"Red Words" are what you might call sight words. These are common words that need to be memorized, because they often do not follow phonics rules, or follow advanced rules that are beyond the student's ability/knowledge at that grade level.
The procedure below, from the Orton-Gillingham method for teaching reading, is an effective, research-based way for your child to learn red words (sight words), spelling words, or any new vocabulary that needs to be memorized. Try it at home! It works! (Check out the Demo video below.) All the lists of red words that we use at school are available for you to access online here. Just find your child's current list, and you can print/copy to practice using the procedure below. Then for additional practice, your child can play games with the red words online! He/she can even practice other lists in advance!
Practicing Red Words (Sight Words)
1. Copy the word once on paper, checking to be sure the word is spelled correctly. Using a crayon, trace the word 3 times. Say the names of the letters as you trace. Say the word at the end each time. (Sandpaper or a craft screen may be placed underneath to produce textured letters.)
For longer words—chunk groups of letters to facilitate memory. Wednesday can be chunked—Wed-nes-day. (Research shows we remember best in chunks of not more than four; hence hyphens in phone #s and Social Security #s.)
2. Stand up and arm tap the word 3 times, naming each letter; then, slide while saying the word.
Left-handed: place left hand on right wrist, tap towards right shoulder
Right-handed: place right hand on left shoulder, tap towards left wrist
3. Trace the word with finger, naming each letter and saying the word at the end. Repeat 3 times. (If using a screen, it can then be placed over the word and this step repeated.)
4. Turn the paper over and write the word from memory. You may arm tap.
5. Check your word.
If correct: Write the word two more times; then in a sentence, underlining the Red Word.
If incorrect: Repeat Steps 2-5.
**Students should ONLY practice 2 to 5 red words at a time, using this procedure.
***The entire process does not need to be repeated to review red words previously learned in this way. Throughout the course of a week, simply review red words by arm tapping each red word one time. Students may need to look at their words while reviewing, but should progress to spelling from memory.