Learning Sight Words. Gross Motor Reading Game

Sep 14, 2013

Here is a simple Sight Word Reading Game that we played the other day.

As learning sight words is all about repetition and exposure, we try to encourage the reading and writing of the words as often as possible. By turning the reading of the words into a game, you will find children suddenly want to play!

Ages: 3+
(See the Handy Tips at the bottom to simplify or extend to meet your child's needs)

  • Sight Words Poster (it is more meaningful if the child has made their own but any large piece of paper with the sight words written on it is fine)
  • Playdough
  • Pieces of card with each sight word written on them (optional extra)

  • Challenge the child to pick a word on the poster (which they read out)
  • They roll a small ball out of playdough
  • The child attempts to throw the playdough ball onto their chosen sight word
  • Continue until all words have been achieved 

It was more challenging to get a little ball of playdough to land exactly (and stay) on your chosen word than we'd first thought so each accomplishment was celebrated.

Maddie (aged 4) enjoyed looking over the poster each time to choose a new word. Talk with them about the characteristics of the word. You could ask questions like, What letter does it start with?, What sound does that letter make?, Can you see any smaller words in the chosen word? (ie. "at" in "that") etc.

After much trialling, it was discovered that a smaller underarm toss while kneeling was the easiest way for her to get the playdough balls onto (and to stay on!) the required words. There was a lot of gross motor, movement, coordination and concentration that took place.

There are lots of chances to practice and revisit words while you are playing by having the child read over the words they've already managed to land balls on and discuss the words that are left. 
Will certain words be trickier to land on than others? Why?

Adding to the game herself, she got the cards that I'd written the words onto and started matching them to the words on the poster.

Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by starting it with fewer and easier sight words. Start with a few basics like, "the" and "and" or some simple 2 letter words that can be sounded-out, like "to," "me," "on," etc.  You can even go back to single letters if that's what your child is working on.

Extend this activity by:
  • First having the children make their sight word poster (like we did here)
  • Having the children make a set of sight word cards and then using them to randomly pick the words that they must land the playdough ball on
  • Using larger/harder sets of words
  • Matching sight word cards to the sight words on the poster
  • Using real balls instead of playdough. This will make it very challenging to have the ball stop exactly on the word but can work if the balls are rolled instead of thrown.

Mix it up by using the same game to help recognise and read letters, numbers, colours, shapes and so on.

- Make it a multi-player game by working in pairs or small groups. Divide the words amongst the players and use a different coloured playdough per player. Taking it in turns to choose and throw, who will be the first to land a playdough ball on all of their words?

-  More activities that help us learn sight words.
(Click the picture to take you to the post)
sight words, literacy activity, kids activity

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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  1. You seriously make learning to read so much fun. I have no idea how Miss Possum learnt to read so quickly with out these awesome tricks ( a natural born reader I think). The twins will need these sorts of games to stay focused. Just love it Debs!

    1. That's very kind of you Penny, thanks :) Like with all skills, the rate at which children pick it up can be shown in a bell curve graph with some children at one extreme (for example)of seeing a sight word once and remembering it and then those at the other end of the spectrum that will need many, many, many exposures to the same thing before they are able to learn it and then, of course, everything in between :)

  2. This is so creative & fun.
    A very clever way for little ones to learn.
    My son isn't at this stage yet but I am definitely pinning it to do in the future.

  3. That is a clever game for learning sight words. It looks like a lot of fun.
    : 0 ) Theresa (Capri + 3)

  4. I struggle with sight words...I just don't enjoy doing them (but I know they are important). But making it a bit more fun might work.

  5. This is great! I can see it working on our driveway too with chalk. I'd love for you to share this on our After School Linky Party. We're featuring Sight Words this week. http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2013/09/sight-word-word-family-activities-after.html I've pinned your post onto my Sight Word Pinterest Board too.

  6. This looks like so much fun - pinning it :)

  7. This looks like so much fun - pinning it :)

  8. We haven't started sight words yet, or many words really. Jack's just not that interested :( Give him numbers or drawing or blocks and he's engaged and content but nothing really with words. Locking this away for when the interest surfaces :)

  9. I love the incorporation of movement into this. I am a kinaesthetic learner and I feel as though my eldest (2.5) is too. When the time comes, this is just what she will need to not only stay focused and interested but also to actually retain the information. Very creative, thank you!

  10. I love Sight Word games. This is a great one. Clever Maddie

  11. Every one of your ideas is great, Debs - love this one too! Thanks so much for linking up at After School.

  12. What a great idea! :) I think even my pre-reader would enjoy doing this. She's good at recognising letters on their own... we might start with that and work our way to simple sight words!

  13. I love this game, and I think it would be perfect for my 5 year old who is just starting to gain an understanding of sight words. Love that it includes gross motor skills too :-)

  14. Such a great way to get children engaged in literacy and so simply done in the home. Love this and Maddy is a star!

  15. Hey There )
    We a team of developers Action Group Ltd. We created a new and unique - game with words "Say Another Way" - A FUN WORKOUT FOR YOUR BRAIN.
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    Explain words in your own way

  16. This looks like heaps of fun! Clever mama making such an engaging activity :)

  17. Is it you hear about Response To Intervention Software program started by Texas Education Solution for children who are suffering from Dyslexia ( it is an problem in some children by which they feel difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal intelligence).It helps a lot for children who are not good in study....Thanks for sharing this learning idea Superb!

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