Tips for Teaching Preschoolers High-Frequency Words

Drill and memorization have no place with preschoolers.

We sometimes underestimate what very young children can pick up on. While learning is important, free play is equally important to our little learners. Not only that, but many kids learn, without even knowing it, through free play.

Tips for Exposing Your Preschoolers to High-Frequency Words in a Kid-Friendly Way

1. Make a sight word display at their eye level using a corkboard or a pocket chart.

2. Display SnapWords®  sight words cards in this area and then leave them there like you would a decoration.


3. Be sure to locate the display in an area where the preschoolers play, and they will be drawn naturally to that area to look at the colorful words and images.

4. Follow their lead. If they point to a word, tell them what it is. If they walk away and play, let them go. If they ask about another word, tell them that word and comment on what is going on in the picture.


5. Rearrange the words from time to time so that they are not always in the same spot. Group them in pairs so that a phrase is formed such as “come here” or “sit down.” This will make an impression on the children that words actually mean something. You don’t have to teach this concept, the children will simply take in this information on their own.

6. Make coloring materials available to the preschoolers so they can draw pictures of their favorite words if they want.

7.  Numbers & Colors are a great place to start with preschoolers. Lay out the cards and let the child match objects to their colors or let them count the correct number of objects they have in front of them.

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9. When you eat a meal, ask children to identify which color words are on their plates, or, have them choose three color cards and make up a funny lunch with foods in their chosen colors. Let them color their funny lunch on a paper plate that has not been plastic- or wax-coated.

What To Do When Learning Doesn’t Stick

We’ve all encountered children who just couldn’t seem to remember what we taught them – or who seemed unable to learn to begin with. Instead of labeling the child unable to learn, what can you do to help learning stick?


DO take the time to find out how the child remembers most easily.

DO ask persist in asking questions until he or she begins to really pay attention to how they remember things they do remember. Ask: “How did you remember that?” “What kinds of things are easy for you to remember?” or “How did you remember this just now?”

DO look at the lesson you are teaching and scrutinize it carefully

    • Is it predominantly using symbols? (Example, learning to spell words, learning math facts, learning math procedures? Learning history facts? Phonics rules, etc.)
    • Is it all verbal? In other words, are you teaching it orally? (You talking; him/her listening). Is he/she reading about it in a book?
    • Are there ANY hooks for learning, meaning, and remembering at all? Or is it you teach while he or she takes notes or watches or reads about it?
    • Is this the routine: You present the material, kids listen (take notes, read about it in the book) you assign homework, they do homework (or not), you ask them to review, then you test them.

If this pretty much sounds familiar, let’s just take a moment to see how learning happens when it happens naturally.

Here’s how learning happens in the brain.

All learning begins with sensory input, but not all input is created equal. Teaching verbally, listening, reading, and memorizing are only stored in the brain short term. The brain’s of our little tots are not wired to store these types of experiences in long term memory without activating other senses and parts of the brain.


How can you activate different parts of the brain?

Smell is closely related to context  and memory that it would be worthwhile and fun to experiment using scent on purpose while learning something boring or difficult. Then when you want to know what your child remembers, diffuse that scent again and see what happens.

Story is one of the most influential ways to help children learn and remember. This is because when you tell a story with learning concepts in it, the child’s brain is triggered in all the places it would be if he or she were in the story experiencing the action, seeing the sights, moving, or feeling emotions. Stories are a powerful way to communicate ideas that otherwise can be boring and hard to understand.

Metaphor is an extremely effective tool. Much like stories, they show rather than tell. Choose something that is very well known to your child, something he or she can see, and use that to explain a new abstract concept that is loosely related. For example, network of roads is like the circulatory system.

Color and Pattern and anything else that is visual such as pictures are captured instantly in the brain. What a child sees he or she will remember far more readily and permanently than what they hear. Show, don’t tell.


