I always have said, if it’s not fun for me, then it’s not fun for my kinders. That was the whole reason I started using “Ball Words” to teach my kinders sight words years ago. That particular year I had a slew of boys and 4 girls. Sight words were boring and since my class was pretty high energy and even the girls were into games and sports, I slapped the first level of Dolch words on a picture of a baseball and told them that they were baseball words. If they could master all 20 words, they would be a ‘Baseball Champ,’ receive a certificate of recognition and get their name on the Baseball Word Champ poster.
I really didn’t think it would go much farther than that, but it did. They zipped through baseball words and wanted more . . . next was soccer . . . they mastered those . . . and then one more which was basketball. All of a sudden, instead of “resting” during rest time . . . they were snagging my ball words and practicing. I wasn’t getting ANY work done during their rest time because those darn kids had me too busy listening to ball words everyday.
Last year’s ball word posters.
It was fun and exciting and let me tell you the best part . . . they started encouraging and helping each other to pass ball levels. When one of their friends passed a level, they would ALL cheer.
Everyone loved the activities ( there are several games, an I-Spy, I-Spy Word bottles and more in each level) and everyone was working on their own level of readiness and finding success.
I could hear them even when they were working on writing refer to a word as a baseball word or a basketball word, so I started putting them up on the wall where they could refer to their spelling.
I knew I was on to something. I put a challenge down. If every single student could pass baseball (the first 20 Dolch words) I would throw a baseball party. It was a bit nerve wracking but they worked with each other and did it and the next level and the next and the next. That year, everyone in my class mastered at least 100 Dolch words but many went on to master all 220 and it’s been that way ever since.
I always assumed they would get passed a couple of levels and just poop out, but they never do. They keep plugging away through . . .
Baseball – Soccer – Football – Volleyball – Golf – Tennis – Bowling – Ping Pong – Hockey – Beach Ball 11 levels of Sports Balls. One for each level of Dolch Words.
(You can click on each individual word to see each packet above. They are also available at a discounted price bundled in Groups. Group 1: Top Bananas, Baseball, Soccer Group 2: Basketball, Football and Volleyball, Group 3 Golf, Tennis and Bowling, Group 4 Ping Pong, Hockey and Beach Balls
Since then, I’ve been able to develop some fun activities to go along with each level
|Ball word and Top Bananas I-Spy|
|Ball Words In a Bottle|
and I even started a Pre-Ball Word System for Letter Recognition called Top Bananas. I’m seeing my kinders moving right along. I have 17 Top Bananas to date. And just crowned my first two Baseball Champs.
I’m dying to get those last Top Bananas finished up (9 more to go) so we can have our Banana Split Celebration, but until then I’m scrambling to keep up with 26 kids that are wanting to practice. The good news is I have really great data on all them and can really see growth daily.
Oh don’t worry, I have a system for keeping those words fresh after mastering them too . . . Speedster Readers is all about fluency sentences. (Got to keep them on their toes ya know.) But I’ll save that one for another day. For now it’s all about the ball words. Yes, it’s alot of work, but my results have been great and more importantly, my kids love learning this way so it’s all worth it.
How do you make learning sight words fun? I’d love to hear how. Until then, I’m off print off some certificates for my new Top Bananas from Friday. Have a great weekend.
Lucky Laura says
I am new to kindergarten this year and stumbled upon your blog this summer. I LOVE your Ball words and have purchased them from your TPT store. Not only do I love them but so do my kids AND their parents. I only have two more kids to get all my kids to be Top Bananas…and I have 3 kids already on VOLLEYBALL words! They absolutely LOVE practicing their words and I love their enthusiasm. They love finding Ball Words in the books we are reading and pointing them out to me! I use Daily 5 and during word work I incorporate ways for them to practice their Ball Words. It has been such a success! THANK YOU!!!
Margaret Vaughan says
What great resources! Thank you so much for sharing!
Deb Thomas says
Awesome activities and I love the Baseball Theme! I just Boo’d you! he he he…
OH my heavens!!!! I LOVE this idea! my rest time is becoming more restless than rest and what a FANTASTIC way to have them DO something during that time! Going to investigate TpT now 🙂
Charlie Danella says
I love the way you made the Dolch words exciting to students and provide visual points where they can see their progress. I tend to have 3 to 4x’s more boys in my class then girls and I think they would all love this.I bow down to Marsha’s Ball Theory Hee hee
Mrs. Mattila's Class says
I just have to tell you that my class is totally into ball words. This is my first year using it and it has exceeded my expectations! I have students asking me as they walk in if I can check their ball words. We are THIS close to a baseball party, and have several working on as high as golf words! It is amazing! Dolch word mastery is leading to my students reading at higher levels than ever before. I knew my students needed more than the 40 sight words my reading series teaches, and this is the answer!
I was excited to move to Kindergarten next year, and then I saw your blog. This blog is a GOLDMINE! And it’s making me even MORE excited to be working with Kinders because of all your fabulous ideas. I am so thankful for your sharing! Keep doing what you do, because you are absolutely amazing! Now, I’m off to TPT to add all your stuff to my wishlist and decide what to make first!
Kristen, you made my night. Thanks so much for your kind words. It’s my greatest goal to help other teachers. I love teaching, and I want everyone who has the honor of teaching kindergarten to love it, too. Please let me know if you have any questions along the way.
I love this idea so much! I am really interested in trying this in my classroom this year. I was wondering how you introduce the words? In my prior years teaching Kindergarten, we always did 1 or 2 words of the week that were introduced whole group and practiced through different songs and activities. Do you still do things like that? I guess I’m just wondering how you get started with the program and how do you introduce the words?
I start out introducing 2 words a week, but there will be students that quickly surpass the class. That’s ok. They go at their own pace. I only introduce those two words whole group for a brief amount of time and they really get the meat of their practice on sight words when they go to stations. Thanks for asking and let me know if there is anything else I can help you with or if you have any questions.
I LOVE your fabulous resources and this system is amazing! I am currently sitting here printing the last 3 sets (9, 10, 11) and have to say this big stack of ball words and ball word activities sitting next to me makes me happy. I currently teach 2nd grade and I’m getting these ready for their word work center this upcoming 2016-2017 school year. I noticed last year (which was also my first year teaching 2nd), that a lot of my kids struggled to read at the beginning of the year and it was through a lot of decoding that they really started to excel. However, I did still have quite a few that even with great decoding skills struggled on those basic sight words. I can’t wait to use this system to really help support their fluency by giving them that basic sight word recognition that they are missing, fill in those gaps, and help them feel like they are playing when really they are learning so much! This combined with your new editable sight word bundle are going to create one rockin’ and rollin’ word work center in my classroom next year. I just wanted to say thank you so much for what you do, sharing your love of teaching and learning with other teachers such as myself, and giving us tools to be successful in helping to reach every learner in our classroom! It is because of teachers like you that I can feel confident in my profession, have an example of the type of teacher I hope to aspire to, and know that it is possible to continue to be passionate about teaching even after doing it for several years. I will be going into my third year teaching, and I hope to be as great at it some day as you are. Thank you so much!
Awwww you made my night. Thanks so much Liz. I really needed that.