Sight word games make learning sight words fun for kids in grades K-3. Whether you’re using Dolch sight words, Fry sight words, or Oxford sight words, interactive games can make grammar lessons more exciting.
Kindergarten Sight Word Games
Starting in kindergarten, students learn that sight words can’t be sounded out like many other words. To help kids memorize sight words and recognize basic sight words for Kindergarten, play games that involve repetition or recognition challenges.
Find the Missing Sight Word
Kids will use their brains and their energy in this simple sight word scavenger hunt. For small groups, you can make this a straight competition. For larger groups, you’ll want to create teams who can choose one player per round.
- Buy or create flash cards featuring sight words and other small words you might need to make sentences.
- Have all students close their eyes with their heads down.
- Use the flash cards to write out a simple sentence.
- Take one sight word card out of the sentence and hide it somewhere in the room. Hide several other words too.
- When kids open their eyes, they have to search the room for the right sight word card and put it back in the sentence.
Sight Word Pattern Copycat
Kids can work in pairs as they race to copy their partner’s sight word pattern.
- Pair kids in groups of two.
- Write 10 sight words on the board or an easel where everyone can see them.
- Ask each student to use at least two different words to create a pattern. Kids should write their pattern on a piece of paper. For example, they might write “any any ask any any ask.”
- Partners should get together and take turns.
- The first player should read their pattern out loud to their partner. The partner needs to write the pattern down.
- Players reverse roles.
- When both players feel like they have successfully copied each other’s patterns, they bring their papers to the teacher.
First Grade Sight Word Games
As first graders progress to learning more difficult sight words, games should focus on quick identification.
Sight Word Slap
If you know the classic card game Slap Jack, you can play Sight Word Slap. You’ll need a deck of cards that includes cards with individual sight words on them and cards with other words on them.
- Start with 2 to 4 players.
- Deal out the entire deck so everyone has about the same number of cards.
- Players should keep their cards in a face-down stack.
- On a turn, you flip your top card over in the middle of the playing area.
- If the flipped card is a sight word, you have to try to be the first to slap it.
- If the flipped card isn’t a sight word, you do nothing.
- If you are the first to slap a sight word, you keep the entire pile of played cards.
- If you are the first to slap a card that isn’t a sight word, you have to give each player one card.
- The player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.
Sight Word Hangman
Kids can play a classic game of Hangman in pairs or as a whole class. The challenge here is to use sight words to build a short sentence for the game.
- One child should create a short sentence using two or three sight words.
- This student should keep their sentence a secret, but write blank lines to represent each letter of each word.
- Opponent’s guess one letter at a time as they try to guess the secret sight word sentence.
- If an opponent guesses the sentence before they run out of turns, they win.
Second Grade Sight Word Games
Second graders have moved on to longer sight words and should be pretty good at spelling. Look for games that challenge what they think they know and are cumulative.
Name That Sight Word
Help kids practice the hardest sight words, those that are commonly misspelled. This fun game show style game asks students to guess what a sight word is based on a common misspelling of it. For example, you might see kids misspell “been” as “ben” or even “bin.”
- Separate your class into two equal teams.
- Set up a podium of some kind in the front of the room. It could be as simple as an empty desk. There should be some type of buzzer or bell on this podium.
- Teams each send up one player at a time.
- Write the misspelled version of a commonly misspelled sight word on the board.
- The first person to buzz in gets the first chance to write the correct spelling of that sight word.
- If this player gets it right, their team gets a point. If they get it wrong, their opponent gets a chance to answer and earn the point.
Sight Word Scavenger Hunt
This isn’t your typical scavenger hunt; it’s one that spans an entire day. Kids will need to look and listen for sight words throughout the day.
- Create a checklist that includes at least 10 sight words and make a copy for each student.
- Give kids a clipboard or notebook they can easily carry around for the day.
- Ask kids to look for signs that include the words on the list or listen for people to say the words.
- When a child spots a word, they’ll need to check it off their list and write down where they saw it or who said it.
- Students who spot the most sight words are the winners.
Third Grade Sight Word Games
Since third graders are becoming experts at reading and spelling, you’ll want to play more complex games that really challenge them.
Sight Word Spot It Game
You’ll need to create one or more pages in a document on the computer for this game. Each page should include a variety of sight words facing all different directions. You could also lay out flashcards instead.
- Lay the sight word pages in the center of your playing area so all players can see them.
- Call out a sight word.
- The player who points to the correct sight word on the pages first gets a point.
- The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
I Can Name That Sight Word Game
Students will take turns wagering how few clues they could use to guess one of your sight words in this fun game. You’ll need at least three players for this game because you need a host and two opponents for each round.
- The host should secretly choose one sight word and hold a flashcard for it or write it down.
- Flip a coin to see which player goes first.
- The first player makes a wager of how few clues they need to guess the sight word. It’s best to start high. She might say “I can name that sight word in 5 clues.”
- Players wager back and forth until one player challenges the other player to guess the sight word.
- The host will give the challenged player the number of clues they wagered. For example, if she said "I can name that sight word in 3 clues,” you’d give three clues.
- Clues should include things like the number of letters in the word, the first letter, the last letter, the middle letter, or a letter that is used twice.
- If the challenged player guesses correctly, they get a point. If not, their challenger gets a point.
- Complete about 10 rounds using a different sight word for each round.
- The player with the most points in the end wins.
Printable Sight Word Games
Many sight word games require sight word flashcards as the main material. Create your own sight word flashcards using this printable flashcard template and your current list of sight words. If you need help downloading the PDF, check out the troubleshooting guide.
Online Resources for Sight Word Games
Online resources typically provide games geared towards auditory and visual learners. Many educational kids websites offer games that include sight words.
Here are some great places to find sight word games online:
- ABCYa’s Sight Word Bingo uses basic Dolch sight words for an online Bingo game.
- You can find about 30 online sight word games at Education.com including classics like Sight Word Memory.
- Sight Word Smash includes both Dolch and Fry sight words, and has levels for Kindergarten, 1st grade, or “big words.”
Origin of the Concept of Sight Words
Dr. Edward William Dolch coined the term "sight words" in his 1948 book, Problems in Reading, which has since become a classic text for literacy teachers.
Dr. Dolch used a variety of common children’s books and created a list of 220 words that children must learn by sight during grades K-3. Since the original list was created, the sight words have been divided into lists for each grade level.
Benefits of Using Games to Learn Sight Words
Sight word games incorporate many techniques including flashcards, verbal cues, and manipulatives. By using various techniques, educators reach children through the three major learning styles.
Children also enjoy the variety found in sight word games. When classroom exercises seem like play, children respond well. Sight word games easily fit the bill through enjoyable, creative lessons.
Out of Sight Games
Adult reading students also benefit from learning sight words and playing sight word games. Invent your own sight word games to suit your audience by altering things like spelling word games to include sight words. How will you have fun with sight words?