Sight Word Driving: An Active Reading Game
The ability to decode words you don’t know is an essential part of reading. That’s why children need a basic understanding of phonics. But you can’t sound out every word, and you want to get to the point where you can read fluently without stopping to sound them out, so your child must also learn to read sight words.
Practicing sight words with flashcards gets boring for younger students. So do those readers that focus only on sight words and don’t really have a plot.
That doesn’t mean you should never use those teaching strategies. There’s definitely a place for them.
But, you also need a fun activity that gets your kids active as they read. Combining reading with movement really helps cement the words in your child’s brain. That’s why they can learn songs with motions so quickly – the brain thrives when multiple senses are being used.
Here’s an active sight word reading game that I first played with a second-grade student I was tutoring. I’ve since played it with each of my early readers, and everyone loves it.
So, gather your early reader and give this game a try.
Sight Word Driving
- 10 index cards
- A marker
- A wheeled vehicle (toy car, fire truck, ride on scooter, etc. Pick something that fits easily in the space you have available, so it can be maneuvered.)
- A pen & paper
On each index card, write one of the sight words your child is currently learning. Here’s a link to a basic sight word list, if you need ideas. They’re broken down by grade level, so pick something that’s age appropriate for your child.
Write the words in large letters, so it’s easy to read from a distance, but don’t use all capital letters. Write the words in lowercase since that’s how your kids will usually see them in books and on worksheets.
As you write each word, make a list on your paper, so you remember what’s on each card.
Have Your Child Leave the Room
When the cards are ready, ask your child to wait quietly in another area. You don’t want them peeking!
Now it’s time for you to spread the cards out, word side up, on the floor. Leave plenty of space between each one as you lay them down in random order.
Bring Out the Vehicle
Call your child back in and hand him the toy vehicle. Then, pick up your list of words.
Ask your child to drive the vehicle around the room and search for one of the words. Once he finds it, have him bring it back to you.
Then, send him off, driving, to look for another word.
Continue until your child locates and recovers all ten words. Ask your child to read the stack of words once more.
Easy to Add Words
With inexpensive index cards as the base of this game, it’s simple to change the words as your child works on new ones. Save the older ones, though, and throw them back in for practice to help your child remember them. This game is simple, but it’s a fun way to work some sight word practice into your homeschool day.
Change the Game
Even though it’s a game, it can get boring if it always stays the same. Thankfully, this game is easy to switch up.
- Place the words up high and have your child use a helicopter to find them
- Ask your child to build a road with the index cards and drive along the cards, reading each one as s/he goes
- Use a dump truck with a bed, and have your child collect all the words at once and then dump them out and read them
- Have your child drive quickly to one word. Or slowly. Then drive backwards to the next. Change up the rate and direction. This one builds listening skills, too!
What Active Reading Games Do You Play?
If you play active reading games with your children, tell us about them in the comments. It’s a fun way to make reading more engaging for kids!
Lisa Tanner is a homeschooling mom of eight. She loves writing about balancing diapers and deadlines, and ways to make learning fun.