How to Teach Sight Words and Sound Spellings Using a Big Book Story

Something I discovered during my years as a classroom teacher is that it works so well to pre-teach specific sight words and sound spellings (phonics concepts) using a big book as the children are sitting around you on a rug. Rather than jumping right in and reading the story to them or with them, pre-teach and give them the lay of the land ahead of time. Doing this will help the focus concepts jump off the page and reading the story will be more successful.

Following is one way to teach sight words and sound spellings using a big book. We are going to use the story A Moose Is Loose from the Easy-for-Me™ Children's Readers Set B, and the mini-lessons will last for a week because there are so many concepts to teach in this story!

A snapshot of the concepts taught from this story


Easy-for-Me Children's Readers Set B 


Long U and OO spellings:

OO – moose, loose, scoop, troop, rooting, hoot, snoozing, roosting, soon.

EW – newspaper, flew, crew, knew, stew, new.

OE – shoes, canoe.

O – to, do.

UE – cue, blue, glue.

UI – suit, fruit, cruise.

Compound Word – Newspaper

Adding –ING – rooting, roosting, snoozing

Sight Words – By the time the children get to this story, they will have already learned and practiced all the sight words in List B, so it is a matter of reviewing and searching for the words that appear in this story.


Words included in List B:

am, ask, be, cut, got, him, into, its, let, run, us, yes, away, from, funny, may, must, of, put, say, that, them, they, went, any, fly, just, last, many, she, show, than, try, what, when, why, ate, fast, good, our, pull, saw, sing, then, too, took, who, with, about, all, eat, gave, new, read, still, take, tell, work, your

Basic Procedures

Day 1, introduce the book title page and ask the children what they think the story is going to be about based on the title.

Next, display this chart.

How to Teach Sight Words and Sound Spellings Using a Big Book StoryDay 1, hunt for OO and O words. You can use colored film to put over those words in the big book so they will stand out nicely when you read.Tell the children you are going to be looking for words that have the OO sound as in the word MOO! But there are different ways to spell that sound, so each day when you read the book together you will be hunting for a particular sound. When you have found the words that match that sound spelling, you will write them on the chart.

Day 2, search for EW words and even during other times of the day when you find another EW word, add it to the chart.

Day 3, add the OE words.

Day 4, add UI words.

Day 5, add UE words.



Follow-up Activities

Days 1- 2, practice adding -ING to words such as RUN, SNAP, FAN, PLAN, SLAM, CHAT, TAP, and CLAP. Say that if you just stuck the -ING on the end of the word, the I would reach around and pinch the vowel, making it yell its name (FAN would become FANING, PLAN would become PLANING, etc.), so you have to double the final letter.

Days 3- 4, add -ING to these words: name, tame, flame, rake, wake, wait, yank, tramp, call, salt, etc. These words either already have a Pinchy E making the first vowel long, OR they have two consonants at the end of the word that prevent the I in -ING from pinching them. So NAME becomes NAMING (remove the final e), TAME becomes TAMING, BLAME becomes BLAMING, CAMP becomes CAMPING, FALL becomes FALLING, etc.

Day 5, practice compound words. Break up the following compound words into single words and write each word on an index card. Write words that begin a compound word in one color and words that end the word in another color (example: AIRPORT becomes AIR PORT). Here are the words: anyone, baseball, bedroom, cookbook, daylight, dugout, football, forever, itself, into, inside, indoor, himself, homework, hilltop, herself, haircut, jellyfish, maybe, myself, nobody, outside, rainfall, rosebud, sailboat, seashell, seesaw. Have the child use the cards to put small words together to make compound words. Of course each compound word they make will have one red word and one blue one.

Example page from Day 1 when you are highlighting OO spellings

How to Teach Sight Words using a bookAfter reading, talk about the plot. What would the children have done had they been the newspaper reporter who was called on to help with the animals that got loose? What solution would they have created? It would be fun for the children to WRITE an alternate solution. They can use the words in this story as references for spelling. 
On the following days, you would add colored film to the words that contain the sound spellings you are focusing on.

Most of all, have fun with the story and for sure, love learning!

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