Montessori, sight words, puzzle words

4 Fun Sight Words Games To Further Reading Skills

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Montessori sight words for writing and reading (puzzle words)

You can introduce sight words to your child when she has a lot of experience writing words and phrases with the moveable alphabet and when she’s starting to decode and sound out words

I have learned from my experience in the Montessori classroom that once children have explored quite a bit with the moveable alphabet and they’re starting to write phrases, that is the magical moment when they are usually ready to explore sight words.

In my teacher training, these words were called “puzzle words,” or words you can’t sound out phonetically. They are words frequently used, seen in everyday life, and found in beginning reader books.

For example, my almost six-year-old daughter, Annie, has been exploring the Scholastic “Bob Books.” The last page of each book says “The End,” which she always recognizes and can read quickly with memorization. 

In this post, I will share the sight (puzzle) words lesson I learned from my training and four fun games you can play with the puzzle words. I’ll also share how it went with my daughter at home! 

In This Post

Why are learning sight words important for kids?

According to the Verywell Family article, Tips for Teaching Sight Words to Preschoolers,

"As a child moves through school, they will be expected to learn more sight words, building (or scaffolding) on the words he already knows."

The Verywell Family article also recommends incorporating writing and reading stories, games, and sensory play for our youngest readers to help them remember words with repetition. 

Another great article that talks about sight words is by Understood, called, Sight words: An evidence-based literacy strategy. According to the article,

"It’s especially important for these frequently used words to become sight words. Students can read with better fluency when they recognize these words right away."

As your child learns to decode more words phonetically, she will also be exposed to these high-frequency words. Your child needs to know them to help keep up with reading and writing. 

The Montessori sight or puzzle words help young children who are in the writing and reading phase to:

  • further reading skills
  • practice memorization skills for sight words
  • learn that there are some words that cannot be sounded out

How to do the Montessori sight words (puzzle words) lesson

You'll need

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
sight (puzzle) words

A tray or box containing 10-12 word cards of irregular spelling that cannot be phonetically sounded out.

Start with a collection of familiar and beginner words. Also, remember that you’ll want to choose words in your child’s vocabulary and the words she will likely meet at this stage.  

The following 40 words are a collection of what could be considered puzzle words, high-frequency words, or sight words. You will teach most of these words using the Montessori three-period lesson

Before doing the sight “puzzle” words lesson with your child, be sure to revisit my blog post about the three-period lesson

How To Increase Your Child’s Vocabulary: The 3-Period Lesson

 I created a printable with a collection of these 40 puzzle words:
montessori, sight words, puzzle words
  • the
  • was
  • to
  • for
  • I
  • who
  • from
  • you
  • said
  • about
  • she
  • would
  • were
  • all
  • like
  • some
  • of
  • a
  • he
  • with
  • are
  • be
  • what
  • do
  • how
  • many
  • could
  • their
  • saw
  • when
  • my
  • they
  • go
  • and
  • there
  • can
  • have
  • some
  • these
  • am

* If you would like to download the sight words (puzzle words) cards I made and the lesson plan PDF, sign up for the resources library below. If you’re already a subscriber, be sure to get the most recent password from my latest email. 

Step-by-step: sight (puzzle) words

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
basket with sight (puzzle) word cards

Invite your child to do the puzzle words activity with you. You can say to your child, “we can learn these words by remembering them.”

Place the basket of cards on a rug or table and sit on your child’s dominant side.

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
this says "the"

Select two new word cards from the box and present them to your child using the first two steps from the three-period lesson:

  1. “This says…”
  2. “Point to…”   
  3. “What does this say?”
Note: you can flip one card over one at a time to focus on the word you are naming if you want to, but this is your preference.
Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
"Point to the"

Next time you revisit this lesson, review known words using the third step of the three-period lesson.

  1. “This says…”
  2. “Point to…”   
  3. “What does this say?”
Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
"what does this say?"

Invite your child to continue the work or return it to the shelf.

Note: observe your child while doing the three-period lesson. Sometimes, your child will shout out the word if she already knows it, which is excellent! However, be sure to go slow and not force your child to say what the word is if she’s not ready yet. It takes some trial and error.

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
play memory with the sight (puzzle) words!

4 Games to try with sight words

1. Memory

A fun variation for working with the sight word cards is to play the memory game. Print out and make two copies of all the cards. 

I usually start with ten cards, but you can start with six or eight pairs or do 12 or 14 pairs. Follow the interests and needs of your child. 

To play the game, you flip over all the cards and mix them up without peeking at any of them. 


Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
find the match

Then, line up the cards evenly in rows and columns. Then, the player going first picks one card and flips it over to see what it is. Read it to your child, or she may know what it says already, and she’ll say it. 

Then, flip over another card, read it, and see if it matches the first card. If the card matches, you remove the pair of cards and keep them in front of you. If they don’t match, everyone must remember where those cards are. Flip them over again to hide the words. 

The next person has a turn by picking two cards. Read the words and see if they match. The game continues in this way until the players match all the cards. Everyone counts how many pairs they got at the end of the game to see who got the most.

