When young readers gain confidence with sight words it gives them a tremendous boost. The trick, of course, is getting them to practice without making them feel like they’re working.
Making it FUN is the key here!
Learning, and being able to remember the words later on, is all about being fully engaged in the moment.
This game is based on the old ‘Sink the Ship’ game, where you have to find the opponent’s ‘ships’ to sink them. I’ve changed it from a sea battle to a Treasure Hunt and instead of using coordinates to find the chosen square I have individually numbered all the squares. This is for 3 reasons:
- Young children can find the concept of coordinates quite difficult which can distract rather than add to the game.
- It generally takes longer to find coordinates than a number which can take a child’s focus off the sight words so that they’re thinking more about the actual game board than the words.
- Research has shown that dealing with the numbers in this format adds a side benefit of consolidating number sense.
The Set Up
- Download your free copy of Battling for Sight Word Treasures.
- Print off the Find the Treasure game board – each child will need one copy. To make them re-usable laminate them or put them in plastic sheet protectors. They need to be folded in half so that the Find the Treasure section sits flat on the table and the My Treasure section points up in the air. (Scroll down to see how Kathleen at KidpeopleClassroom.com adapted this in her classroom to make it easier to use).
- Print off the Treasure Coins. There are 16 coins on the page so check how many you’ll need before printing. For eg, if each child is focusing on 5 sight words they’ll need 5 coins each.
The Treasure Coins
These can be managed a couple of different ways.
- You can print off enough to write down every sight word you intend to teach then each time the children play they can choose coins from the Treasure Chest to focus on. Just cover a small container with brown and gold paper and it can become the Treasure Chest.
- You can laminate blank coins and keep (for example) 10-14 coins with each pair of Find the Treasure game boards to write their chosen words on with dry erase markers. Then when they’ve finished playing they can simply wipe the coins clean again so they’re ready for next time. Storing 2 game boards and the coins in a ziploc bag will keep them together nicely.
- Children can keep their own store of coins, gradually increasing the number as they work through specific sight words.
Engaging in the Battle for Sight Word Treasures
- Each child chooses the sight words they want to use in the game. I suggest each pair agree upon how many there will be.
- They either find those sight word coins or write their chosen words on their coins making sure their partner doesn’t see and place them face down on the table, perhaps hiding them under the game board.
- They write their chosen words on their My Treasure grid, again keeping it secret.
- Sitting facing each other so they can’t see each other’s game board they take it in turns to call out a number. If the space is empty they say ‘there’s no treasure there’ or they could say ‘aaarhh…no’ like a pirate. The other child then crosses out that space so they remember it’s blank. If there is a letter there they need to say the letter so their partner can write it in the correct space.
- When a whole word is discovered on their Find the Treasure grid they need to say the word and then be given that Treasure Coin for the word they’ve found. The children should decide whether each whole word needs to be discovered completely by saying each number, or whether they can take a guess once they’ve got some clues. For eg, if they’ve uncovered ‘ere’ they may be able to guess ‘here.’ To stop them guessing everything too quickly they could forfeit a turn or lose the chance of winning that coin altogether if they guess incorrectly. After all, ‘here’ could have been ‘there.’
- The winner is the one who collects all their partner’s Treasure Coins first.
A Simpler Way to Set Up
Kathleen from KidpeopleClassroom.com ran the game boards onto different coloured papers, laminated them and attached them together using paper clips. This not only made them more solid, it helped prevent accidental cheating! They didn’t use the coins but just counted up the words instead. Pop over to her post to see the details and read how much her kids enjoyed playing it, how they quickly started playing independently and how she adapted it for different learning levels. Thanks, Kathleen!
A note with numbers: if your kids are still learning their numbers above ten it’s perfectly fine for them to say ‘3 and 2’ for 32 as it will help them understand tens and ones and how they fit together on a number line.
Too many squares?: If you want a smaller grid so kids can focus on fewer words just have them cover up part of the grid. For eg, cover up the right half and only have the left half of the grid exposed, or cover the top 2 rows so the numbers only go to 30.
Directions: You might like to make a rule about what directions the words can travel
- left to right
- top to bottom
- diagonally down
- running backwards right to left or from the bottom up
Sight Words: If you’re not sure about sight words skip over to This Reading Mama. I love this article she wrote talking about phonics and sight words.
Battle for The Alphabet?
Danielle from Mom Inspired Life has created a similar game focused on learning the alphabet. So if your little one loves Battle Games pop over there and pick up another one! This way your child can start with the alphabet, then progress to 3-letter words before taking on the sight word challenge in this post. Awesome!
Free Online Sight Word Games
Sightwords is a great place to find sight word games and flashcards as well as teaching ideas.
Do you have a favourite blog post or Pinterest board that’s focused on sight words? If so, please link to it in the comments!
I hope you can make use of this game and that your kids have a great time playing it!
I wish you happy teaching and learning.