Monday, July 6, 2015

"Constructive" Word Work: Sight Word Towers

You know how all of my best ideas are really just things other teachers have told me to do? Well, here's another example of a great idea I did not develop myself. This one is simple, but oh-so-much-fun and highly effective for engaging students in sight word practice. (This is also another one of those great activities for your kinesthetic learners!)                                                                                 To prepare, you just need to purchase some small paper bathroom cups. They are inexpensive, and the standard box size at my grocery store includes 200 cups. Decide which words you want your students to practice (high frequency words, sight words, spelling words, etc.) and simply write one word on each card. 

You can do this as a small group activity, or you can have students work in partner groups. The idea is simple: you hold up a card with a word written on it. If the student correctly reads the word, he/she gets to keep the cup. As the students collect cups (by reading) they get to build their own tower of words. I tell them that they can build a tower of any design they want, but once they are finished they have to reread their entire tower for me. Oh how they love it! It's a great combination of student creativity, freedom, and discipline in repetitive word practice. How often do you have those elements working together?!?

The activity can be simple, and the tower can be small, like this one...
or the tower can be rather large, like this one...
Did you notice that some of the words are written in different colors? I have several different word sets (increasing in difficulty) for my students to learn. I write each set in a different color so we can easily reorganize them, even if we use multiple sets of cups within the same activity. 
My students really do have a great time with this activity, and it's a little different from a typical "word work" exercise. I love the fact that the activity requires so little prep work and cleanup, but yet it is something that keeps students consistently engaged every time we use it. They literally cheer when I pull out a bag of word cups.

Could you use this activity in your classroom?