I don’t know about other homeschooling / unschooling families out there but I’ve always been overwhelmed with the idea of trying to teach reading. Letter recognition, letter sounds, those seem easy but piecing that together into reading just seems hard! Especially because the English language has so many weird exceptions, silent letters, words that sound the same but are spelled different, etc.
Luckily for me, my daughter is a SPONGE and soaks up all knowledge. She WANTS to learn and has been starting to ask how things are spelled.
Being an unschooler, I haven’t wanted to push reading before she is ready – but since she’s showing interest in the subject, I’ve taken the opportunity to introduce sight words and work reading into our everyday lives.
I personally think that memorizing sight words can be really really really boring and is a bit too much like public school learning for my liking. Here’s how we use the concept of sight words, but make it fun, and easy too!
First, I looked up a list of sight words that are typically learned at ages 5 – 6. I copied words from the Dolch Sight Words Kindergarten and 1st grade lists (you can also download these as pdfs) onto colored index cards.
Overachiever Confession: I really wanted to color code the parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) but didn’t have enough index cards / colors to do this. I figured I’ll update our system once we’re actually ready to cover those concepts. She’s only 5 after all!
I found and purchased a photo album and organized the index cards alphabetically into the pockets. This helps me be able to easily see what words we have to work with and find specific words as needed.
I also bought a few colored magnets at the dollar tree and voila! our sight word system was complete!
We choose 8 words to work with at a time. K likes to be involved and pick out her words, so I let her choose 4 words and I choose the other 4. Typically I choose words that can be used to make multiple short sentences or phrases.
Using sight words with actual context seems to really help K learn them! Plus she likes to rearrange the words to see what sentences she can come up with. This provides us with opportunities to discuss sentence structure and verb tense too!
While the concept of “sight words” is generally to know the word “on sight”, we initially work on sounding out the words, rather than straight memorization. The “on sight” part comes when I ask her to point to specific words – which I don’t really do daily… it’s pretty random, because well…unschooling. 😉
I plan to start writing the date next to each sight word as we learn/ review them so I can see and remember the last time we worked with a specific word. I’ll likely do this in pencil so I can erase / re-write as we add new words in.
So there you have it! Our super simple system for making sight words easy and fun! How do you approach reading / sight words at home? Tell me in a comment!