1. Introduction

We begin introducing a new word with a simple exercise, where you say and have the child repeat the word while looking at the flash card.

Having the child spell and say the word focuses the child’s attention on the word and the way it is constructed, helping them form the memory of the sight word. We aren’t too concerned right now with their ability to spell the word correctly from memory; this is primarily a technique to help them recognize and remember the word.

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2. Procedure

Video: Technique Two: Spell Reading

Be sure to hold the flash card at arm’s length from your body, and at arm’s length from the child. The flash card also needs to be held at the child’s eye level. We want to make sure that the child is focused on the written word on the flash card, not on your face or mouth.

Each and every time the sight word is read aloud, the person saying it should use two fingers of the right hand, their index and middle fingers, to trace the arrow on the flash card from left to right, thereby “underlining” the word. This helps keep the child’s attention focused on the written word, which will help them to become familiar with and memorize the word and its correct spelling.

When either adult or child spells the word, they should point at each letter as they say it. Again, use two fingers to point, and do this every time the word is spelled out.

Here is a sample script for you to follow:

Adult: Let’s spell-read this word. My turn.
            Ready? FLY. F-L-Y. FLY.
            Again: FLY. F-L-Y. FLY.
            Your turn.

Child: FLY. F-L-Y. FLY.
Adult: Again. Get ready!
Child: FLY. F-L-Y. FLY.
Adult: One more time.
Child: FLY. F-L-Y. FLY.
Adult: Good job!

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18 Responses to “Technique Two: Spell Reading”

  1. JMorrow

    How would you do this in a small group? Can all children do the motions without touching the card?

    ADMIN – Hi J Morrow,

    To play the game with a small group, you can have the children in a small semi-circle facing the card. They should be about three steps back from the card, so when they reach out they are not touching the card, no each other Instead of each child touching the cart, they point at appropriate part of the flash card while doing the See Spell activity.

  2. jermje thomas

    This is a great foundation for children to learn to spell and learn to read and write.

  3. Michelle

    Hi there,

    My daughter is currently learning the letter sounds at school so would it be confusing for her to be spelling the letters’ names rather than the sounds for these sight words?

    Would very much appreciate your feedback on this.

    Kind regards,

    ADMIN – Hi Michelle,

    If your daughter is studying letter sounds at school, then she’s not yet ready for sight words. Kids need to know the names of the lower-case letters before learning most sight words. Just be patient: learning the letter sounds is a crucial skill for young children who will soon be learning to read.

  4. Dianne Frothingham

    Thank you for an effective strategy and very clear instructions on how to do it!

  5. Emma Raymond

    Hi, my daughter is learning the letter sounds at school, she is only on the 2nd group of the jolly phonics. She also has sight words that she’s supposed to know but doesn’t. How can I do the techniques when she doesn’t know all of the letter sounds. Would doing the first technique work on it’s own for the moment?

    ADMIN – Hi Emma,

    I would prioritize learning the letter sounds (and the letter names). If you absolutely need to jump to sight words, you can still do the parts requiring letter names, that will help her get familiarity with the letter names.

  6. Trinh Nguyen

    Hi There,

    My son is studying phonics at school. Is it okay to teach him sight word without spell reading.
    Hope to know your concern

    ADMIN – Trinh,

    Yes, you can skip this technique if it isn’t useful to you. None of the techniques are mandatory, they are each designed to stimulate the child’s brain in a slightly different way to aid retention. But, if one of them isn’t useful to your child, then feel free to skip it.

  7. Carlos

    1. How many words can you introduce each day/week?
    2. How much time can I practice with my child daily?

    ADMIN – Hi Carlos,

    Sounds like you are doing this for just one child? I would be guided by their attention and interest. Ideally you are ending the practice just before they lose attention.

    For a young child (4-5 years old), 3-5 simple new words per week might be plenty. For an older child (6-7 years old), 10 complex words might be about right. But again, they are very crude guidelines – you want enough words to be challenging, not so many that it is overwhelming and they can’t reach mastery by the end of the week. If you still haven’t mastered the last weeks words, don’t hesitate to slow down and stay with the old set of words, or return to them later in the month.

  8. Jeremye

    Hi, I am a Grade 2 teacher, and I’m handling non-reader students. I have 40 students in my classroom. Can you suggest a strategy that can help me introduce concepts like this?

  9. Rhio angelie s Lopez

    How many words can you introduce each day/week? I am Grade 5, and I am 10 years old. Thank you.

  10. KFBerry

    This was extremely helpful. I looking forward to implementing these techniques.

  11. Jennifer

    Help, please. My daughter is in First Grade and is reading on a 3rd Grade level. She knows and reads all sight words well but can’t spell them very well. What technique would help her with the spelling?

  12. Avril

    Hi, which sounds of letters does my child need to know before learning sight words? Long or short vowels? Also, does she need to know the names of both upper and lower case letters before learning sight words?


  13. shoaina

    I teach autistic kids of grade 3 and 4, so should I present ten words? Isn’t it better to present lesser?

    ADMIN – Hi Shoaina,

    Great observation. As you mentioned, it is always better to few enough words that it is manageable for your kids. For some kids that will be less than 10, for some kids more than 10. If in doubt, do fewer words.

  14. Lakythia Ferby

    Hi, Is there a reason we dont give a definition or use it in a sentence when teaching the words.

  15. Amalia Lee

    Thank you so much for teaching this technique. I love visiting this site to get some information how to teach kids. Thank you so much.:)

  16. Cathy

    Thank you so much for sharing these videos. My child is autistic and I am trying my best to teach her as much as I can. This will help me so much. I am excited to try to teach her sight words.

  17. Abraham

    Hello Admin,
    I am very happy with the work and research you have done. This site has really helped me to help the students I am working with, within the early years.
    Kindly, I would like to have your picture flashcards. Abraham

    ADMIN – Hi Abraham, Thank you for your kinds words. As for pictures, you are certainly free to use pictures along with our flash cards and games. However, if you mean, can we add the pictures to our flash cards, I’m afraid not. The purpose of the sight words flash cards is to help the children sight-read the words as a whole. Pictures, while helpful in understanding the object or concept being taught, can also distract from the primary focus of the lesson, which is word recognition. If you want, you can prepare your own separate object pictures on the side, or point to actual objects that are easily accessible in your teaching space. You may also want to check out FAQ #2 here: https://sightwords.com/sight-words/faqs/. Cheers.

  18. Sanders

    Please, I’m teaching speaking and listening to my preschoolers, grades 1 to 10. I would like to have step-by-step topics and procedures/ techniques I can use to teach them as I’m not a native English speaker but am interested to teach. Please help me. Thank you.


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