How many of you have thought “sight words” and “high frequency words” were the same thing? How many of you also thought that those high frequency/sight words were simply learned by memorization and repetition because they’re all spelled “irregularly” aka you can’t sound them out?
You’re not alone. I too thought these same things. But doing anything simply by memorization and repetition just isn’t fun and quite frankly, it gets old fast. So I did some research and learned some pretty amazing things.
What are high frequency words?
High frequency words are exactly what their name suggests- words that appear at a high frequency in a text. They aren’t all spelled irregularly because some words are spelled phonetically, such as “can” or “like”. These words will simply be words students encounter across an array of books very often.
So what’s the difference between those and sight words? Sight words are words that students know instantly by sight. When students learn those high frequency words and they begin to become very familiar with them, that is when they turn into those “sight words”.
How are they best learned?
The brain is a pretty complex organ that stores a lot of information. When it comes to reading and learning new words, using a multisensory approach helps to activate the brain in three areas – The part where meaning is stored, where spelling is stored, and where sounds are stored.
In order for students to truly learn a word, they must attach meaning to it. Teaching words in context is a good way to do this and having students use it in their own sentence is great too. Once they learn a new word, providing ample opportunities for students to keep hearing, seeing, and using it will all help them turn that high frequency word into a sight word.
Spelling plays a pretty big part in truly memorizing that word as well. Chances are if you can spell a word, you can read it. Sometimes you can read a word but not know how to spell it, so being able to do both will ensure true mastery.
Sounds are important for learning any new word so of course the high frequency words are no exception. Connecting sounds in a word to the letters in the word is called orthographic mapping. David Kilpatrick, a reading researcher and author of Equipped for Reading Success defines orthographic mapping as ‘the process the brain uses to permanently store words into long term memory’. That speaks to the importance of learning those crucial sounds in a word, no matter how “irregular” they may seem.
Now that we understand the importance and how students can master and move these words into their long term memory, we can get into all the fun ways to help them! One of my favorite quotes when it comes to education talks is actually about play.
According to research by Dr. Karyn Purvis, scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.
How powerful is that? This tells me if I want mastery to happen sooner, I need to let my students play! I wanted to create a hassle free, super fun way for my students to practice their high frequency words turned sight words, throughout the whole year.
Year Long Activities
How amazing would you feel if you had themed, hands-on activities for students to practice reading, constructing, spelling, and writing, in ONE place to pull out as soon as you need? Well look no further because I’ve created it!
Year Long Hands On Editable Sight Words
This growing bundle includes themed, hands-on activities that are sure to engage your students throughout the year. Each set comes with the Fry First 100 cards, along with editable cards included to add your own high frequency, sight, or heart words. The task box labels are also added for easy storage and organization! These are perfect for small groups, centers, or even as an early finisher activity. If you love these, you can grab the jam packed bundle HERE and enjoy each new resource for free as it becomes available!
For Valentine’s Day, student’s can build all the sweet sight words their heart desires with this activity. To make it even sweeter, load your kiddos up with some real conversation hearts to have a treat once they’re done recording all their words!
Editable Valentine’s Day Sight Words
Enjoy the sunny weather while having students plant all their sight words in these cute flowerpots! Spruce this activity up with a dirt filled sensory box, let students trace the word in their dirt, and then have them build their sight word flowers before writing each on their recording sheet. Talk about fun!
Get spooky with your sight words with these ghost and haunted houses! Students will have a scary good time building their high frequency words out of ghosts with this activity!
Editable Halloween Sight Words
Of course I couldn’t have you read all of this and not give you a freebie! To thank you for subscribing, check out this awesome Lucky Sight Word activity to get those kiddos playing!
Grab this free resource now!
I really hope you enjoyed learning about high frequency words and ways to keep it fun to teach and practice! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Lucky Sight Words FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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