Learning to Read and Write Tricky Words for School Without Tears!!

So when our children start school, inevitably we expect to see them learning to read and write.  No matter what stage they are at when starting school, it is a monumental challenge that they are faced with.  Most schools encourage parents, from the outset, to work with their children at home supporting what they are doing in school.  Problem is, only being given a list of words for your child to learn (whether reading or spelling) can leave many, many parents scratching their heads about where to start! This post aims to help give you some ideas about HOW to do this without a battle/tantrum/tears and without putting our children off at the very beginning of their learning journey at school!!  Hope you find it useful…

Just to make sure we are on the same page, these games are for those high frequency words that children need to look at and just know; without sounding out or any of that business. They just need to know them by sight.  They also tend not to follow the basic phonetic rules and are therefore also called, “tricky words.” To clarify, these words may be referred to as, “sight words,” “tricky words,” “high frequency words,” or “key words.” They all mean the same thing!!

So here they are… some of the games/activities J and I have played in order for him to learn to read and spell the words his teacher sends home…

Game Number 1: Very simply, give your child a silly noise to make. Lay the words they are learning to read out on a flat surface. Then the adult says one of the words and the child splats the word, tapping it with their hand and making their funny noise. Once complete, swap roles. Your child reads the word and Mummy/ Daddy splats the words making a funny noise.  J loves this especially if Mummy makes a ‘farting noise’ as J so often stipulates!!!


Game number 2: Simply write half of the words your child is learning or has already learned on a piece of card and the other half of the words on a second piece of card. Draw a balloon around each word and link the balloons to a basket.  You will need a box of counters and a box of objects (I used stones) with each of the words written on. The idea of this game is basically bingo.  You and your child take it in turns to take a stone out of the box and read the word aloud.  If either of you has that word on your bingo board, you cover it with a counter.  The first to cover all their balloons takes off into the air in their hot air balloon! This is great for rehearsing that skill of recognising the words by sight.


Game Number 3: For this game I use a plastic tray that is used for crafts or a sorting tray with clearly defined sections.  Using the words J is learning or knows alongside words he can sound out, I make silly/funny sentences for J to read.  It is really simple and they don’t even have to make perfect sense as that makes J giggle more.  The point is, J loves being able to read a long sentence and he is rehearsing his sight vocabulary.


Game Number 4: Using my beloved salt dough recipe, I made some coins for J to use to help him with the spelling element of learning the words he has sent home.  I simply made some little coin shapes, assigned a letter from each of his key words to them and gave them to J to play with.  I gave him a clue that they were his school words and he got his flash cards out to help him order the letters correctly. He loves it and they became part of his treasure box.



Game Number 5: Simply providing J with  tray of salt and giving him a cotton bud was all it needed to get J writing in the tray. To encourage him, I left the word ‘said’ written in it to focus him. Easy!



Game Number 6: J loves writing on different surfaces so I provided him with a whiteboard and white board pen,a box with jewels in and a little draw string bag with ‘words I know’ written on. The jewels each had one of J’s key words on! How he played with this was up to him.  He could read, write, spell however he wanted!



Game Number 7: I bought some very cheap wooden pegs and write a letter at the top of each. Each letter obviously matched up with the words he was learning. The words were pinned in the correct order to a whiteboard and left for J to find.  When he did, he was very excited.  I then removed a word, one by one and silly Mummy put them on another whiteboard in the wrong order.  J then had to order them correctly. This gave him chance to practise the correct order of the letters, read the word once formed, a fine motor work out using the pegs and then he had a go at writing the words! We LOVE this game!


Game Number 8This actually relates to the phonemes J brings home to learn! Using the sorting tray mentioned above, we make words using the phonemes he knows and is learning. The brilliant part is that the digraphs (two letter making one sound) go in one section of the tray, thus confirming the fact that it only makes ONE sound! My kind of happiness!! Ha! 



There are plenty more ways to make learning lists of words more interesting and I hope to write another list about them soon! In the meantime, hopefully this will keep you busy and more importantly your little ones HAPPY in their learning!!!









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