Best Ways to Teach Sight Words

heart words

Accelerate Mastery of Sight Words: We Call Them “Heart Words”! :

We call these “heart words” because we learn them by heart, and they let us write heart connecting sentences.

heart word classroom props
heart words teach kindergarten writing
heart word classroom props

How Do We Dramatically Increase Kindergarten Writing Proficiency?

Fluency with "Heart Word" sentences is the key! (7-pg PDF)

• Have high expectations
• Give children crystal-clear, achievable targets
• Make learning visible
• Involve Parents as Partners

Nellie Edge
kindergarten classroom word wall
kindergarten writing lesson
learn heart words
heart word lesson for kindergartners

Scroll down for glimpses of “heart word” sentence work:
One of our highest-impact kindergarten writing strategies.

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Use Multisensory Teaching and Learning: Embrace the Arts!

musicL-o-v-e Spells Lovemusic

Use fingerspelling and writing to make new words permanent and automatic: Writing teaches reading!

kindergarten writing

The word “love” is our anchor word. The “heart word” sentence, “I love you”, is practiced for mastery.

We simultaneously teach high-frequency “heart words” and kindergarten-friendly handwriting to build rapid recall and writing fluency.

All "Heart Word" props featured on this page are included with the Nellie Edge Online Seminar.

heart words

Preview a strategy from
Nellie Edge Online Seminar #3: Teaching High-Frequency Heart Words.

Seminar is organized into 6 chapters. Download chapter overview.

Chapter 1: Teach High-Frequency Words. Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read strategies: I love you.

Parents are Partners in Kindergarten Literacy: Multiplying Our Teaching Effectiveness

Share Songs, Anthology Pages, and Word/Fingerspelling Cards with Families

Teachers have permission to make copies of the 33 Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! CD songs and strategy pages for family literacy! Children proudly sing, sign, spell, write and read these words.

Listen to L-o-v-e-Spells-Love  (Download mp3)

Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! CD

Make Learning Visible: Create Crystal Clear Learning Targets

kindergarten classroom heart words posters

As soon as the child has learned all of the pink “heart words”, he gets to master the purple “heart words”! Reading and writing fluency is expected. Some children will master all four sets of words by December and be using their skills as prolific writers. Developmentally younger students may need more good first teaching with multisensory strategies.

Pink “Heart Words” Build Powerful Sentences:

Children practice quick writes of “heart word” sentences every morning.

At first they use a "heart word" sentence model. With repetition, the sentences become a part of long-term memory, and the writing muscle grows!

kindergarten handwriting lessons

Good First Writing Instruction Teaches Reading. Children Memorize Spelling Chants to Learn New Words: “the” and “the end”

Expect children to start writing “the end” on the last page of their personally authored little books: Give children authentic reasons to use new words.


Preview a strategy from
Nellie Edge Online Seminar #3.

Seminar is organized into 6 chapters. Download chapter overview.

Chapter 2: Writing "Heart Word" Sentences. Enjoy the rhythm of rhymes: t-h-e e-n-d: the end

Kindergarten Authors and Illustrators Love to Write Stories and Decorate Their End Pages

little books illustrated
little books illustrated
little books illustrated

Children Engage in Independent Word Work: Make a List of Your “Heart Words”

(Notice one student is working on pink “heart words” and the other is already working on purple)

Children Learn Words Through Authentic Book Making:

In the beginning of the year, their books will be titled "My Book" – of course!

little books

Listen to: M-y/ my rhymes with b-y/ by
(Song #16 from Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! CD)

Listen to: B – o – o – k Book!
(Song #17 from Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! CD)

Later in the year children learn to write titles that fit their independently written little books.

little book making in kindergarten

Children Learn to Draw and Make Books about Animals

Note: Dog Requires the Correct Counter-Clockwise “O”.  We simultaneously develop handwriting and high-frequency “heart words.”

writing lesson for kindergaratners
draw books about animals
make books about animals
draw books about animals tote
From “I Can Spell Cat” A Nellie Edge Read and Sing Big Book™
From “I Can Spell Cat” A Nellie Edge Read and Sing Big Book™

In September, We Teach Children to Label Drawings

music "This is My House, H-O-U-S-E" music

Preview a favorite "heart word" strategy from Nellie Edge Online Seminar #3

Chapter 4: Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! This is my house lesson.

Newly Taught “Heart Words” Go Up on the Word Wall

Words are magnetically backed so children can use them.


Here is an innovative automotive (steel) oil drip pan word wall. It hangs from a PVC frame with zip ties through holes drilled into corners.

abc phonics word wall chart

To save space for this traditional word wall, we cut apart the vertical ABC Phonics Chart.
See the  ABC Phonics page.

Learning is Engaging, Playful, and Memorable:

Take the “hard” out of remembering how to spell “ing”: sing, sign, fingerspell, and make a crown!

learn how to spell "ing"
fingerspelling lesson - King of "ing"
fingerspelling lesson - King of "ing"

Make These Powerful Practices Routine in Your Classroom

See how easy it is to study Nellie Edge Online Seminars...

  • Comprehensive step-by-step video tutorials
  • 33 Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! songs, anthology pages, and fingerspelling templates are Free with Online Seminar #3.
  • See seminar chapter overview

Learn more / Register Now

Prepare Children for Opinion Writing with Sentences:

Give them automaticity with the word "because":
Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read!

Fingerspell every other letter
Fingerspell every other letter
sight words
sight words
opinion writing with because
sight words
sight words
opinion writing with because

Writing Workshop is Where Kid Writers Grow. Children Learn There Are Two Types of Words:

1. Words they are expected to know “by heart”
2. Words that they listen to, stretch out, and write the sounds for

kindergarten children learn two types of words
kindergarten children learn two types of words

Writing Workshop is where teachers systematically develop phonics-based spelling and expect “heart words” to be spelled correctly.

Create a Culture that Nourishes Young Writers: Your Pictures and Words Tell a Story

Our high expectations for mastery of “heart word” sentences and phonics-based spelling within an expanded and comprehensive writing Workshop Model produce prolific kindergarten writers who proudly publish books!

Teaching High-Frequency "Heart Words": See FAQs


Do you want to dramatically accelerate your kindergartners' writing proficiency?

Fluency with "heart word" sentences is the key! ( 7-pg PDF)


Take a Master Class in Kindergarten Writing Strategies

Step-by-Step Online Video Tutorials + Classroom Resources

Nellie Edge teaches you essential skills designed from 30 years of experience. These proven early writing strategies keep learning active and authentic.

  • Three 1-hour video tutorials with practical content you can use right away
    • Multisensory ABC and Phonics Immersion
    • Kindergarten-Friendly Handwriting Matters!
    • Authentic Sight Word Work
  • Watch, study and review at your own pace
  • $159 of classroom resources ready to download

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High-Impact Strategies to Inspire Your Practice. Free Downloads!

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