Reading Racetrack Sight Word Activity
Sight Word Instructional Strategy
Words that can be recognized automatically, or on sight, are known as sight words. This
type of word recognition enables children to devote their energy to the critical skill of
decoding words that are more difficult.
Teaching children sight words involves brief (less than 10 minutes per session) sessions
that include immediate and specific feedback, and practice with validated research-based
sight word lists.
Word Lists
One of the most popular research-based sight word lists is Edward Dolch’s (1936) words
list. Words from this list can be used in the exercise below.
Click here to access the Dolch words (via the United States Department of
Reading Racetrack Instructions
This research-based sight word instructional strategy (Rinalidi, Sells, & McLaughlin, 1997;
Sullivan, Konrad, Joseph, & Luu, 2013) has been modified for implementation in peer
pairs and small groups.
Preparation Steps
1. Using words from one of the lists described above, identify 28 sight words a child is
unable to read with automaticity but that previously have been introduced.
2. Write each sight word on a notecard.
3. Prepare five copies of the reading racetrack included below.
4. Assign seven sight words to each of four racetracks. The fifth racetrack is a review
5. On one racetrack, write the first set of seven words in each cell. The selected
seven words will appear four times in random order to fill the 28 cells of the
racetrack. Repeat this with three other racetracks, using seven different words
from the list of 28 total words on each racetrack until all words have been used.
6. On the fifth or review racetrack, write all 28 words in each of the 28 cells of the
racetrack in random order. Each word should appear one time.
Lesson Steps
1. Begin with a review of the seven sight words featured on the racetrack. Present
each sight word on a notecard and say, “This word is _____. Read the word.”
Provide feedback based on the children’s responses. If the child reads the word
correctly, say, “Yes, the word is _____.” If the child reads the word incorrectly, say,
“This word is _____. Try reading it again. What is the word?”
2. After teaching all of the seven sight words in this manner, introduce the reading
racetrack featuring the same sight words. Working in pairs, the first child selects a
starting point on the racetrack. The peer starts a timer and directs the first student
to read as many sight words as she can in 1 minute. If a reader comes to a word
she does not know during the 1-minute timing, the peer prompts the reader to
move to the next word. The peer records the number of sight words the partner
read correctly and incorrectly in 1-minute. Then, the partners switch roles.
3. After each partner has had a turn reading the words on the racetrack, collect the
record sheets and form small groups of children who have made similar errors.
Working with one small group at a time, use a direct instruction procedure called
“model, lead, test, and retest” to teach the children the words they read incorrectly.
For example, while pointing to a word on the reading racetrack, say, “This word is
_____. What is the word?” Prompt the children to read the word correctly a few
times, sometimes in unison and sometimes individually.
4. While you work with another small group, the children who just reviewed their
errors return to working in pairs. They complete three additional 1-minute timings
of the same reading racetrack. Each child graphs his/her highest number of sight
words read correctly across all 1-minute timings.
Dolch, E. W. (1936). A basic sight vocabulary. The Elementary School Journal, 36, 456-
460. doi:10.1086/457353
Rinaldi, L., Sells, D., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1997). The effect of reading racetracks on the
sight word acquisition and fluency of elementary students. Journal of Behavioral
Education, 7, 219-233. doi:10.1023/A:1022845209417
Sullivan, M., Konrad, M., Joseph, L. M., & Luu, K. C. (2013). A comparison of two sight
word reading fluency drill formats. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for
Children and Youth, 57, 102-110. doi:10.1080/1045988x.2012.674575
Reading Racetrack
1 2
5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28
Reading Racetrack Score Sheet
Number of Words Read
Number of Words Read
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
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