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Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation

Content: Direct Teaching


Heart words are quite simply those words we know by heart.

This means that we don’t have to spend time decoding them; we can retrieve them from our memories automatically. While this concept sounds a lot like sight words, heart words refer to a smaller set of words that we set out to teach to beginning readers. These are high-frequency words—words that appear most often in print and therefore are most critical when first learning to read. Teaching heart words can also be especially useful for words with irregular pronunciation. Check out this website and the videos at the bottom of the page that describe ways to help children with their heart words!                                                  https://www.reallygreatreading.com/heart-word-magic Heart Word Challenge! | Word challenge, Heart words, Sight words  kindergarten When teaching heart words, it’s important to note that most of them have only one irregular part. Stressing this point makes it clear to students that they can use their phonics knowledge to decode most parts of a troublesome word. Heart Words - What Are They and How Do We Teach Them? Take the word “said,” for example.
Direct Teaching is First
  • “Said” has three parts: “s,” “ai,” and “d.”
  • The first and third parts are regular, and most students will be able to decode these.
  • It’s only the middle part that’s particularly challenging. Point this out
  • Teach the “ai” letter-sound correspondence in “said” several times
  • Focus on learning just the one irregular part of the word by heart.
Practice Practice Practice is Next
  • Involve lots of practice of heart words.
  • Give lists of words to memorize and have kids do practice activities (Parapros can help!)
  • Play games, do flash cards and word lists.  Make heart word bingo and heart word rings.
  • Put them together to build sentences….


Teachers often create words walls or classroom sound walls for students. Parapros can help create and maintain this by offering to add words as they come up in classwork. They can display:
  •  new letter-sound correspondences
  • new words that students are learning
  • illustrate the relationship between phonemes and the different graphemes that represent them
  • point out the ways in which the mouth produces those sounds
  • post words relating to a topic in science or social studies as they get introduced
This can help with reading, word retrieval and spelling.

Word Wall Template Based on a Theme

Word Wall Template Based on a Theme


Many sight words can be self-taught, which means that each of us has our own personal collection of sight words. We’ve learned certain sight words through our jobs, hobbies, and everyday lives.

Portrait of farm worker holding sack full of apple fruit

 A farmer’s sight-word vocabulary might include irrigation, tractor, fertilize, & silage

Free photo female soccer, football player posing confident with ball isolated on white

A soccer player’s sight words might include goaltender, bye, offside, and penalty

Free photo social worker taking care of a senior woman

A person caring for elderly relatives might know the sight words respiratory, rehabilitation, ambulatory, and hospice

Our life experiences provide us with our own personal sets of sight words.

Module: Helping Students Read (Clone)

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