Sight words are words that children learn only by sight -- with flash cards, by memorizing them or words they learn from context, because they cannot be sounded out. "Cat" and "dog" are not sight words but "a", "be", "black", "eat", "good", "pretty", "ran", "saw" and "to" are. Children begin learning sight words as early as preschool and Kindergarten. By the end of Kindergarten, pupils should be proficient in recognizing and reading 35 to 40 sight words -- a factor considered crucial to a child's reading success. As a parent, you can help your child learn these important words.
Flash cards are a simple but effective way for kids to learn sight words. Most kids enjoy playing "school" at home. You can work with your child individually or with others and show letters to each other, or an adult can use the cards to quiz their child. To make flash cards at home, you only need index cards and a marker. Sites such as "Apples 4 The Teacher" (link in References) offer free printable sight-word cards.
Sight-word Bingo is a fun way to help a 5-year-old learn sight words. As a parent, you can make the cards or you can download them. Bingo is more fun if you invite others to join your little boy. Invite your neighbor and her little girl, and make it a play (and learning) date that's fun for everybody. Much like traditional Bingo, if a player has a card that includes the sight word, he places a bingo chip on top of that word. The object is to fill up an entire row in any direction. To make the game longer, adults can require that the entire card be filled. Of course, the winner should get a nice prize. A healthy treat, stickers or fun pencil is enough to motivate kids this age.
Hands-on activities are favorites of 5-year-olds, because they make learning fun. After all, what youngster wants to listen to a teacher deliver a lecture on the benefits of learning sight words? You remember those days, too. Magnetic letters on the refrigerator are fun for kids as they learn to spell and recognize sight words. You can cut sight words out of cereal boxes or magazines and glue them to construction paper.
Many online games help children recognize and remember sight words. Readquarium (link in References) has several games, including interactive sight- word concentration and sight-word hangman. Netrover (link in References) has more than 100 games that help kids reinforce knowledge -- and increase their sight-word vocabulary. They can choose from puzzles and word finds, among several other categories.