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  • Writer's pictureVicki Manning

Magic sight words literacy activity

Also known as tricky words, irregular words and common exception words, sight words are words in the English Language that can't be read using the normal method of sounding out the letters in one of 42 phonic sounds and blending them together.

In other words, normal rules don't apply and your child will have to learn them all by sight.

You don't realise how complicated the English language is until your child has to read it!

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Here is a list of the key sight words your child would be expected to learn by the end of primary / elementary school. Click here for the free printable version.

You can see it's a lot of words.

But don't panic!

Whilst the prospect of your child learning all of these words might seem a little overwhelming, if you help them learn the most common tricky words in a playful way, they will soon be reading with confidence.

This magic word reveal is a great way to help your child learn sight words as it's really fun when the colours appear, they won't even realise they're learning!

We started with the word "the". "The" is one of the first sight words that children learn as it appears so frequently in books. It's classified as a sight word, because when you read it using the simplest phonics form, it would sound out as 'teh'

t = "tuh"

h = "huh"

e = "eh"


So you can see how the normal rules don't apply.

To make this magic words activity, you will need:

  • Plain paper towels

  • Washable felt-tip pens (we like these by Crayola)

  • Black permanent marker pen (I used a Sharpie)

  • Pipette or dropper

  • Pot of water

  • Tray

Start by taking one sheet of kitchen towel, write your word in bold letters and colour them in using your washable felt tip pens.

Don't worry if it's not very neat or your letters are a bit wonky, as long as they are legible and colourful that's fine!

Take a second piece of paper towel, place on top of the first and then trace the outline of the letters using your black permanent maker. It's important this is not a water soluble pen so that it remains clear when you cover it in water.

Place them in your tray, black line paper on top of coloured, and give your child a pipette with a pot of water.

Invite your child to squirt the water over the letters and watch the colour magically appear in the letters!

You can ask them to try and predict what will happen when the water is squirted on.

Watch the video:

By following the shape of the letters your child will get familiar with the letters and the order they are in.

Using the pipette is also a great way to hone those fine motor skills (the movements of fingers and hands) to help with early writing.

...and after!

Mr 5 just loved seeing the results on the colour sheet, so we left ours to dry and it was a really neat piece of abstract art!

For another fun way to learn sight words, we love the Pop for sight words game by Learning Resources - it's perfect for the whole family to enjoy together.

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