Develop automatic recognition of sight words in a fun format.

Three-word phrases are put on cards. The ones you see here are copied from the Great Leaps program’s Sight Word Phrases probe #8, but you can make your own. The idea is to include words that come up a lot in reading and are sometimes mistaken for a word they look something like. So if you’re making your own deck, put in saw and was, from and for, off and of, etc. Also be sure to include singulars as well as plurals. Just keep in mind that for many kids with some visual confusion, the context helps them make their final judgment about a word’s true identity, and that piece is missing from this game.

This is an activity for one child to do with an adult (or a more advanced reader of the supportive variety.) The child reads through the cards quickly. Any phrase that is read correctly is a “ZIP” and goes in the child’s pile. Any phrase that is read incorrectly (even something as minor as leaving off a final s) is labeled an “UNZIP” and goes in the adult’s pile. Pause to let the child review the phrase and see what went wrong. Then continue playing until eventually all 30 cards in the deck are assigned to the ZIP and UNZIP piles. Tally the number of ZIP cards vs. UNZIP cards, review the cards in the UNZIP pile, and play again. The goal now is to get even more ZIP cards than on Round 1.

When you move on to create a new deck, be sure to include some of the old cards to build in review. Also, be sure to “stack the deck” so that you’re confident the child will have more ZIP than UNZIP cards.


 The same format can be used for times tables, addition facts, and subtraction facts in math, and verb conjugations in a foreign language.