A simple ‘Word Island’ for Reading & Literacy

Common / high frequency words attached to straws as a literacy tool.

When children are frequently mixing up similar words, we sometimes create a ‘word island’ from straws and an egg box. Whilst it’s only very a simple prop, it can act as a visual cue, which seems to reinforce ideas more effectively than using just a paper and pen. We also use the colours as a reference – e.g. “which word is on the blue straw?”. This technique also works well for sight words and high frequency words.

High Frequency Words

High frequency words describe words that are the most commonly used in the English language. Some of them may not be easy to conjure up a visual image with which to associate them. Some can be sounded out phonetically, others cannot. However, as these words are so commonly used, there’s a strong  argument to be made for committing them to memory. Being able to recognize these words at a glance, without having to sound them out can help with the fluency and speed of reading.

Some high frequency words or sight words may also not follow regular language rules of spelling or phonics (‘said’, ‘does’, ‘one’ etc.) – This can make them harder to learn for younger children, which is why committing them to memory is a good idea.

Games and Activity Ideas

There are lots of fun ways you can introduce sight words / high-frequency words. Playing word games is a fun and engaging way to do this. These might include:

Building a solid foundation of high frequency words can really help build confidence in reading. They make up a significant percentage of words used in children’s literature. Being able to use them fluently will enable children to progress to more complex aspects of literacy involving comprehension and analysis.