Sight Words

The following applications are designed to teach children sight words.

Most Highly Recommended

Kids Learn Sight Words: This app leads children through a variety of activities. Children are given a series of five words on the top of the screen, with an area below for writing the words. After completing each group of five words they get to play a game with those words. The games vary. (1) One game has children do a puzzle. When they touch a piece it says a word. The words are written on the empty puzzle square, so children drag and match what they hear to the matching words. (2) Another game is a memory game with the sight words. (3) Another has children play tic-tac-toe against the computer. They hear a word and have to find that word on the board. (4) A hangman game has children try to guess the sight word based on the blanks given. (5) In a spelling game, children tap the star to hear a word and then drag letters from the alphabet to make that word. (6) A word search game appears in later levels (i.e., levels with more advanced word groups). This is a great app. I recommend it highly. It has a large variety of games and the children love it. The writing function is well designed. Many children enjoying writing the words as much as they enjoy playing the games.

Action Sight Words: This app has many different games that give practice with sight words. Different levels of sight words can be turned on and off, and you can specify which words from each group to include. (1) The “Word Machine” game gives three words and says one aloud. Children choose that word. (2) The “Gears” game has children tap dots that then say words aloud. Children drag the matching words from the gears below. (3) The “Bingo” game says words aloud that children then find and touch on their four-by-four bingo card. (4) In the “Memory Games,” children try to remember where words are and match them to the audio buttons they touch. (5) The “Spelling” game has children take letters that are scrambled and put them in order to make sight words. (5) “Flash Cards” just shows children different words and tells them what they are. I recommend this app highly. It has a lot of content. There are many different games and children are very entertained by them. I also like how quickly and easily you can customize which words to include. When your child is just being introduced to sight words, you can limit it to the very simplest of words and then build from there. However, I do have a couple of criticisms. First, the “Spelling” game provides some good practice, but there are other apps that focus on that specific type of game, and they do it a little better. Second, there are a couple of games wherein children can make noises by pressing on pictures (e.g., a dog, some cars). Some children become pretty distracted by that feature, and they do not end up learning as much as they would otherwise.

Gopher Finding: Children see words on the screen and are asked to find one. Each round starts with four words on each screen. If a student gets many of the first words correct, then it switches to six words on each screen. There are five levels. The only different between them is the difficulty of the words included. If children get a series of words correct, then they get items of clothing that they can later use to dress up the gopher. This is a very simple, well-designed app. The reward of getting clothing for correctly answering words makes this app very entertaining for many children. Another positive characteristic is that it does not encourage random guessing. If a child guesses incorrectly, it gives the answer. Rewards are provided only for correct answers. Unfortunately, the menu where children make new gopher outfits (with the clothes they earn) is not very well designed. To make a new gopher, children have to touch the tiny “new” button in the top of a standard iPad style screen, the type of screen you would expect to see in a settings menu.

Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop: There are three different sections. (1) In the “Flash Cards” section, children are shown one word at a time. Either they hear each word immediately, or they have to click on the word to hear it, depending on the setting. (2) In the “Word Challenge” section, children are shown four words and a voice asks them to find a word. They have to find ten words in each group, and if they choose the wrong word three times, then they have to start over or try another level. (3) In the “Spelling” section, children hear a word and to use a keyboard to type that word. Again, if children make more than two mistakes, they must start over or try another group. This is a good app for practicing sight words. It is visually interesting, and children like the three characters they can choose from. Another positive quality is the range of skill required for the different sections.  This is an app that you can use with children of varying ages and skill levels.

Spelling Words Card Matching Game: This app has children play a simple memory game with word cards. If you purchase the full app, there are many different groups of words you can choose from (e.g., short words, long words, animals, words with a short ‘a’), but I mainly use the sight word groups. There is also an option to play in a two-player mode, or to play against the iPad. This is a simple but effective app. Children like it, and it provides good practice with sight word recognition.

Sight Words by Photo Touch: Children see a group of words on the screen. A voice says a word and children have to find that word. You can choose how many words to have on the screen at a time, up to ten. You can also choose whether or not to show the words children are looking for at the top of the screen. And you can choose what levels of sight words to include. This is a very simple, well designed app. It provides children with good practice recognizing sight words.

Word Bingo: This is a simple sight word bingo game. Children hear a word and then try to find it one the bingo board. If they guess wrong, the word is shown at the bottom of the screen. There are five levels: Pre-Primer, Primer, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade. There is also “Spelling Practice” section wherein children unscramble and drag letters to create words. You can turn hints on for this section so that they only have to match the words, or you have blanks to fill in. This is a good app. It’s simple and it’s pretty well designed. It provides good practice recognizing sight words. However, I do not use the “Spelling Practice” section very much. The letters are a little hard to drag. They move a little bit above where you’re touching the screen.


