Magenta, Red or Yellow - Colours of Learning

Word Recognition in the Junior School

Flash cards - they seem like an old fashioned concept and yet are still going strong today as a study tool to master information we need to remember. I recently assessed the sight words my students knew, then made up small plastic bags with four words they did not know to go home along with their reading book. Why?

Sight words are simple words that are frequently used (to, and, went)  or non-phonetic (come)  and can make up to between 50% to 80% of the words in the readers at the junior level.  While our five and six year olds are developing their phonetic skills to begin to sound out words, they are not yet developed to the level where they can successfully sound out the whole word.  Being able to quickly recognise the common sight words is a huge advantage in trying to read the books rather than attempting to sound them out. There are also the words you cannot sound out like ‘come’ that you just have to get to know.  

Each Friday we will check and see if the words are secure and if so the student can have another 4 words to practice. Already a lot of Room 9 are excited to begin knowing their words and many are actively trying to move from the Magenta words (beginning set of sight words) to Red words ( the next level).

Quality Learning Time

Reading Eggs has this to say;

Reading researchers have distinguished four phases of development in sight word reading. In the pre-alphabetic phase children are essentially non-readers that recognise visual features of words. In the partial alphabetic phase they make connections between some of the sounds and letters in a word, but this can lead to confusion between similar words.

"Children become full alphabetic phase readers when they can learn sight words by forming complete connections between letters in spellings and phonemes in pronunciations". This is an ideal time for sight word training.

In the final phase, consolidated alphabetic, readers find it easier to memorise more sight words as they have an extensive knowledge of how language is put together.

However, studies have shown that teaching children too many words during a lesson reduces retention. So be sure to limit sessions to just focus on one to three new words, as well as reviewing previously introduced sight words.’  This site also has great holiday ideas for games using your flash cards.


Linking the  Learning To the Text

The easiest way to do this is to ask your child to find one of the words they are learning in the text.  How many can you find?  They are excited when they can do this and show you.

Madeleine says, Mum writes when we practise in the Reading Log..

Bowie says, I am excited to be moving up to yellow words.

Jack says, I know all my Magenta words and am on Red words.

Koda says,  Mum does them with me. 


Curriculum Areas: English; Listening, Reading and Viewing

Keywords: sight words, phonetic knowledge, non-phonetic

Colours of Learning Room 9 Picture 2