Location is also a great way to secure learning and make it stick. Don’t do all your teaching with students sitting in the same exact spot for every lesson. Instead try mixing it up. How many times have you been trying to remember something and you think to yourself, “I remember I was standing right next to the front door, I was holding my cell phone in my hand, and my sister called me…” and with any luck as you remember those connected events, the idea you were trying to recall comes back to you.

Context is important for a child. Never give them an solitary detail and ask him or her to just remember it. Build it into its environment, show how it is part of a pattern. Rather than memorize something from a book, go to the source as often as possible and give hands-on experience.

Belief is the strongest factor in learning. Your belief in a child and his/her belief in themselves. For this reason, it is crucial you use your best teaching tools and that you learn as quickly as possible what your child’s learning strengths are. There is no question about whether they can or cannot learn. The child will have success as long as you believe in and respect their individual learning style. 

3 Reasons Why You Should Teach Sight Words to Preschoolers

Why teach sight words to preschoolers? ddd

1. You will prevent possible failure: By taking action early, it is likely that you will be able to create a path of success for a child and therefore prevent any possible failure, labeling, and confidence loss. Some might ask, “But what if my child would have done fine without early intervention?” However, the problem is that we do not know for sure which child is going to struggle, so to be sure that they don’t, we introduce words early in developmentally appropriate ways before formal schooling beings.

2. You will ensure success by teaching to their strengths: If you teach sight words to preschoolers using methods and materials that make use of their primary ways of learning, you will provide them with a background that will ready the child for any kindergarten requirement. At this age, it is important to teach using body movement and visuals since many tots cannot memorize plain words. Our SnapWords® sight words with pictures, images and body movement, learning will seem like play for young children.


3. You will provide relevance for what they learn in kindergarten: Using SnapWords®sight words with pictures, you will be able to reach the beginners who struggle with the little details of learning to read, such as letter names and sounds. Many children learn best from whole to part and without that, they get lost in the details. By providing a child with an arsenal of words with meaning, they will “get” what reading is! The child will understand from the beginning that reading is not just sounds put together, but instead is extracting meaning from those words.

4 Key Elements That Help Preschoolers Connect With Learning

Recent years haveelements1 brought an increased emphasis on teaching school content at a younger and younger age. While this is not the primary work of little ones, there are great developmentally appropriate ways to introduce letters, sounds, and numbers to toddlers. The really young learn most readily through pictures, stories, music, games, and a whole lot of hands-on play.

Toddlers learn best in a natural environment that allows him or her to absorb information without even realizing they are learning. Specific elements that work well when teaching toddlers are:

1. Song
If you want your little tot to learn a specific procedure, put it to music. For example singing “This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands. This is the way we wash our hands so early in the morning.” This melody works great for replacing “wash our hands” with what ever you are currently teaching. Encourage the child to mimic what you are doing while singing the song, this way you are modeling the correct way to do a particular job, and your child will be practicing his or her skills as you sing.

2. Visuals
We’ve all heard that a picture is worth 1,000 words and this holds true when teaching your little ones. Pictures and images make use of visual memory where the picture and all its details are stored intact. Memorable images often can be recalled later in life in minute detail, carrying with them any learning concepts that were embedded in them. For even more learning, a visual with a song or story can double the effectiveness of your teaching.

3. Story
Children are born storytellers, and think of their lives in terms of story. The story line or plot is the glue that holds all the elements of the story together. If you want your toddler to remember a sequence of events or steps in a procedure, make up a story that links all the pieces together.Combining a story line with images can make for an even more powerful learning experience.

4. Touch
Tots learn about the world through their senses—sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. They pick up cues about natural characteristics of objects in their world; they learn about things that are soft or hard, heavy or light, smooth or rough, hot or cold, and sweet or sour. They take in so much that becomes basis for more learning later in life. The more full-bodied the sensory background, the wider the store of previous knowledge and comprehension the child will bring to school.


Now that you know some of the elements that help little tots connect with learning, what learning tools will help this specific age group use these elements?