Friday, August 22, 2008

The post where we both learn something

Did you even know there was such a thing as "sight words"?

I didn't.

Despite the fact that my mother was a kindergarten teacher for 40 years, I had never even heard the term.

For my fellow cave dwellers, sight words - of, and, he and you, for example- are words that don't follow basic decoding rules and must be memorized by new readers. Kids who learn early to memorize these words - also called instant, star and high frequency words - find learning to read much less frustrating.

I only learned of this whole concept when the Parent Bloggers Network offered me a chance to review a DVD designed to help teach kids how to memorize sight words. Rob and I have been reading to Graham on a regular basis since he was a baby but I've never really considered the logistics involved in him learning to read for himself, so I thought perhaps it might be a good idea to give it a shot.

Graham and I tested out Meet the Sight Words 1, the first in a series of three DVDs which feature the words being read over and over while morphing from big block letters into animated characters. For example, he becomes a castle from which knights and horses ride and balloons (always a favorite around here) are released.

The first time I put on the DVD, as much as I tried to cheer lead, Graham was not engaged at all. The second time, after bribing him to stay put with some popcorn, he actually sat through nearly half an hour of it and was engrossed enough that I was able to slip into the bathroom.

"What are you watching?' I asked him upon my return.

"It's and mommy," he cried in reply. "Look mommy, it's and."

And is a start.

Later that night I pointed out and in one his bedtime stories. He didn't recognize the word right away, but once I prompted him he remembered it.

And that is a start.

I'm definitely going to throw on the Meet the Sight Words 1 DVD again but I think I'll wait for a month or so. The series is recommended for ages 15 months to six years so, at not yet three, Graham's still at the young end of the age range.

I don't intend to push anything on him, but I think the repetition and the animated characters will help him memorize his sight words and I now realize this is an important step in learning to read.

Even though I didn't know there was such a thing as sight words just a month ago.


Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Sight words are all the rage in Preschool and Kindergarten in the USA now. My Kindergartener recognized and could repeat at least 40 sight words after a few months of school. I am mixed on it, but if their brains are ready to process it, why not, I guess.


Lisa said...

As an ex-kindergarten teacher, I loved making games up with sight words. We'd play sight word bingo, a game called "bang" where they had to read all of the words they could, but when the "bang" card came up they had to give them back (hard to explain - but they loved it) and always had a sight word bean stalk. When they could read all of the words on the beanstalk they could add their name - such pride! I made all of the games with index cards & know a teacher's budget!

Glad Graham liked the DVD. Learning is fun!

Amy said...

Shark is working on sight words (he's in 1st grade now) and we have flash cards (we're so old school - snort).

This would be something to consider though. Thanks for reviewing it!

Amy said...

Shark is working on sight words (he's in 1st grade now) and we have flash cards (we're so old school - snort).

This would be something to consider though. Thanks for reviewing it!

Eternal Sunshine said...

Ah - sight words. My now first grader had a LOT of sight words last year, and this year my youngest will be learning them.

I wish I had known about this DVD a year or two ago. Once he started Kindergarten, Monkey had very few problems identifying them, and only needed a little prompting to recognize them in a book or story at first... The DVD would have been great for summer watching.

imbeingheldhostage said...

It's so cool you're reviewing this and blogging about it. Thanks!

Shan said...

My daughter has learned sight words for the past two years in her j/k and s/k class. Her teacher calls them popcorn words because they pop up all the time. Every time they found one they would have to "butter it" aka colour it yellow. They also made a whole collection of sight word books for the kids to read at home. My daughter is always excited to point out a popcorn word.

Bloggy Mama said...

I did know about sight words, I am a teacher. A video, eh? Sounds interesting! I hope that you find it useful and that Graham enjoys it.

Kelli @ writing the waves said...

Wow! 15 months? Talk about early literacy skills...haha :)

I personally would do what you are doing and wait a little bit before watching it again. He has plenty of time!

I'd be interested to see this DVD though...might be something I could use with my younger students when I go back to teaching.

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