Somewhat Recommended

Endless Reader: This app is very similar to the simpler “Endless Alphabet” app, made by the same developers. Children select a word. The colorful letters of the word are then scattered around the screen by a group of silly monsters. A gray guide showing which letter goes where remains in the middle of the screen. When the colorful letters are returned to their spots, children see an animation that corresponds to the word. After that, a sentence is presented that contains the word. A few words from the sentence are scattered across the screen. Children have to put the words back in place. When the words are touched, the app says the words over and over in a silly voice. This app is engaging and entertaining. Children like it very much. But I have the same criticisms for it and its sister app “Endless Alphabet.” Children are not asked to do much that requires thinking. They only drag letters and words to the matching gray letters or words. And the silly voices sometimes differ too much from the letter sounds and word sounds that we want children to be listening for when developing their phonics skills. I chose to categorize this app as a “Sight Word” app, because it primarily teaches whole words. However, I do not think it is among the best apps for that purpose.

Sight Words by Little Speller: Children hear a sight word and see the letter tiles needed to spell that word scattered on the top of the screen. They have to drag them down and put them in the correct order to form the words. The “Visual Hints” or “Letter Hints” options can be turned on so that children see the words and simply have to match them. For a challenge, “Word Hints” can be turned off so that children have to figure out what the word is based on the letters provided. This option makes the game more like a puzzle. This is a pretty good app. It’s very simple, so it is not the most exciting app, but it helps foster sight word recognition. It also has the potential to grow a little bit with children as they gain more sight word knowledge. I do have a couple of criticisms. First, letter tiles are sometimes scattered in such a way that they cover up others. Maybe that’s a fun challenge for some children, but it frustrates others. Second, I wish there was an option to have extra letters on the screen, so that it can be more challenging for children who are further along.

Sight Words List- Learn to Read Flash Cards & Games: Children see a list of words on the screen, they hear a word, and they touch that word. There are six different sets of words: Preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, and Nouns. This is a very simple app that provides some good practice with sight words. However, it’s not very exciting for children, and I do have a few criticisms. First, it is sometimes a little glitchy. I occasionally have to close the app and started it again. Second, I have seen word lists that include homonyms, such as ‘two’ and ‘to’ on the same list. Of course, those words sounds the same, so children don’t know which to touch. Third, although you can delete words from lists, I am not sure if you can turn those words back on or not. So you can make the game simpler for younger children, but I do not know if there is a quick way to make it harder when they are ready for more words. Perhaps you would have to reinstall the game.


Not Recommended

Licking Letters: In this app, children hear a word and see how it’s spelled. Then letters move across the screen while a frog sits below. Children have to touch the frog to catch the letters in the word above. Memorization of words is the only skill being taught, and not particularly well. Random guessing is encouraged; rewards are presented regardless of incorrect choices.

Speaktacular Sight Words Edu: Children are taught groups of sight words, which they are asked to repeat. The microphone picks up the child’s voice and determines whether each spoken word matches the word on the screen. This is a very ambitious app, but the technology just isn’t there yet. Even in my quiet apartment, when I’m pronouncing words as carefully as I can, the app still misrecognizes many words. There are also a couple of design decisions that I think could be improved. The written words are very small on the screen—I would prefer that they be larger and more noticeable. And the words from each list (separated by grade) are presented in alphabetical order. It would be better to teach children either the simplest or most common words first.

Sight Words (by eFlashApps): There are a few different games in this app. The “Word Tour” section teaches children words. The “Find and Shoot” section shows children either three or five words (depending on the difficulty setting) and children click on the right word for the child below to shoot. The “Put it Right” section has children unscramble sight words. The “Memory Game” section has children play a game of memory with word cards (six for the easy level and twelve for the hard level). This is not a great app. It provides some good practice, but not a lot. The “Memory Game” is the best designed section. That’s the only section that I ever use. In most of the games, the words are always presented in the same alphabetical order. Children get much more practice with the words at the beginning of the alphabet, which isn’t a very logical way to teach sight words. The word ‘the’, for example, is a very common (and therefore very important) sight word, but children have to play for quite a while before they are introduced to it. I also dislike the inclusion of a gun in the “Find and Shoot” game.

ABC Phonics Sight Words: There are three learning activities in this game. (1) In the “Word Flashcards” section, children see a word (presented on word tiles) and hear what is. (2) In the “Spelling Words” section, they hear a word. They have to drag the letters at the bottom up and put them in order to make that word. (3) In the “Unscramble Words” section, children are given the letters but not the word—they have to figure out what the word is. This is not a great app. The way the words are put on tiles with space between them is a little unnatural. I don’t think that’s the best way to get children to a point where they will recognize whole words. Also, the “Unscramble Words” section is pretty challenging for younger children. And there are a handful strange words included in the different levels. For example, the word ‘flower’ is included in the easiest group of words.

Sight Word Match: This is a simple memory game with sight words. Children can play with six, twelve, or twenty-six cards on the screen. This app provides a little bit of good practice, but I don’t think it does much to help teach sight words. The main problem is that when a match is formed, children hear the word spoken at the same time that the cards disappear. They do not get a chance to look at a word after they hear what it is.