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If you’re been reading for any length of time, you’ll know that I am all about hands-on learning. Using Scrabble letter tiles is a great way to learn and practice letter recognition, practice other early reading skills, and practice spelling the tricky sight words.

Do We Learn to Read with Phonics or Sight Words?

There are two main schools of thought in teaching reading. The first is whole reading instruction, which focuses on memorizing the shape and form of words so when a word is seen again it is recognized. The other approach focuses on phonics, which encourages memorizing the phonemes (individual sounds) that are attached to each phonogram (one or more letters that have a unique sound).

I am much more interested in teaching reading and spelling using phonics. I feel that children do a much better job in learning to read when we focus on the sounds of various phonograms. We can then build on this phonics approach to reading when we sound out words they have never seen before. They still have to memorize phonograms and their phonemes, but this is a lot less than thousands of words.

The Logic of English program thoroughly teaches phonics. Next year I will use Foundations for my Kindergartner, and my fourth-grader is going to go through the Essentials program as a review of the basic phonograms.

In addition, the Logic of English provides an additional instructional book dedicated to sight words. You may wonder how that could be: Can phonics and a whole reading (sight words) approach work together? Well, the great news is that in the Sounding Out the Sight Words: An Alternative to Rote Memorization, Logic of English describes the phonics rules that explain most of the sight words. Believe it or not, most sight words likewise follow the “rules” of English phonics. I love this!

I realized last year that my third-grader sometimes still misspelled basic sight words, simply because she’d been spelling them wrong for so long. Reviewing sight words using Sounding Out the Sight Words has helped her gain better recognition of the rules we’ve already learned associated with the phonograms and helped her recognize how to spell those tricky words using those same rules.

Why Use Letter Tiles to Practice Sight Words?

So, as much as I love phonics, there is a time and a place for learning sight words too. I especially like incorporating a hands-on activity that engages the child’s senses! First, a mention of the obvious: playing with letters helps solidify letter recognition. I’ve written about this when I offered the free alphabet letter tiles set.

At the next level, learning to read does require a level of memorization. If we had to stop and sound out each word every time we read, it would take forever! For those of us who have been reading for our lifetime, we don’t even realize that we have memorized the shape of letters. By reviewing tricky words using such a hands-on activity, it really does help solidify the spellings in our minds.

As I mentioned, my third-grader has struggled with the basic sight words the past year. She knew how to read them, but it was really good for her to review spelling separately so she could get more practice building the words herself. Doing so with the letter tiles has been a great solution.

Sight Word Templates

Get the sight word templates for letter tiles from my Shop or from TeachersPayTeachers.

More Letter Tile Learning Activities

Want more letter tile word-building fun? Check out my CVC activities sets!

More Learning to Read Posts

I enjoy writing about reading. Check out some of these posts for more ideas.

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