arrange them in the playing area.

2. On your turn, select a word and read it aloud.  If you read the word correctly, use your super hero to “smash” the word flat

3. Players take turns reading and smashing words.

Sight Word Toss-Across

wpid-20150302_191415.jpg(click the picture to see this game in my TpT store)

Another simple, but super fun way to practice sight words!

Here’s how to play:

1.  Set up two muffin tins ( I use the 6 cup kind) with one word in the bottom of each cup.

2.   Players sit across from each other – I tell my kiddos to sit so that their finger tips just touch if their arms are extended toward each other – then place a muffin tin in front of them.

3.  One player tosses a pom-pom into the other players muffin tin.

4.  The second player picks up the card from the bottom of the cup where the pom-pom landed and shows it to the first player.  Then, the first player reads the word.

5.  If the player reads the word correctly, he/she keeps the word card.  If not, he places it in one of his muffin cups.

6.  Play continues until all words have been read.

Shaving Cream, Play dough and Sand




Nothing creative here…write the words, read the words.  I did caution parents to make sure they leave a word card available for the child while writing until the child knows the word easily.



It’s tic-tac-toe, but with sight words.  Read, then mark your X or O.

Fluency Reads


Another classroom favorite from Cara Carroll (click here to see it in her TpT store).  Students read the phrases in a variety of “voice.”  These are hilarious when the kids get really into the voice cards!

Go Fish, Memory, My – Your Pile, and Snap

wpid-20150302_191216.jpgAlong with the theme of keeping the ideas simple, these games just use sight word flash cards but are way more fun than rote reading.


1.  Arrange cards face down on the table.

2.  Turn over two cards.  Read the words aloud.

3.  If the cards match, the player keeps the cards and takes another turn.

4.  Play continues until all cards have been matched.

Go Fish

1.  Each player is dealt 6 cards.  The remaining cards are placed in the “go fish” pile in the middle.

2.  Players take turns asking each other for words in order to make pairs.  When a match is made, the player takes another turn.

3.  Play continues until one player has matched all his/her cards.

My Pile-Your Pile

1.  Start with all the cards in one pile.

2.  Flash the cards one at a time to the child.

3.  If the child reads the word quickly he keeps the card.

4.  If the child cannot read the word quickly (3 seconds or less) you keep the card.

5.  After reading all the words, pick a few that the child did not have quickly (your pile) to practice)


1.  Each player turns over a card at the same time.

2.  If the words on the two cards match, the first player to read the word gets to keep the cards.

3.  Continue until all words have been shown.

I am working on a Family Learning packet, which I’ll post to TpT once all 6 family sessions are complete.  It will include all the orange cards pictured here with game directions as well as all of the strategies I’m teaching in the upcoming lessons, including prompting, writing with Elkonin boxes, fluency procedures, comprehension and writing.  I created a ring for each family so that they would have tons of strategies at their fingertips to use at home with their child.

I hope you enjoyed the ideas here!  I’d love to hear how you practice sight words in your classroom, too!

Happy Teaching,



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