Sight Word Games For the Early Reader in Your Life

With my oldest in kindergarten this year, sight words have become a big part of our daily life. She’s practicing them at school and then we have a list at home that we can work on as well. And as I’ve written time and time again, “Play is a child’s work.” So we don’t just buzz through sight word flashcards as fast as we can, we use sight words in our play. Here are a few games we’ve come up with together to help along the way. 

Sight word board game: My daughter and I made this game together in a similar way to how you would play Candyland. There are two ways you can play it- make your own cards with sight words written on them to indicate where your next square is. Or, roll the dice, move forward that many spaces, and read the words as you move. For pieces, we use Bingo tokens, various board game pieces, or small toys. Yes, Skye and Chase help us play this game! If you know, you know!

Sight word Jenga: We bought a few of these tiny tumbling tower sets from Dollar Tree and wrote various sight words on them. Once we pull a brick out, we read the word, and once the tower has tumbled, we take turns making sentences with the words we pulled. We did multiple sets so we could add in more sight words as they learn them in class. I plan to do CVC and CVC-e words someday when she’s ready for that. 

Sight word sentence builder: I bought a pack of sight word flash cards for cheap on Amazon to save me the time and effort of making my own. We use these cards, plus a few index cards with words we decide to add, to create fun sentences. We also use our Jenga blocks for this as well! This one is my daughter’s favorite way to play with sight words! 

Sight word seek and find: For this, we use our sight word flashcards, or sometimes I’ll write them out on sticky notes and use those instead. One of us hides the sight words and then the other one finds them while reading out which word they found. Pictured here is your classic “hide it in the Christmas tree” move. The amount of random toys I pull out of our Christmas tree at the end of the holiday from various hide-and-seek games is unreal!

Sight word seek and find + builder: This game is a two-part game! I place sticky notes with letters throughout our family room, then she is required to find the letters and build the sight words out of the letters. This one took some scaffolding. In the beginning, it was just a letter here or there omitted in sight words that she had to find, but as she got better and better at it, she started spelling her own words with less prompting. 

Sight word hopscotch: This one can be as intricate or as easy as your time and energy allow. We’ve done this quickly outside with sidewalk chalk, quickly inside with our flashcards, or intricately with painter’s tape boxes taped out on the floor or full sheets of paper with the words written on them taped to the floor. SO many different ways to do this one! While jumping from square to square, we read the words. 

Sight word beanbag toss: This one is a simple one we like to do in addition to the other games we’ve been playing. I simply just lay the flashcards out on the floor and my daughter takes a beanbag (or a soft toy, stuffed animal, etc.), tosses it at a card, and if it’s touching the card she reads the word, then she is handed the card. If she doesn’t read the word correctly, she tries again!


Not only are these sight word games building awareness of words, but they are also utilizing fine and gross motor skills, moving around the room, and using, deconstructing, and building these words in ways they haven’t before. Learning sight words isn’t reading. It’s memorizing. And play is a child’s work, so in order to work through memorizing these words, they must play. 

What sight word games would you add to this list? 

Nourishing the Seed

Here is a brief list of book recommendations for middle grade readers (3rd-6th Grade). Stay tuned for more recommendations and more age groups!

Hooky by Miriam Bonastre Tur

One scoop of graphic novel, one dash of fantastical adventure, and two heaping tablespoons of witch makes this book the perfect recipe (or spell!) for the hesitant reader in your life. With beautiful illustrations and an engaging storyline, this is the perfect way to introduce middle-grade readers to novels without making them feel like they are reading a novel.

“When Dani and Dorian missed the bus to magic school, they never thought they’d wind up declared traitors to their own kind! Now, thanks to a series of mishaps, they are being chased by powerful magic families seeking the prophesied King of Witches and royals searching for missing princes.” -HaperCollins Publishers

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

“Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona… she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined.” -GoodReads

This book is the perfect reminder of the importance of friendship, courage, and acceptance (of yourself and others).

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel

Nothing captivates a reader like the suspenseful twists and turns of a good mystery, and this book is no exception! Read aloud or read alone, you’ll find your readers on the edge of their seat.

