I made these 44 FREE sight word playdough mats for YOU, because I'm so tired of seeing kids being sent home with sight word flashcards. BORING!
I get that things need to be simple, or we won't do them as parents, so I've create completely free hands-on playdough mats for your young reader to use. They're not individual pdfs either, just one big, easy packet to start using instantly.
Included in the packet are 44 words from Fry's first 100 sight words list.
When I taught kindergarten would introduce 1-2 sight words a week and these are the words that I taught first! Teachers choose sight words at their own discretion, and there is no one "right" list for kindergarten. These are also the words I am teaching my daughter first.
Why are these playdough mats so effective at teaching sight words? Well, the key to learning sight words is exposure. Since many sight words don't sound how they're spelled, kids must recognize them by sight.
Yes, that's why they're called sight words. Some teachers call them different things: tricky words, rainbow words, rule breakers, etc. In order to memorize these strange yet vital words, kids need to interact with them many times.
Each sight word playdough mat has 4 ways to interact with the word, and kids will see the sight word they're working on 6+ times during the activity.
First, kids will roll out their playdough into long "snake" pieces, then twist and shape them into the letters that form the sight words. This sensory way to learn, really benefits all kids, especially young children who are often tactile learners (those who learn by touching).
Besides being a great sensory invitation to play, did you know that playing with playdough majorly builds up the small muscles in the hands needed for fine motor skills. I tell you all about why those are so important in this post about fine motor development!
Next kids will read the sight words in the left bottom corner and splat them with playdough.
Make 3 small playdough balls, and have kids smush the ball with their fingers on top of the sight word on the mat! Kids won't need to know how to read all the sight words in this section, only to find the one they're working on. However, seeing all the sight words they've previously worked on, only helps cement their memorization.
The final section has a tracing component, and a writing component. If working with 4 year olds, they can just trace the sight word with their finger. When working with older kids in kindergarten and first grade, they can trace the word with their finger or a dry erase marker. If they're ready to write independently, the final line includes a space to try that, the most difficult step.
In sight word playdough mats, kids are building the word through sensory play, scanning and finding the word with reading skills, tracing the word, and finally writing it. With so many different kinds of interactions, these sight words have a much higher chance of being memorized than with boring, old flashcards!