It’s hard to believe that Lil’ Man has already completed his first month of kindergarten! Last week he received his first set of monthly sight words to practice at home: I, the, a, go, and is. We quickly went through all of his teacher’s recommended activities, and we determined that Lil’ Man should use his time to practice words he has not yet mastered.
Like any other child, Lil’ Man wants instant gratification. He is not a fan of challenges, and if he had his way, he would just keep practicing the words he already knows. I’m always looking for new ways to encourage his learning and, of course, make it fun. However, this doesn’t always mean I have to reinvent the wheel.
I have a couple of sight word mats that I printed and laminated from other blogs a few years ago, but to really motivate Lil’ Man to take on more challenging words, I decided to custom make a mat that would capture his attention. This led to the inception of my Feed the Rocky Sight Word Mat.
Our cat Rocky is my son’s best friend. I describe him to people as a “dog trapped in a cat’s body.” Wherever Lil’ Man is in the house, Rocky is sure to follow. Rocky also has a history of liking food and being a tad overweight (or as a friend of my once said, “voluptuous”). Thanks to his daily prednisone pill, Rocky is currently weighing in at a hefty 15.9 lbs. While my son may drag his feet when he is told to feed the cat in real life, he was ecstatic at the thought of feeding Rocky words.
Now, this mat isn’t just based off of Rocky’s fine physique and personality. I have to admit that Bad Kitty, Garfield, Pusheen, and Simon’s Cat were all on my mind as I quickly sketched this out for my son. If you are unfamiliar with the Bad Kitty books by Nick Bruel, then I recommend checking out Bad Kitty’s Tasty Treats: Slide and Find ABC. My son is a big fan of this book and loves that Bad Kitty is wanting to eat everything from an ape to a zebra (and even Uncle Murray). I thought it would be fun to apply this same silly logic to our sight word practice. Instead of feeding Rocky a zebra, we would start off feeding him the letter tiles of the words in his thought bubble.
I try to limit our practice to 5 minutes a day unless Lil’ Man asks to continue. He is in school all day, and I see no need to overwhelm him. I also love that this mat requires little prep and cleanup. You are more than welcome to use the mat I created. I recommend printing it out on card stock and laminating or placing it in a page protector.
You can also use these sight word cards to get started.
Whether you choose to use the Feed the Cat Sight Word Mat or even create your own, here are some ways to mix things up:
- Say the given sight word aloud with your child. Have them spell it aloud to you. Then have them spell it with letter tiles in the given space. (Repetition will help them retain the information.)
- Repeat the activity in #1, but instead of using letter tiles, have them practice their writing skills. Laminate your mat or place it in a sheet protector. Have your child use a dry erase marker to write out the word.
- Let your inner artist out. Instead of putting the sight word in the thought bubble, draw a picture of the word and have your child guess what it is. Once the child has guessed it, have them identify the individual letter sounds and write out the word. For example, we have had Rocky eat everything from a fish to a car.
- Don’t just focus on sight words. Have your child practice words with digraphs (e.g., ch and sh) and consonant blends (e.g., fr and bl).
- Read a favorite book and then practice words you found in the book. We love the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. The books are full of pre-primer sight words, and we like to let Lil’ Man choose who he gets to read as (he likes to be Piggie) while we read the other character’s lines.
What do you do to make learning sight words fun for your child? Share in the comments below. Happy learning and thanks for stopping by!