Array Sight Words Digging Sensory Tray | Montessori From The Heart

Sight Words Digging Sensory Tray


Sight words digging sensory tray is designed to promote reading fluency in preschoolers and kindergartners through fun hands-on sensory small world play.

Sight words digging play tray kids activity is a fun way to introduce your preschooler to “sight words” which are words that appear most frequently in reading texts. Also referred to as Dolch Words, sight words are lists of specifically chosen high-frequency words. As such, a child must learn these words by SIGHT rather than by sounding out, blending or segmenting. Besides, many of these sight words defy standard phonetic conventions, meaning that they are practically impossible to sound out. Most importantly, teaching sight words early on will help your preschooler to become an efficient reader. Therefore, frequent practice through fun hands-on invitations to learn and play, such as Sight Words Digging Sensory play, will help little learners memorize these words, many of which are hard to decode using conventional strategies.

WHAT You’ll need for this sight words sensory play:

  • sight words (download a 3 Level SIGHT-WORDS PDF HERE)
  • a large tray or a bin (we are using this metal tray)
  • sensory filler (we are using little pebbles from the beach and cloud dough in the middle). To make cloud dough, combine one cup of flour plus 1 oz of oil.
  • larger rocks to write letters on
  • diggers, tractors or other transportation vehicles

HOW TO make this sight words kids activity:

This sight words digging sensory tray is perfect for little ones who love transportation. First, decide what you would like to use as your sensory filler. For example, you can use real or kinetic sand, small pebbles, or even expired cereal or grains. Here, we are using pebbles and small stones found at the beach, and, in the middle, I placed cloud dough to resemble dirt. Next, with a permanent marker write letters on the rocks (one letter per rock). Make sure to have enough rock letters to cover the words included, so that each set is complete.


 Lastly, print and laminate your sight words and arrange in your sensory bin along with letter-rocks. Offer your child to pick a word-card, read it and then spell it out by moving little rocks with a digger to make the sight word chosen.


You may download for your personal use the SIGHT-WORDS PDF here. Print the PDF, laminate all the pages and then cut out each word along the dotted line. You will notice that each page is color-coded according to its level. Level 1 is blue, Level 2 is green and Level 3 is red. To determine which level your child should use, you can do either of the two:

  • have your child read Level 1: if s/he makes more than three mistakes, start with this level; otherwise proceed to the next level. Adrian (five-year-old), made five mistakes in Level 3, so it is the level I will be using today
  • you can also have your child read all three levels, and choose only the words the child read incorrectly, so you will end up with various words from all three levels

For this activity, I am using one column of words, which is eight words at a time. With smaller children, you might want to start with just three words.


Ways to adopt:

If you have a toddler who is learning his/her name, simply substitute the sight word cards with a name card on it.

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Want more sight word fun?

Sight Words Golf Tee Hammering

Another way to use your sight words is to play sound out each letter and hammer it with golf tees! We love upcycling our egg cartons, and this is a fun way to practicing spelling sight words by hammering each letter! First, choose a few words at a time and spell them out on dot stickers. Then, place dot stickers on the egg carton. Once the child chooses a sight word, offer to sound each letter and hammer it out. You can also offer your child to spell out the sight word without referring to the card. You can also modify this activity for a wide age-range:

  • 1.5 Y – placing NO stickers and offer your child to simply hammer the golf tees
  • 2 YO – place colorful dot stickers and play a game: “can you hammer ___ color?”
  • 2.5 Y – place numbers or letters and play the same game
  • 3 Y – balance pom poms on golf tees once hammered
  • 4 Y – spell your child’s name and offer to hammer each letter – aka name recognition activity
  • 5 Y- hammer sight words

Please, always supervise your children while they are learning through play.

Did you know that SIGHT WORDS account for 50 to 75 percent of the words that appear in print, so it is important for children to learn the correct spelling and to recognize the words instantly by SIGHT in order to achieve reading fluency! This allows the child to concentrate on reading comprehension without having to stop and decode each word.

FUN FACT according to Fry’s research:

  • 12 sight words make up 25% of words your little one would encounter while reading
  • 25 sight words make up approximately one-third of all published text
  • 100 sight words make up 50% of the words we read and write
  • 300 words make up approximately 65 percent of all written material

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  • Reply Nasreen August 13, 2023 at 8:38 pm

    What other games are good to teach sight words


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