With a dad who disappeared years ago and a mother who’s a bit too busy to parent, Emmy is shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, where she’s sure she won’t fit in. But then she finds a box of mysterious medallions in the attic of her home with a note reading: These belonged to your father. When she arrives at school, she finds the strange symbols from the medallions etched into walls and books, which leads Emmy and her new friends, Jack and Lola, to Wellsworth’s secret society: The Order of Black Hollow Lane. Emmy can’t help but think that the society had something to do with her dad’s disappearance, and that there may be more than just dark secrets in the halls of Wellsworth…” -Sourcebooks

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Alright, this recommendation might come from a place of self-indulgence as this was a series that I absolutely LOVED as a kid. But I’ve also reread them as an adult, and they still hold up.

For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary is one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite . . . Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, powerful forces of evil are unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives, to save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world.” -Shadow Mountain

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they? It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.” -ABRAMS Publishing

Anyone who has been a kid, is a kid, has kids, or has even looked at a kid has heard of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This series is another resource to encourage disinterested readers. I mean, Jeff Kinney wouldn’t be able to write a 17-book series because kids aren’t reading his books, so he clearly knows a thing or two about getting kids excited about reading.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Accidentally built sideways and standing thirty stories high (the builder said he was very sorry for the mistake), Wayside School has some of the wackiest classes in town, especially on the thirtieth floor. That’s where you’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; Myron, the best class president ever; and Sammy, the new kid—he’s a real rat.” -HarperCollins Publishing

Comedic, clever, and kooky; this book has it all! With chapters that read like short stories, it is ideal for reading out loud. These far-fetched stories will fetch a laugh or two (or 89).

Back to School Affirmations

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down and students, teachers, and parents everywhere are gearing up for a new school year. This time of year can bring about many changes and stressors, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are many tools to combat those stressors, including positive affirmations.

“Today is going to be a good day, and here’s why: because today at least you are you. And that’s enough.”

Dear Evan Hansen

Positive affirmations are phrases or statements that are used to challenge negative thoughts. The concept of positive affirmations might seem hokey or awkward at first, but with consistent use, they can rewire and increase neural pathways. Not only can affirmations have physiological benefits, but they have been shown to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, aid in interventions, and increase academic performance. Our core beliefs are often formed during childhood and introducing affirmations to young children is an excellent way to instill a positive sense of identity.

Whether you are a parent looking to recite affirmations with your children in the morning, a teacher looking to incorporate them into her class routine, or a student who wants to practice them individually; here is a list of some affirmations to get you started!

  • I am smart
  • I am talented
  • I am kind
  • I am loved
  • I can learn anything
  • I always try my best
  • I am a problem solver
  • I am needed
  • I am valued
  • I respect myself
  • I am in control of my learning
  • I deserve joy and success
  • I can meet my goals
  • I do not compare my success against the success of others
  • I am proud of myself
  • I can do hard things
  • I am brave
  • I am important
  • My brain and/or body is powerful
  • I choose to include others
  • I can try again
  • I choose how I respond to things
  • I am responsible
  • I am prepared for my test
  • I can make a difference
  • I am creative
  • I am organized
  • I am capable
  • I see the best in myself and others
  • I listen to others
  • There is no one better to be than myself
  • I bring joy to others
  • I can adapt to any situation

I challenge you to choose two or three affirmations that resonate with you and apply them to your daily routine. If you need a little more inspiration, I highly recommend checking out this video:

Planting the Seed

Here is a brief list of book recommendations for early readers (PreK-2nd Grade). Stay tuned for more recommendations and more age groups!

Matilda by Roald Dahl

A cult classic for many, Matilda might be daunting for your littles to read on their own, but it makes a GREAT read-aloud! Trunchbull is a bit intense for some, however, so teacher/parent discretion is advised. Rewards for finishing the book can include chocolate cake and watching the equally classic movie adaptation.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

This book is a perfect way to teach kindness and friendship. After Jeremy Ross (or “#1 Enemy”, as he is known to the young narrator), moves in down the street, our narrator turns to his dad for help. The father has just the solution! A recipe for a pie that gets rid of enemies. But as it turns out, this secret recipe is much more effective at turning a best enemy into a best friend.

Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea

While it might sound like a potty-training story, Who Wet My Pants? is actually a story about how embarrassment can lead to anger, accidents can (and will) happen, and kindness is the best response.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

This book is required to be read aloud. No, really. The book starts off with, “Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say. Side effects of reading this book can include uncontrollable giggles, choruses of, “Again, again!” from the kids, and not being able to take yourself seriously.

What books resonate well with your early readers? How do you encourage them to be excited about reading?

