Word Toss. Gross Motor game for learning Sight Words

May 4, 2014

Even before Maddie (5) started school, we had begun working on some sight words as many commonly used words are unable to be "sounded-out" and knowing them instantly, helps aid in the flow of reading text and therefore, improves comprehension. Now that Maddie is at school, learning sight words is an actual expectation and something that we have to work on.

Reading and practicing words from a list is fine, but there is no way of knowing if your child has actually learnt to read that word automatically or not, unless you test them off the list. Children are fantastic at memorising certain things and whilst you may think that pointing to words out of order on a list, shows they are able to read the words, you may be surprised when they come across the same word in a book later and are unable to read it. This is because they have memorised the exact format of the text on the list as well as it's location. Remembering them like this is good, it's an important step, but there is still a bit more work to be done on them to ensure they are properly learnt.

In order to ensure that your child has actually learnt the word and is able to read it automatically (without hesitation), they need multiple exposures to the words in different contexts. Like with everything else, some children may pick them up very quickly with limited exposure, while some may need to have more exposure and practice.

Here is a fun game that has kids reading their sight words whilst burning off a bit of energy at the same time.

Age: 3+
(See bottom for tips to simplify or extend to meet your child's needs)

  • Paper/card
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Basket/tub
  • Stopwatch (optional)

How to play:
  • Write your sight words onto paper or card and cut each one out individually
  • Children throw their sight words into the air and run around collecting them and putting them into a basket
  • They may only put one word in at a time and they must read the word correctly before placing it in the basket
  • Practice as many times as your child is willing, challenging them to do it faster on each time. (Adding in a stopwatch to record exact times adds extra learning and can make it even more exciting as they race to beat their own time.)

Like with everything else, her toddler brother wanted to join in too! He's not at the reading word stage yet but that didn't stop him having fun.

    Handy Tips:

    Simplify this activity for children by focusing on a smaller group of words at a time. You can even put in multiple copies of the same word (especially any they struggle with) to increase your child's exposure to them.

    - Extend this activity for children a number of ways:
    • Have them write and cut out the words first themselves
    • Print out multiple copies of the words in different fonts and have children collect words in groups of the same word
    • Add in some words from previously learnt word lists to allow children to go back over ones they've previously learnt
    • Have children form sentences using their collected words and write them down
    • Ask children which words they could add to their game to form funny sentences using the word cards
    • Use a stopwatch to time each new toss and collect attempt. Have children record and compare their times, aiming for a PB (personal best).

    Mix it up by working in teams and racing against one another to collect and read all your words first

    When we test children on their sight words, it is usually from little cards that have each word written on it individually. These are shown to the child one at a time, in a different order from what they appear on their word list and will often be in a different font. You may want to try testing your children's words like this before they are tested at school, so that you, (and they) are confident that they do actually know them.

    - Repeat this activity as often as you like because children need repetition to consolidate their learning and understanding. .

    - More ways to learn sight words:

    Happy playing,
    Debs :)

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