Here is an idea of a sight word game that I have been playing with my 2.5 year old that she absolutely loves. She will jump up and down, run across the room and get really excited about it. This is what learning to read should be like – fun. But if your child is like most children, just showing them sight word flash cards and reading them out is not going to get them as excited. With my first daughter, I tried using flashcards but she would literally run away.

After 5 years of parenting, I am smarter and more aware of how children learn – through fun and games. Very often, you just need to tweak the way you do an activity a little bit to completely change the results. In this example, I used the Peter and Jane 100 first words sight word set by Ladybird Publishers, but this would also work well with Flashkids Sight Words, for example.

Choose 3 easy sight words to begin with (such as “go”, “up” and “I”). Depending on the progress and memory of your child, you might be able to expand this to 6 or 9 cards very quickly. But start with a few to make sure they can handle it and experience success in this game, which is critical.

To start, I do briefly read out what each of these cards say. I will show “Look, this is “go”, it says “g” “o” – “go” ” (make sure you sound out the letters phonetically, don’t use the letter names). Then I put the three cards in front of her. For a motivated kid, it may be enough to just say “where is “go” ?” if she finds it, clap and cheer hooray so she can feel proud. This worked a few times, but it does not generate enough excitement to play this game often enough.

So next time you want to start the game and your child is distracted or playing something else, you could say “Where is “go”? I can’t find “go”!” Then I started a fun fake cry whining “I am so sad because I can’t find “go”. It’s not here. Can you help me?” Immediately, my daughter came running, found the flash card “go” and proudly handed it to me. She exclaimed “I helped mummy!”. I did this for all the cards and she was jumping up and down and laughing.

Of course, every child is different and you may need to tweak this game here and there, but make sure you try games along these lines to make learning the first 100 words fun!

For more early learning games, here is a recent article on how to teach preschoolers number bonds to 10.

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