Beginning Readers: How to Teach Children Sight Words

by Oye Akintan on May 20, 2021

When parents start teaching their children to read, it can be challenging to determine where to begin. Do you start with familiar things at home? Their name? Farm animals, colors, and numbers?

The truth is that there are many different techniques when it comes to teaching children to read. For beginning readers, one of the easiest ways to build their vocabulary is to start with sight words.

What Are Sight Words?

Only 100 or so words make up around 50% of the text that young students read. These are sight words—high-frequency words that every reader encounters. Although they can’t necessarily be sounded out or defined phonetically, beginning readers recognize these words “by sight.” This means they don’t have to be decoded or analyzed.

Having a robust base of sight words will help children learn more complex words much more quickly. Teachers and early education institutions build their own lists of sight words for every reading level. The most common are “a, or, the, it, and” and others. Once children learn sight words in kindergarten, they are expected to still know those words as they go through higher reading levels.

Teaching Sight Words

Children learn sight words through memorization, and there are many ways to teach them. Whether they learn through a formal classroom setting or informally through games or playtime, you should choose the best and most effective way that meets your child’s needs.

Learning sight words involves a lot of practice and repetition. Children need to be exposed to new vocabulary as often as possible, multiple times a day. While it’s important for children to experience learning in a formal setting, there is tremendous value in learning while playing.  The best way to keep their attention on their reading lessons is to make it fun.

You can take out the flashcards once a day, but fun reading games can make the learning experience much more enjoyable. Alternatively, there are many resources available online with sight word games, worksheets, or unique ideas for interactive reading activities. Here are some creative and engaging ways to teach your child sight words:

  • Sight word bingo – You can make your own sight word bingo cards or download them online. To play, you can say the word, and the student will identify it on the card and mark it off. Promise rewards when they complete a bingo pattern or black out the whole card.

  • Sight word fly swat – Again, you can make your own sight word fly cards or get them online. Lay the words down on the table, and say a word. The student has to spot the word as quickly as possible and use the fly swat. This simple activity can expend some of their excess energy, and the repetition will help with their mastery.

  • Sight word apps – If you want to combine vocabulary lessons with your child’s screen time, there are many excellent sight word apps that can help them remain engaged as they learn. There are even games that harness augmented reality (AR) for maximum fun. The wide variety of exercises gamify learning, so your child will never get bored! 


Sight words are the wide foundation that beginning readers need to build before moving up the vocabulary ladder. There are many ways to teach children sight words in a formal and informal setting. A good balance of the two can ensure maximum engagement and a good learning experience.

If you’re looking for the best sight word apps for your children, Kids Plenty is here for you. The Kids Plenty mobile app integrates digital technology with educational techniques for easier learning experiences. We provide fun and exciting ways to keep children amped about learning. Check out our app today!