Which are the best sight word activities to boost fluency? Is it the traditional word wall, a portable word wall, a phonics notebook, a word wallet or a personal word wall? Let’s take a closer look at all our options with a Word Detective theme!
If you like the idea of your students collecting words, you will adore the Word Detective Phonics Notebook. This resource is organized by spelling patterns/phonemes. It’s a great way to have your students hunt for words within a text (self-selected or with the use of decodable readers) that contain a specific spelling pattern such as /oo/ or /fr/ as seen in the photo below.
A Phonics Notebook is a great way to help your “Word Detectives” take more ownership of the words if they are “collecting them” in a personal notebook. Who doesn’t like to “collect” words? A great read aloud to introduce this notebook is The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds.
When I differentiate my Word Study/Phonics instruction I prefer to use the decodable readers that I have collected from the series/anthologies that my school district has provided us with to help my Word Detectives locate and identify a specific spelling pattern we are working on and disguise Read to Self as Word Study.
And… if you want your students to learn from each other, you must read this post about Share Time… You will see how differentiated groups help YOU reinforce and front load your teaching. Out of the mouth’s of babes. Peer teaching is a win-win!
Sight Word Wallet
The sight word wallet is a great way to help your students take responsibility for learning new words independently. I have my students keep their word wallet in their Word Detective Kit during independent reading. This provides them the opportunity to select their own words to study from their self-selected books.
The first pocket holds blank cards (I photo-copied them on green so that they resemble dollar bills). Once they decide on a word that they want to “decode” they write it down and place it in the Mystery Words pocket so they can practice it until they are fluent. Once they know this word by heart, they place it in the Case Closed pocket to review once weekly.
The kids love taking ownership and self-selecting their sight words with this strategy!
Word Detective Sight Word Pocket Notebook
If you love the idea of having your students collect their own words but don’t want to assemble a Word Wallet, you can provide them with a sight word pocket notebook to keep alongside them in their book boxes. They can collect new words and record them as they read. This is also a great way to help them collect words with specific spelling patterns as well.
Send your Word Detectives on a hunt to locate words with phonemes that you have chose. For example, you may tell the children to hunt for words with /ir/ or any other pattern of your choosing. The kids love it, especially if you provide them with a hand lens!
A Portable Sight Word Wall
A portable word wall has many benefits. First of all, it takes up less space than the traditional word wall. I have our set hanging below a cupboard in our classroom using command hooks so that the children can reach them easily whenever they are hunting for a word they need during Writer’s Workshop.
The hanging “books” are also very useful during guided reading and word study groups. They can be used as flashcards or during Word Work centers. The children can take a ring from the wall, rainbow write, or even hunt for spelling patterns!
Traditional Sight Word Wall
The traditional word wall is a great opportunity to make sight words available to all your students throughout the day even if just at a glance. The ABC Word Wall is the most effective when teaching whole group phonics. I highly recommend having one so that you can refer to it often throughout the day during your Phonics, Writer’s and Reader’s Workshops. Learn more about a Phonics Word wall HERE.
Tip: Remember to save wall space and take down the words when most of your students are secure with each word. But that is not always the case. When you have struggling readers, that is when a personal word wall comes in handy…
Personal Word Wall
A personal word wall is one where the students can collect their own words as they read independently or during your small group instruction. This is a great way to differentiate your instruction.
During your guided reading groups, have your students add words to their personal word wall folder as you introduce key words that are represented in the text. Or as you present sight words during whole group instruction, your students may add them to this collection as they are taught.
Personally, I prefer to use the Traditional Word Wall for whole group instruction and use the personal word wall with my differentiated guided reading groups.
Personal word walls are great to keep in their Writing Folders or in their Reader’s Workshop book boxes. They are not only personal, but the children are able to travel with them throughout the room when they visit centers or for use during your Phonics Lessons.
Hopefully you have found these tips helpful in building sight word fluency in your students. If you love the Word Detective theme as much as we do, you can find many other resources including phonics and reading goals, word detective badges and more by clicking below: