Dr. Edward William Dolch first created the Dolch sight words list in 1936 and published them in 1948. This list of words was created by studying children’s book of that time. And then compiling the words that appeared most frequently.
The Dolch sight words consist of 220 “service” words and 95 nouns. Dr. Edward William Dolch does not place a high emphasis on the list of nouns. As nouns are going to be dependent on the subject matter a student is learning.
Words contained within these lists are considered “sight words” as they are expected to be known by sight. The idea was that children should memorize these words instead of using phonics to decode the words.
It is thought that by doing so, kids will read faster, gain confidence in reading and, ultimately, build fluency in language.
However, critics argue that most of the Dolch sight words can be learned through phonics lessons. And that teaching children to memorize lists of words can cause more harm than good.
While critics provide different options for learning sight words, one thing seems certain. Sight words or high frequency words serve as an important aspect of learning to read.
When to Teach Dolch Sight Words
These words are expected to be learned by the 3rd grade and are split into groups of 40+ words. Typically, schools and educators that use the Dolch sight words start incorporating these words in preschool or pre primer.
The list of words will continue until grade 3, in which children are expected to have mastered their Dolch sight words.
List of High Frequency Words
Below are the lists of Dolch sight words, separated by grade level.
PreK, Preschool, Pre Primer (40 words):
Kindergarten, Primer (52 words):
Grade 1 (41 words):
Grade 2 (46 words):
Grade 3 (41 words):
Nouns (95 words):
Free Dolch Flash Cards
Download a copy of the Dolch sight words to use with flashcards here: