The variety of words and terms in the English language are what make it such a rich and wonderful language. Written descriptions can be so vivid that they paint realistic pictures in our minds. Recognizing and understanding words and their meanings help to augment comprehension and broaden speaking vocabularies. Games that promote practice and repetition of the three types of words new readers must rehearse (sight, spelling, and vocabulary words) will strengthen the abilities of young learners to decode and understand the text they read.
Sight Words are the words that mathematically appear most frequently in children's literature and are the staples of all that we read. Some examples are: and, blue, we, he, she, can, play, run, help, etc. Words that do not follow any specific phonetic rule are also considered sight words. If it is impossible to "sound out" the word, then it is necessary to recognize it on sight. A few examples include: done, could, said, laugh, you, school, etc. It is essential that young learners be given practice with recognizing sight words. These will become the foundational building blocks for more difficult word recognition and reading. As children continue to learn additional sight words, they will then be ready to practice spelling words and finding patterns in word groups.
Spelling Words are those that build upon the sight word vocabulary and enable young learners to read and write more complex text. Consistent repetition of spelling word practice is a necessity for children to progress to the classic reader phase. Setting a goal of learning a list of spelling words each week is the primary way youngsters will expand their word base. Spelling lists are often included in educational manuals; however, a multitude of lists can be found online as well. When crafting a spelling list, include words that rhyme with some of the chosen spelling words, so your child begins to recognize rhyming patterns and chunking.
Vocabulary Words are identified as those taken from a particular story your learners are reading. These words will vary according to the text and will be chosen based on their contribution to the story's meaning. They are words that might not be heard in everyday conversations and that elevate one's communication skills. Vocabulary word practice focuses on word definitions, although recognition of spelling is also important. Practice of vocabulary words is more common with readers who have a solid mastery of sight words. Internalization of new vocabulary broadens your child's oral and written communication skills as well.
Sight, spelling, and vocabulary practice can be a monotonous and boring exercise. Try some of the following activities to make spelling practice fun: Repetition Fun, Snowball Fight, College Word of the Week, and Scrambled Eggs!