Teaching Sight Words using the 8 Multiple Intelligences

The Reading Tree Series


Teaching Sight Words
using the 8 Multiple Intelligences

FB pic septAs explained in August’s blog post, sight words are crucial for learning how to read. They are words that are used over and over again and are difficult or impossible to sound out, therefore must be memorized as a whole word to gain reading fluency. From Early Readers to The Wall Street Journal, sight words make up 60-85% of reading material. By identifying and using the appropriate “multiple intelligences” to teach your child sight words, you can specifically stimulate their brain to learn and remember these ever-so important words for life! So what are “multiple intelligences”?

Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University identified 8 different ways people learn and retain information, and named them “Multiple Intelligences”. By identifying the particular multiple intelligence(s) through which your child learns best, you can specifically help them build a strong sight-word reading foundation! The chart below explains Dr. Gardner’s 8 different learning approaches.

MI sept blog

*chart from: http://www.4mylearn.org/Neurodiversity.html

Outlined below are brain-stimulating Multiple Intelligence(s) activities that you can use to teach sight words:


  1. Using a musical instrument, make 1 noise for each letter that makes up the sight word (have = beat a drum 4 times, 1 for each letter)
  2. Use a well-known tune and spell out the sight word (“Old McDonald had a sight word- m-y with an m-y here and an m-y there, here is MY there is MY everywhere is MY MY! Old McDonald had a sight word- MY MY MY MY MY!”)- change the sight word as you learn them!


  1. Puzzles! Using fun colored paper or post its, cut out letters in the sight word and have your child order the letters to spell out the sight word correctly
  2. Play ‘Dice’-Of-Fortune! Using square pieces of paper, write 1 letter per paper. Have your child roll the dice and say a letter. If he gets a letter correct, give him ‘tokens’ or Legos for the number he rolled. (if he rolled a 2, give him 2 tokens/Legos) Have your child try to figure out what the sight word is! When he guesses the sight word have him count the tokens or build something using the Legos he got! PLAY AGAIN with a new sight word!


  • Looking into a mirror, have your child read the sight words out loud. Have them say the sight word using different voices – happy, sad, excited, mad, shocked, and scared!
  • Create a ‘sight word book’! Pick 1 sight word and have your child use it in a sentence. Then, illustrate that sentence! (if developmentally-appropriate, have your child write or type the sentence)


  1. Play FREEZE using a song! Put a song on and have your child dance when the music is playing, but when the music STOPS have them freeze and say or spell out the sight word they are learning (advanced: when the music stops – use the sight word in a sentence!)
  2. Play Hopscotch! Instead of writing numbers in each square, write sight words! Have your child spell and say the sight word they land on.
  3. Using sight word flashcards, hold up 1 sight word at a time. When your child sees the sight word they are working on, have them do a jumping jack or jump up and down and say the sight word.


  1. Build each letter of a sight word using Legos or Unifix Cubes. If the letters are difficult to form, write the sight word on a piece of paper and have them lay the pieces on top of the letters. (advanced– do not pre-write the sight word and have them just build each letter themselves)
  2. Use play-dough and form each letter of the sight word. Make one BIG play-dough sight word and one SMALL play-dough sight word.


  1. Use stuffed animals, action figures, or dolls and have your child read the sight word to each toy. Have your child ‘be the teacher’ and teach the toy how to spell and read the sight words.
  2. Let your child invite a FRIEND over to play a sight-word matching game!
  3. Send sight word mail! Pick 2 or 3 friends or family members and mail them sight word flashcards/drawings. (have your child paint or stamp out the sight words using colors instead of just pencil and paper)


  1. Write out each letter of a sight word saying a little ‘story’ about each letter. (can= c– a cat is chasing his tail and stops… a– this is a ball and a stick so it won’t roll away… n– this is a short man taking one big step)
  2. Use pictures! Show your child a cut-out picture from magazines, photos, or clip art. Make up a sentence using the sight word and visual.
  3. Open up a book and use a magnifying glass to ‘find’ the sight word they are learning in the book. Count how many they find!
  4. Play a dinner table sight word-listening game! If anyone at the table uses the sight word(s) the child is learning that week when they speak, have that person clap their hands.


  1. On a not-so-windy day, hide side word cards around your back yard for your child to find.
  2. Have your child collect leaves or sticks from outside. Use those nature pieces to spell out the sight word(s) you are working on.
  3. In your backyard, use birdseed to spell out the sight word on a piece of paper. Leave the piece of paper outside with the birdseed on it for the birds to come eat! (Want it to stick? try spreading the birdseed with peanut butter!)

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is ‘youer’ than you.” Dr. Seuss says it best once again! Every child learns in different ways and certain approaches help their brain understand and remember things better than others. If you are unsure what Multiple Intelligence(s) applies to your child, click the following link to help give you a little insight: http://www.literacynet.org/mi/assessment/findyourstrengths.html

So tell me… how does your child learn best?!

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*Also- look for more information about my Sight Word ‘Mush Mush Readers’ coming this fall! They teach 1 sight word per book, have great visuals to build vocabulary, and help build your child’s early reading confidence! 

Joanna Merideth <><

Don’t miss Joanna’s other Reading Tree posts:

12 Terrific Read-Aloud Tips

The Significance of Sight Words in Early Reading Skills


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