It’s Time to Kick Some Class! (of 2022)

Graduations across the globe are underway and thousands of students are about to enter a new chapter of their lives. Facing uncertainty can certainly be unnerving, and there are many new stressors that accompany the change. For high school students, they are figuring out which college to attend, what major they want to pursue, or if they even want to get a degree. College students are now faced with finding a lifelong career and hoping it is relevant to their degree and doesn’t turn into a dementor who sucks all the happiness from their life.

Fortunately there are plenty who have experienced graduation and lived to tell about it. Even more fortunate, I am blessed to know some pretty wise people who were willing to impart some of their wisdom with you. So for those graduating high school, college, trade school, or those who chose a different direction, these words are for you.

“Once you graduate, you quickly learn that there are two kinds of people: your friends and those who were friendly just because you had a class together that one time. And that’s okay. Treasure both friendships and learn from them.”

-Kassidy Baird (Yours Truly)

“Always expect more of yourself and take others with you on your way to the top.”

“Don’t be afraid to do something just because it seems interesting! There’s a lot of pressure to build a resume or look good for college applications or whatever, but taking time just for the things you think are cool or fun is so important in being well rounded and not getting stressed!”

“It’s okay to not have it all figured out right now, or even five years from now! Find what brings you joy, be yourself, and trust in your own personal journey.”

“Don’t rush into anything and just live in the moment. Be where you are and accept all of yourself and life will work itself out.”

“Find what you love and follow that passion. But don’t be afraid to try new things on the way. You may be surprised at what else lights your fire.”

-Twin 1

“Find something you love! So often we get caught up in ambition and what’s next, when in reality life goes so fast! Take some time for yourself to get to know what you like and what things excite you. There are so many more opportunities for your future than you could ever realize! The best part is that most people love talking about what they do and would be more than willing for you to come see their day-to-day. Explore, travel, and ask lots of questions. When what you do excites you, you will love life and make the world around you a better place.”

-Twin 2

(It isn’t super relevant that they are twins but I think it’s fun to see the similarities in their responses when they didn’t know what the other had said).

“Start applying now. And know you have more experience than you think.”

“It’s not about what you know. It’s about WHO you know. Network and be KIND.”

“Enjoy the day. Let your family take the pictures and celebrate the crap out of you. You deserve it.”

“Don’t get sucked into the rat race. After high school, for the first time, there’s all this flexibility and independence and it gets really easy to judge our own paths by the milestones we see other people hitting or not hitting (whether/when people are married, when people get degrees, if someone got a degree, other people who get right into working/careers). But life is flexible for a reason! You don’t have to have it all figured out, so don’t get caught up in measuring yourself against a measuring stick that doesn’t exist.

I hope you guys enjoyed these words of wisdom! I have plenty more nuggets of advice that I will share in a future post. What advice do you have for the graduating class of 2022? Share your advice in the comments! Who knows, you could even end up being quoted in my next post.

Color Me Concluded: My Final Musings on the True Colors Personality Test

This post is part of a series of posts on teaching to different personality types as found in the True Colors Personality Test. To see more, head here.

If you’ve gotten to the end of my True Colors Personality exploration, you might be asking yourself “Now what? How can I apply this knowledge to better myself as a teacher/parent/student/friend?” Ultimately, that is up to you. I know a lot of people think personality tests can be gimmicky, and when it comes to the “What Kind of Cheese Are You on the Weekends?” sort of test, I can agree. But I do think there are some personality tests that can propel you toward valuable introspection. McKenzie did a great job of covering a few of these with her deep dives of the Myers-Briggs, Enneagram , and the Child Whisperer personality tests.

As noted on Better Help, “The true colors personality test provides a method of understanding ourselves and others. The test uses the colors orange, gold, blue and green to represent four different personality types. The four colors combine in different ways to make up different personality spectrums. For most people, one of the four types is more dominant than the others. Learning about our personalities offers insights into our different behaviors, motivations and more.

“By using colors instead of labels, the true colors personality test aims to improve global understanding. The intuitive classification makes it easier for us to identify and remember the four personality types.”

These tests aren’t meant to serve as definitive labels for yourself and others; they are merely guideposts that can help you make sense of human nature. It can be easy to see your results in black and white when they should be used to recognize all the shades of gray within your personality and the personality of those around you. I could tell myself, “As someone with a blue personality, I shouldn’t be friends with gold personalities because we are too different.” And sure, there are some personalities that might clash a little more with others, but the whole point of these tests is to prove that anyone can get along with everyone if you take the time to understand them.

