Rae’s Chinese enrichment centre weekly gives Chinese Sight Words Flashcards as take-home learning materials. I was thinking how to use these cards to reinforce her sight word recognition skills. Personally I am not a firm believer of just using flashcards to teach sight word recognition without teaching them in context and with concrete objects. I believe that children internalise new words faster and retain them longer when they are able to make the cognitive connection between the new words and what it represents. Before children can make the mental link between the words and the pictorial representation, they must first be able to relate the words to real experiences, objects or actions.
So to begin with, I got Rae to go on a Scavenger Hunt around the house looking for the objects that represent the sight words. I was amazed at how well she remembered where everything is kept, even in the remote places! She collected a good mix of real objects, her own toys and the craft work she made and put them into the collection box.
Next, I laid out the sight word cards a few at a time, and asked her to match the right object from the collection box to the sight words. Because she found the objects herself, she was able to quickly recall and match them in no time. This activity allows children to illustrate the words with familiar objects from their environment, hence the learning is contextualised and concretised. Matching real objects with the sight words also taps into their visual memory, aids language processing and helping them to understand the semantic meaning in each word.
It also helps that it is a kinesthetic activity where she gets to move around the big rug to complete the matching! She gets busy!! 🙂
Once she mastered matching the objects with the sight words (concrete), I then proceeded to ask her to match the sight words with pictures (pictorial). It was much easier for her to match the pictures because of her prior learning experience of matching the objects. Read out the words to your child, to reinforce the word recognition skills. Once you observed your child is able to identify a few sight words quite well, you can then proceed to use the sight word cards to teach independent reading (without pictorial cues).