Tool for the Field: Helping Students Make Individual Word Banks


This field tool is designed for use in having individual students create sight-word cards that can be added to a binder ring that holds the sight words they have learned and will use in reading and writing.  Adding words to their word bank “key rings” is likely to be a rewarding experience for many students, and having his or her own personal word bank key ring to refer to can help students learn how to spell and use the words in class assignments.


Step 1.  Gather the following materials:

  • Binder rings (Key rings or metal shower curtain rings could be used instead.)
  • Index cards (Manila folders or heavy card stock can be cut into sight-word cards if index cards aren’t available.)
  • Hole punch (for punching hole in corner of each sight-word card)
  • Colored markers, crayons, or colored pencils for writing sight-word on each card
  • Magazines with pictures that can be cut out and pasted onto the backs of sight-word cards that lend themselves to depiction, for example, the word “eight” could have a picture of an octopus with its eight legs numbered 1 through 8.
  • Scissors
  • Glue or paste

Step 2. As students learns sight words, each student makes a sight-word card with the printed word on one side and a drawn or cut-out picture illustrating the word on the other side of the card. Assistance should be provided if the student needs help with writing, drawing, or cutting and pasting.

Step 3. Celebrate (at least in some small way) the student’s accomplishment of adding a word to the card. Perhaps you can use the word in a sentence of praise, such as “You’ve already learned the word ‘already’!” Or perhaps you can count the number of cards a student has accumulated in his or her word bank.

Step 4. (Follow-Up). To help students retain the ability to recognize and read the words in their word banks, give them ways to use the words, such as circling them in a reading passage or writing them in a sentence or poem they make up.

Extension: Word bank rings can also be used to reinforce vocabulary in content areas by making cards for difficult vocabulary words students have learned or are learning in science, math, or social studies, for example.