Another benefit of knowing different personality tests is that you can use your results to identify opportunities for growth. As a blue, maybe you need a lesson on resolving conflict instead of avoiding it. If you are a gold, you might consider trying to live in the moment rather than planning for the future. For those with a green personality, practice identifying your emotions and giving yourself permission to feel them. Perhaps an orange needs to train themselves to think before acting. 

Think of personality test a healthy reminder that we all have strengths, weaknesses, quirks (endearing or otherwise), and something unique to bring to the table. Personality tests can be a wonderful reference point in learning how to get along with others, regardless of what their results indicate. Don’t let someone’s True Color dictate to you how you think that person will act, allow them to show you. 

As a teacher, you should distribute at least one personality test within the first week of school. If your students are too young to answer questions themselves, send the test to their parents and have them answer it. Not only is it a fun activity for your class, but it allows you to better plan lessons and activities. It opens up lines of communication and sparks meaningful conversations.

Do you know your True Color? How has this knowledge helped you as a teacher?

Teaching GREEN: Using the True Colors Personality Test in the Classroom

This post is part of a series of posts on teaching to different personality types as found in the True Colors Personality Test. To see more, head here.

I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”, but how many are you familiar with the entire phrase? “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” This expressions aptly describes the inquisitive souls that have a green personality. They have an insatiable curiosity and they are willing to die any (metaphorical) deaths in their quest for enlightenment. To your green students, work is play. They love a good challenge and using their intellect to solve problems. They are logical and analytical while still managing to be creative and abstract. Kids with a green personality are independent thinkers and come across as being far older than their years. They are calm, cool, and collected–until emotions get involved. Much like a plant, those who lean green thirst for knowledge and absolutely thrive in the right environment.

But what is the right environment?

For starters, these students are your introverts. Not only do they struggle with social interactions, they can feel stifled by group work because it doesn’t give them a chance to explore concepts in depth. Whenever possible, meet with them one-on-one or in small groups and you’ll get a much better idea about where they are at with the material. Give them time to internalize new information and to recharge after social interactions. They are usually overflowing with knowledge but they don’t always know how to open up. On the contrary, they might open up easily but they don’t always have the awareness to know when to stop.

The other students might see them as cold, critical, and callous but it’s really just that they prefer to do their own thing in their own way. They are inclined to get directly to the point and they don’t feel the need to stop along the way for social calls. Greens probably won’t completely come out of their shell while in class, but there are ways you can get them to poke their heads out and look around.

Your secret weapon? Those bubbly, blue students in your classroom.

Your blue students are the perfect pairing for your green students. Blues are social, but not overwhelmingly so (like an orange), and they can think in abstract terms just as well as a green can. Blues care about genuine connections and they know how to befriend someone in a way that the other person needs. They might overwhelm a green by the ease in which they talk about their emotions, but it also helps greens be aware of their own emotions. Consider the unlikely friendship of Sherlock and Watson. Sherlock is absolutely brilliant, often comes across as arrogant, and he only focuses on the case in front of him. Watson is also brilliant, but a lot more approachable and has a healthier work-life balance. And yet as different as they are, the friendship works. Next time you switch up your seating chart, try sitting your green students near your blue students. It will probably be a little uncomfy for the green at first, but there never was any comfort in the growth zone or growth in the comfort zone.

Your green students need to respect you as a teacher before they will be willing to learn from you. Allow your class to ask questions or contribute ideas anonymously, or use email as a way to communicate with them. This helps build trust with them and shows that you are willing to foster a relationship that is unique to their learning style. They want others to notice their competence and intellect so complimenting them on specific knowledge that they share is a great way to get them to open up even further.

For those of you teaching high school, continue to cultivate the natural curiosity that your green students have. Allow them to share their insights whenever possible. Help them identify what they are passionate about and point them in the direction of potential careers within those interests. For those teaching greens of any age, try not to get frustrated when they point out any flaws in your teaching or when they bombard you with increasingly in-depth questions. Spend time discussing their personal goals and touch base with them often. Taking even a little interest in them as an individual makes all the difference to anyone with a green personality.

Students with a green personality bring so much to your class! Do you have any tips on using their curiosity to drive their learning?