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
find the other "to"

I have previously written about matching cards and playing the memory game. You can check it out at this blog post:

Essential Guide To Picture Matching Plus 4 Games to Boost Memory

If you have 2 sets of word cards made, you could also match the word cards like regular matching cards, instead of playing memory!

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
Keep playing until you find all of the matching cards

2. Bingo

Just like in my previous blog post playing word bingo, you can play bingo making your bingo boards and word cards using sight words.

You can make 3×3 or 5×5 bingo boards.

Check out my word bingo blog post here:

Try This Cute Reading Activity: Play A Secret Box Bingo Game

3. Scavenger hunt

Go on a scavenger hunt with your cards! Pick 5 to 10 pairs of sight word cards. You, the adult, or another child hides one set of cards around the room and keeps the other in your basket. 

Your child picks a word card from the basket. She goes around the room and finds that word card. Find all the pairs of word cards.  

You can play with more children and use more word cards. See who collects the most word cards! 

You could also play this game in multiple rooms or outdoors to make it more interesting.

If your child is practicing handwriting, she can write down the list of words and check them off as she finds the cards. 

4. Go Fish!

I loved the card game Go Fish when I was around five or six years old! You can play Go Fish with your two sets of sight word cards! 

Start with about two pairs of 20 words (40 cards total). You can use more or less depending on your preference and how many people are playing.

Shuffle or mix up the cards. Deal five cards for each player. The remaining cards go in a draw pile in the middle. 

Everyone looks at the cards in their hands without showing anyone. The game’s object is to get as many pairs of word cards as possible.

Player 1 will ask player 2, for example, “Do you have “was”?

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words
play Go Fish!

If player 2 has “was,” she will give it to player 1 and have the matching cards for “was.”  If player 2 does not have “was,” she will say, “Go fish.” Player 1 must pick a card from the pile of cards in the middle. 

You can continue this way until all the players make pairs of words.

You can play the “Go Fish” game using any specific rules you are used to and change it up the way you want to. 

You can make the cards more decorative or colorful or add fish images for the “Go Fish” theme. You could also create the cards in a vertical orientation like regular playing cards.  

Make it as fun, inviting, and creative as you can! 

Note: try playing the original Go Fish game with an actual Go Fish card deck first so your child gets the hang of how to play the game first. Doing this can help understand the game so that it’s less confusing. 

sight words, Montessori, puzzle words
I found the matching cards!

Concluding Thoughts about puzzle words

Annie enjoyed playing the memory game with the sight word cards the most! I was amazed at how quickly she could memorize the words she may not have been familiar with as we went through them.

The Go Fish game was a bit too complicated for her, with all the rules, so we will revisit this game in the future. Also, I think it could be helpful to play an original Go Fish card deck game to get the hang of the game before playing with the sight or puzzle word cards.

The key point about working with sight or puzzle words is that the children need to memorize them because we cannot decode them like phonetic words. To keep up with reading and writing, children need to learn sight words simultaneously while also sounding out other words. 

Also, when doing the sight word lessons with your child, tell them that we learn these words by remembering them or by memorizing them. It’s good to use that vocabulary with them.

Have you tried sight word games with your child? Leave a comment below! 

Montessori, sight words, puzzle words

More Montessori Resources

* If you would like to download the sight words (puzzle words) cards that I made, as well as the lesson plan PDF, sign up for the resources library below. If you’re already a subscriber, be sure to get the most recent password from my latest email. 

montessori, sight words, puzzle words
Montessori, sight words, puzzle words

23 thoughts on “4 Fun Sight Words Games To Further Reading Skills”

  1. I have never heard about sight words before, so thanks for introducing them to me. Love your explanation of when to introduce these to our kids.

  2. This blog post provides insightful guidance on introducing sight words, or “puzzle words,” to children who are beginning to decode and sound out words. Drawing from Montessori classroom experience, the author identifies the perfect moment for introducing these frequently used words. The personal anecdote about the author’s daughter recognizing words in “Bob Books” adds a relatable touch. The promise of sharing effective lessons and fun games makes this a valuable read for parents and educators aiming to enhance early reading skills in an engaging way.

  3. These all sound like really great ways to incorporate learning and entertainment. It’s not easy making learning fun for the little ones but these are great tips.

  4. These are some fantastic sight word games that are sure to enhance kids’ reading skills. Plus, they are fun also, love this.

  5. All four games are awesome!!! I’ve always opted for educational games for my kids, these are perfect! Thanks a lot.

  6. This was such a great and informative post! I remember playing all of these games when I was younger. It can be important to make learning fun for younger kids, thanks for sharing!

  7. I loved to do this sort of thing with my kids. It’s such a fun way to learn and kids enjoy it without realising they are learning which can help too. Such a lovely idea and easy to do at home.

  8. I’ve always thought it was really important to teach kids their sight words. Some of those games like Go Fish are so much fun too.

  9. Great article! The sight word games like memory, bingo, scavenger hunts, and Go Fish are excellent for making learning fun and effective. Thanks for sharing these creative ideas to help kids improve their reading skills!

  10. This seems like such a great idea for kids! I can see them having a blast with learning words this way.

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