How to leverage digital technology to support sight words learning in young children

Sight words are most commonly used words found in reading materials that preschoolers are encouraged to recognize automatically to aide them in early literacy and reading development. Experts believe that having a “bank of sight words” will help new readers improve their reading comprehension by freeing up their attention to focus on more difficult and less frequently read words. The sight words normally used and taught in kindergartens are typically based on either Dolch’s Basic Words or Fry’s Instant Words.

There are many techniques and styles of teaching sight words. Early educators and parents use flashcards, word walls, games, writing and tracing exercises to name a few. Here are three simple technology-based steps parents can do with their preschool children to kick off their first sight word learning routine.

Step One: Learning in Context through Music

A Stanford and MIT based research has shown that “children learn words best when they are used in a context that is coherent and distinctive”. Although repetition is important, they argue that words learned in distinctive ways and during specific routines tend to be learned and used by the child faster than those that were merely said more frequently.

Have your little one watch and learn from the 29 individually crafted sight word music videos by Have Fun Teaching. Every video focuses on one sight word and has its own unique catchy beat with simple lyrics and animation illustrating typical and contextual use of the sight word. This collection of Youtube videos is a fun and fuss free way to weave in a technology based activity into your little one’s sight word learning routine.

Step Two: Practice and Repetition by Typing

Repetition is a critical element to early brain development and learning. Experts believe that repetition helps to strengthen neural connections in the brain and allows young children to better master and retain knowledge. However, repetition of a learning objective should not be restricted to a single activity and is known to be more effective if carried out through multi-sensory and spaced repetition of different experiences.

Typing sight words on the keyboard is another way to widen the learning experience and provide kids with an additional benefit of exposure to keyboard typing, a much needed skill of the future classroom. Parents can prepare simple templates in Google Docs to allow their kids to practice typing sight words at home.

Step Three: Test knowledge by Gaming

Testing and the use of pop quizzes can be an important aide in the learning process. Experts argue that the mental retrieval of information after learning it helps in the retention of knowledge. It is also a good way for parents, teachers and even young children to better understand knowledge gaps.

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The online game, Sight Words Hopper from is a free and fun way to test your preschooler’s retention of sight words. The goal of the game is to help the character jump in the right muddy puddle which is labelled with a sight word. Your kid will need to wait to listen to the audio cue and select the corresponding sight word or puddle.

We at Tapkins are building a word learning by typing mobile app for preschoolers which will be launched in fall 2017. We believe it is a good tool for practice and reinforcements of words including sight words. Click here to register your interest and we’ll keep you updated.

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