Sight Words

Sight words, or high-frequency words, are commonly used words which students learn to recognize instantly “by sight” without decoding. Many of these words do not follow a spelling pattern, which can make them difficult to sound out and spell.

Sight words account for about 75 percent of the words in beginning readers’ print materials, so it’s important for children to learn the correct spelling. The ability to automatically recognize sight words allows beginning readers to identify many words in a text, and thus be able to concentrate on meaning and comprehension as they read without having to stop and decode every word. The use of sight words in context can greatly affect the meaning of a sentence and, in turn, the story itself.

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Repetition is key to sight word acquisition. Starting in kindergarten, young readers should be given multiple opportunities to read and write each new sight word. A variety of methods may be used to reinforce automatic recognition of sight words.

Repetitive reading of texts featuring targeted sight words.Close

Carefully pronounce the words while pointing to their written forms, or guide students to pronounce the words. When appropriate, underline the words where they appear in simple sentences.

Using flashcards.Close

It is important to focus on a few new words at a time. With practice, students will be able to identify each word instantly. Did you know VocabularySpellingCity’s FlashCards game reads each word aloud, and can be customized to include the definition, a sentence, and more? Words can also be printed in a flashcard layout from your Premium Membership account, to easily create paper flashcards.

Practice spelling sight words.Close

Have children write words and read them aloud several times using the Handwriting Practice activity, which also allows you to print spelling worksheets for writing practice in several type styles (Print, D’Nealian Manuscript, Cursive, and Sign Language).

Creating a word wall.Close

Add new words to the wall as they are introduced. Each day, students can chant or cheer the high-frequency words posted on the wall. Not only will repetitive glancing at the word reinforce it in the child’s memory; it also makes words easily accessible when discussing them in class or during independent writing activities.

Many teachers and curricula use the Dolch Word Lists or Fry’s Instant Words lists, or a combination of the two. Here are comparisons of Dolch and Fry word lists.

  • The top 100 Dolch words (when ranked by frequency) and the Fry 100 list comprise a total of 130 unique words with 70 words appearing on both lists.
  • All words on the Dolch 100 List appear on the Fry 1,000 Instant Word List.
  • Only nine words on the Fry 100 List are not on the Dolch List or the Dolch Noun List.
  • The nine words unique to the Fry 100 List are: each, more, number, other, part, people, than, way, and word.

View Common Core State Standards Related to Sight WordsClose

Common Core State Standards Related to Sight Words

Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).

Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Identify words with inconsistent but common spelling-sound correspondences.

Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.