15+ Ridiculously Easy Printables to teach Sight Words for ESL Students

Teachers will LOVE these fun and easy to prep activities to teach sight words for ESL students. ESL kids will build reading fluency by learning to recognise common sight words. 

sight words for esl students

Help kids practice developing their sight word fluency by using some common and fun games and activities to give them an opportunity to read their sight words.

Other than reading books and literature, ESL kids need more precise practice. These activities will be a HIT with your ESL learners!

What are sight words?

ESL Sight Words is a set of words that are used in English language. These words are the most common and easiest to learn for children who are learning English as a second language.

ESL Sight Words can be used by children to recognize words, spell them, read them, and use them in sentences.

There is not yet a good way to teach ESL Sight Words. Some teachers have created their own methods of teaching ESL Sight Words but they have not been proven to work well.


FREE Printable Picture Sight Word Puzzles + ways to engage kids with learning their sight words for 5 minutes everyday.

What are the most common sight words to teach English language Learners?

The following is a list of the top 100 words that are most often used in the English language.

a, about, all, am, an, and, are, as, at, be, been, but, by, called, can, come, could, day, did, do, down, each, find, first, for, from, get, go, had, has, have, he, her, him, his, how, I, if, in, into, is, it, its, like, long, look, made, make, many, may, more, my, no, not, now, number, of, on, one, or, other, out, part, people, said, see, she, so, some, than, that, the, their, them, then, there, these, they, this, time, to, two, up, use, was, water, way, we, were, what, when, which, who, will, with, words, would, write, you, your

Best resources and book to teach sight word vocabulary:

What are some strategies to teach sight words to ELLs?

The first step in learning to read is to learn the alphabet and the letter sounds. The next step is to learn the sight words. Sight words are the most common words in English that do not follow any particular pattern and are not usually spelled with more than one letter. They include: I, of, a, you, it, your, and so on.F

  1. Use lots of sentences with visuals in them like pictures and symbols. ESL students aren’t able to understand a lot of vocabulary when they first begin learning the language. Using lots of visuals helps ELL students connect the words to the pictures and if it’s a longer sentence, this will help them understand the meaning without having to scramble for a dictionary to find the meaning.
sight words for esl students pdf
Building Sight Word and Sentence fluency From Creatively Adapted – Ginger Joyce
  1. Use quality non-fiction and fiction readers and emergent readers. I LOVE using these super easy low density books with my ESL students. Not only do they enjoy the minimalist graphics and words on the page, but they will also love actually reading the simple sentences because they’d feel successful at it. The more they feel like they can read, the more they will gain from the emergent readers.
  2. Teach sight words in context. Meaning, have students actually read the word in a sentence, like in these super fun sentence posters. I have them read the sentence, underline or highlight the word then color their picture. Or you could also staple the sentence posters together and have the students read them daily.

How to teach sight words ESL easily as a parent?

I get this question often and I thought I’d dedicate a section on it in specific. First and foremost, be sure that you are including LOTS and LOTS of readers and books with your kids from a really young age.

My favorite beginning readers books for ESL:

Sight words are the most common words in the English language. They are used for reading and writing. Sight words are learned by memorization, not by understanding their meaning or spelling. Sight words are taught in order from easiest to hardest, so it is important to start with the easier ones first and move on to the harder ones as they progress in school. The following steps will help teach sight words easily:

1) Make sure that your child has a good understanding of phonics before starting with sight word memorization

2) Teach them a few new sight words each day

3) Make sure they practice reading and writing them

4) Have them read out loud what they have written

What if my child struggles to read sight words?

Remember that each child will learn at their own pace, there’s no point in trying to force things, the child will eventually learn if you give them ample opportunities to learn. The following are a few tips to help your child learn to read.

1) Be patient and supportive.

2) Read with your child every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

3) Encourage your child to read aloud with you, or in front of friends and family.

4) Make reading fun by turning reading into a game or listening to stories on tape or CD.

5) Teach children the sounds that letters make before teaching them how to put letters together to form words.

6) Teach sight words (words that are often used in everyday conversation). For example: I, have, see, and what.

I personally like to include sight word games, these are my favorite games:

Worksheets to Teach Sight Words for ESL Students

  1. Help students read and understand their sight words by using these fun and engaging high frequency words posters. They can be used in so many ways, place each High Frequency Words Poster in small groups and have the kids read and work on the word mats. Download your FREE copy from the post or buy the full bundle below.

2. Crazy Roads Sight Word Game – from 123 Homeschool 4 Me. A fun and easy to prep game to help ESL kids recognise and read their sight words. Read all about it from the post here!

Fun free printable game for esl kids to learn sight words

ESL Sight Words Games are Fun

3. FREE Sight Word Tab Printable Booklets. These sight word booklets work just like a normal tab reader would. Just print two pages on one slide and cut in half. It’s a great way to teach esl sight words. Hand them out to the students and let them work on these readers. They kept my students on their toes as they made sure that the tabs ‘fit’ underneath each other. First is read, then trace, write and finally independently write the word without looking. Grab your copy from the POST RIGHT HERE or click on the image below.

esl sight words

4. 51 Sight Words Games and Activities. Here’s a list of the most exciting sight word games in one POST! These hands-on activities promote sight word recognition, reading and writing for esl students. Read all about them HERE or click on the image below!

esl sight words worksheets

5. The ultimate pirate game to engage ESL kids with sight words! These mats will have the kids working out the secret codes (and developing their beginning sounds skills) while completing each ‘sight word treasure map’. Read all about how you can set it up and download your FREE Pirate Secret Sight Word Mats here.

6. Camping Themed Sight Word Spin and Color from Totschooling. Kindergarten kids will LOVE this set of fun Camping themed spin and color sight word game! They will use a pencil to spin the words on the raccoon spinner, read the word, then color the worksheet. They will practice reading and identifying some common kindergarten sight words (plus blank sheet included) using a fun camping theme. Read all about it HERE or by clicking on the image below!

7. Sight Word Roll, Read and Trace. These fun and hands-on printables will have your ESL kids reading and writing their ESL sight words! The idea is that students race with a partner (preferably for more fun) and they each get a die, roll and trace the word corresponding to the number. If they don’t get of the numbers showing then they keep rolling till they do! They also keep doing this until they trace/color all the words. Grab your set March Themed Sight Word Roll & Color here or click on the image below!

The Best Activities to Teach ESL Sight Words

8. FREE common sight words bingo from 123 Homeschool 4 Me. These simple and low prep sight word games are so much fun for ESL students. Need a way to engage kids? These bingo printables will help promote reading sight words for ESL students. Grab your set here or by clicking on the image below!

Sight Word games - free printable common sight words BINGO

9. Battle for Sight Words Game from Liz’s Early Learning Spot. This game will have kids reading and identifying their sight words by playing a sight word treasure hunt game. What a great way to get ESL kids engaged in learning their sight words. Read all about how you can set this up and download your copy HERE.

Your kids will love to battle their friends for these sight words. Great for number sense, too. (Liz's Early Learning Spot)

10. Teaching Sight Words to ESL Students: Reading sight words are a crucial component of any K-2 curriculum plan, but when it comes to teaching ESL kids the fundamentals that can be puzzling! This post will outline some easy ways to teach sight words to ESL students without overwhelming them. Read about 7+ sight word ESL activities HERE or click on the image below.

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