Sight Word Fun in the Sun

Hi Everyone! I hope you are enjoying your summer so far. I am loving every minute of it. I looooove summer time. This summer I've been mostly keeping busy with my two boys, but I've also been balancing with a little work. Summer is such a great opportunity to catch up on things that I wanted to do during the school year, but never had time to do. That list just keeps growing and growing until summer, when I chip away at it a little. Don't worry though, I'm not stressing myself out at all. :) Ha! I'm definitely in vacation-every-day mode. I often ask myself what day it is. Awww, summertime.

That leads into my topic for today:

Specifically, ways to trick your kids into practicing sight words outside so you can still enjoy the beautiful sunshine. ;) These are meant to be quick activities to keep those brains from getting cobwebs. They can be used for review for our beginning readers (so they don't lose everything that they started to gain in kindergarten,) or a mixture of new and review words to build skills over the summer.

1. Make a "sand box."

Playing in sand is classic. I was hesitant last summer because sand = big mess. I cracked under the pressure of course. My friend found an idea on Pinterest that seemed way better than a sand box. So I dusted off one of our clear plastic shallow bins and filled it with big $3 sand bags. My kids played with that sand all summer.  In school, I always used the pretty color sand on a tray to practice sight words. This picture shows the pretty sand in a  water table, but it's even better to put sand in the "sand box" (a.k.a. long, shallow clear plastic bin.)

This only has to take a few minutes. I think of a word that stumped Shawn during reading the night before. I write the word, read it, and have Shawn repeat it and trace it with his fingers. Then I mess up the sand and have him write it, saying the word again. It helps to have him say the word and the letters as he traces. Wait a few minutes, let him play and write that same word again. "Remember this word?" Trace it, say it, have him erase and write it again." See? Do that a few more times and you've given your child opportunities to add that word into his memory. He might even associate it with the fun of the sand box and remember it better. Who knows!

2. Bean Bag Toss

We are big time Cornhole lovers in my family. This isn't quite Cornhole, but it involves beanbags and taking aim at something, so we'll take it. :) Have your child read the word that the beanbag lands on. Throw a few beanbags per "round." Then have your child read the word again when he goes to pick them up. 

There was one word that kept stumping Shawn. So, we adjusted the rules. We were trying to get that word to "win." The word with the most beanbags on it after throwing 6 beanbags was the winner. We were trying to get "were" to win since that was our tricky word. He actually aimed at that word and tried to get it there. That made him really concentrate on the word and gave him more opportunities to read it. 

3. Word Hunts:

Having a Word Hunt is always a good time: In a classroom, in a house, and especially outside. I've blogged before about various word hunts, but it hadn't occurred to me to do it outside. Kids love searching for things outside and why not spice it up with a few sight words? You can put the words on index cards and hide them in trees, under rocks, and by bushes. Just make you sure that when they find the words, they read them to you. If they can't read them, you read it for them, then hide the word again.

4. Chalk it up:

Confession time. I actually can't stand the feel of chalk on my fingers. It makes me shiver. It's a good thing I'm a teacher in the age of white boards because I don't know if I could've made it with a chalkboard. I have a problem, I know. Buuuut, I still love chalk for the kids. :) We always have ample chalk at my house. My kids love to draw and write with chalk. Plus who doesn't love some sidewalk art? Writing sight words in chalk is way more exciting than writing them with pencil, right?

5. Soak a Sight Word:

Ah, the super soakers. We have already made good use of ours this summer. Yes, it's definitely more fun to soak your mom and dad, but maybe they can settle for soaking a sight word sometimes? You could really jazz it up and "time" them. How fast can you find and soak the word could? This was totally Shawn-inspired. I was writing letters in chalk for his little brother when he comes over with the soaker and calls out the letter as he sprays it. Then he did a few more. Owen went nuts (in a good way) and wanted me to write more letters so he could spray them.  Did I mention that I like to trick my kids into learning sometimes? :) Mission accomplished.

6. Rock Tic-Tac-Toe

Sight Word Tic-tac-Toe is always fun in the classroom, so I wanted to find a way to take it outside this summer. It's a little different than the classroom version of sight word tic-tac-toe in that you are taking off the rocks once the words are called. (Notice how the rocks don't need to be pretty at all. Just your run-of-the-mill gray rocks here.)

BONUS: You can use these same rocks to make a "hide-and-seek" game. Hide the rocks in the grass and have your child search for them OR hide them in your sand box. Cover the rocks with sand and have your kids "dig them out."

7. Sight Word Frisbee

Get some sturdy paper plates for this one. They don't glide as well as a real frisbee, so you could get a frisbee at the Dollar Store and tape an index card to it (with a sight word on the index card.) Shawn is not a fan of the real frisbee because he's afraid of getting hit in the face, so the paper plate is preferable. He actually thinks it's funny that the paper plate frisbee never goes in the direction I had hoped.

8. Word Find

Okay so, technically, this might not sound like an outdoor activity. However, I did use this activity for real, outside, in the summertime. a lot. We love going out to eat in the summertime. Something about eating outside is so much more appealing when the cooking is done for you. I am personally against getting out the iPad or iPhone for my kids while waiting for a meal at a restaurant. Granted, it is more of a challenge and I'm sure that makes my kids more annoying or loud than the kids quietly playing on their iPads. But alas, I stick to my guns on that one. I think waiting is an important skill for them to develop. But that's a whole other blog post! Instead of the iPad, my kids need to make do with the coloring sheets that are given to them. Sometimes while we wait for our meals, I would create a little sight word find on a napkin or on the back of the kid's menu (the ones that are just paper of course.) It was simple, fast, and helped time go by. I did this a lot with Shawn last summer when he was first learning sight words. It was perfect because he knew he had to wait anyway. He was stuck sitting at the table and this made the time go by. Win, win. Or as Michael Scott would say, "Win, win, win." (Office, anyone?)

9. Sight Word Memory and Go Fish:

Okay, so these aren't really outside games technically either. But if there is no wind, they could be! Everything is better when you try it outside. Remember Jen Jones' post last week about summer reading? It's the same idea. Throw a blanket out, get some snacks, and sit in the shade. You have now created a great ambiance for your sight word games. A little break from running around in the sun. :) Here, we are using a little foldable table on our front porch, taking a break from the sun.

Well, there you have it! I hope some of these ideas work for you, too. :)

If you want a printable version of these ideas, click on the picture below:

UPDATE: This is the packet I provide for the families at my school (this is only slightly different than the one above in that it is not specifically for summertime.)

I printed these two pages front and back to send home:

along with this explanation page:

I posted the entire packet on our school website so parents could download as needed.