Trying to make sight words exciting and memorable while teaching virtually is a challenge! I’ve been trying to come up with multiple ways to engage students while teaching new sight words and reviewing past sight words.
Spin a Sight Word Activity
One of the activities I love to use is “spin a sight word” using the Magnetic Dry Erase Spinner Wheel from Really Good Stuff. It’s magnetic (amazing!) and dry-erase compatible (also amazing!). I write one sight word on each color section and hang it on my magnetic dry erase board. Students can see both the spinner and me while we do this activity.
I spin the spinner and have students take turns telling me what the word is. I love being able to include ALL the students during our group lessons. This can be difficult while teaching online, because as many of you know, it’s chaos when everyone unmutes. You hear an endless amount of background noise from siblings, parent conversations, televisions, etc.
Using Hand Gestures to Virtually Teach Sight Words
One way I have been able to include all students is with hand gestures. Each week when we learn our new sight word list, we come up with a motion for each word. Not only is this helpful when teaching virtually, it’s also helpful for in-person instruction since students can activate another learning modality. Not only are students seeing and hearing the sight word, but now they can learn kinesthetically, too.
For example, if the word is “hear,” we see the word, say the word, and put our hand to our ear to show the motion for hear. While using the spinner, sometimes I tell students to make the motion for the sight word that the spinner landed on. This way I can quickly scan the screen to see which students are remembering which motion goes with which sight word.
“Whispering” Into the Camera to Teach Sight Words
I have also had students “whisper” the work into their cameras while leaving their microphones muted. This way I can read their lips and since I know they only have a handful of words to choose from, I can usually figure out what they are trying to say.
Virtual learning has its curve balls, and engaging students can be one of them! Finding ways to make learning fun and meaningful to all students is important and I hope this quick and easy idea helps another virtual teacher out there!
By Erin Kassly
Erin Kassly is a first-grade teacher in Illinois. She is also the CEO of Erin’s Ink, a teacher resource and accessory company. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Illinois State University. Her education experience includes nine years in first grade, two years in Kindergarten and one year in fifth grade. She creates teacher resources for TPT and designs accessories for teachers including bracelets, earrings and stickers.