High frequency words are words that are commonly used in everyday language. These words may not be phonetically written out, which means children learn to recognize them by sight.
Because high frequency words are so commonly used, we know that it is important for children to learn them early on. By recognizing these words quickly, children can begin to read with speed and confidence.
If you are a parent, teacher, or tutor working with young children, there are several ways you can help children learn their sight words. Such as:
- by practicing with flashcards.
- using sight word worksheets.
- having the child(ren) pick out sight words from a page, book, or sentence.
- encouraging them to read simple sentences with high frequency words.
- using technology to assist with learning sight words.
Let’s dive into each one of these below and I will share what has worked for us in learning our sight words.
Full disclosure, there is a difference between high frequency words and Dolch sight words. For the sake of this article, I will be using these words interchangeably as high frequency words are often referred to as sight words.
Learning High Frequency Words with Flashcards
One way to practice sight words is by using flashcards. You can make your own or purchase a set from a store.
I’ve found that it’s helpful to have more than one set so you can mix up the order in which you study the words. This keeps things fresh and prevents boredom.
To use the flashcards, simply hold up each card and have your child read the word out loud. If they can read it correctly, move on to the next card.
If they struggle with a word, tell them the word, explain to them what the word means, and think of a sentence they could use it in. Then, have them try and repeat the word back to you.
If the child is just beginning to practice their sight words, start with just 3 words at a first. Then with each day, add 1 word and have them read back to you the previously learned sight words.
You can do this until the child knows all of their high frequency words.
Dolch Sight Words Using Worksheets
Another way to practice sight words is by using worksheets. You can find plenty of these online or make your own.
When using worksheets, I like to mix things up and switch between different activities each day. This helps keep them engaged and excited about learning sight words.
Some of my favorite worksheets have the following activities:
- Having the child trace the word.
- Allowing the child to write the word on their own.
- Giving the child the opportunity to color the word. This adds a bit of fun to the worksheet.
- Finding the Dolch sight word amongst other words they have or will come to learn.
- Reading the high frequency words in simple sentences.
Typically, worksheet work lasted no longer than 20-30 minutes. Of course, this depended on how many words we were practicing and how often we needed to take silly time breaks.
I would start with just a few high frequency words and then add just one or two words at a time.
Using Printed Material to Help with Sight Words
Another great way to help children learn their Dolch sight words is by using printed material, such as books and magazines.
As you read with your child, point out the sight words they should be looking for. Then, ask them to locate the word within a sentence.
For those children who are visual learners, you can have them highlight or underline the high frequency words as they come across them. Or use magazines to allow them to cut out the sight words they can find.
This is a great way to help them become more familiar with the words and their spelling.
Encourage Simple Sentence Reading
One of my favorite ways to help my little learners with their high frequency words is by encouraging them to read simple sentences. This will allow them to see how the words are used in context and improve their reading fluency.
You can either purchase pre-made material for this or create your own. I like to use sight words that have previously been learned combined with simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, such as ‘bat’.
An example of such a sentence would be:
The dog sat on the bed.
As noted below in the Kindergarten sight word list section, the words ‘the’, and ‘on’ are high frequency words.
What I love about this method is that reading a complete phrase builds children’s self-esteem and can entice them to read every day.
However, please keep in mind that sentence reading will work best for those that already have a grasp on letter sounds. As well as are starting to read simple CVC words.
If this method is used too soon, it could create frustrations for both you and the child you are teaching.
Using Technology to Learn High Frequency Words
Kids are curious people and technology isn’t going away any time soon. So, why not use it to help them learn their sight words?
Sure, you could probably find an app to help them, but I’m talking about something a little different here. Something that is so simple to implement into your everyday learning.
And that is by simply allowing them to use a computer to type their high frequency words into a Word doc or PowerPoint presentation. If you do not have these Microsoft products, you can also use Google Docs, which is free software.
They can play around with different colors and fonts to make it their own. Plus, they are getting valuable keyboarding practice in the process. Then, let them print out their creations so they see how it all works together.
By the way, if you have an iPad or another tablet device, this would work perfectly as well! Just use a note-taking app, such as the Notes app that comes pre-installed on an iPad.
How I Taught Dolch Sight Words
I started to realize that halfway through the year, my child was struggling with their Dolch sight words. Taking into consideration their learning style, I came up with a plan to get them on track.
We already had an iPad and accompanying pen, which the kids were always interested in. As they were still young, the iPad was something we did not give access to.
So, I was banking on the idea that if I gave some iPad time, they may enjoy doing their sight words. Sure, they are still sitting and working on worksheets, but I added an element of fun by allowing them to use a tablet.
And, it worked for our child!
From there, I customized the worksheets to meet the needs of the sight words we were working on. Then, uploaded them to the GoodNotes app, which is a note-taking app.
Every night, we would set aside time to work on the high frequency words. Typically, lasting 20 to 30 minutes.
And this is exactly how we started:
Night 1 – Using an iPad and a pen, practice 3 sight words using a worksheet for each word. After each worksheet, we would read 2-3 sentences with the sight word in them.
Night 2 – Practice the same three sight words as the night before, using a different worksheet layout. Review all three words afterward.
Night 3 – Introduce 3 new sight words with the same worksheets from Night 1. Once completed, practice reading a few sentences with the new sight words in them. In the end, we would review all high frequency words we have learned so far.
Night 4 – Practice the three sight words from last night’s lesson using the same worksheet layout as night two. Afterward, review all sight words we’ve covered so far at the conclusion.
Using this method, we were able to take our child from knowing just 6 sight words to over 30 words in a matter of weeks.
And they genuinely enjoyed the process. Even on nights that I just was not feeling it, they would remind me it was time to practice their Dolch sight words.
I’m not saying to go out and buy an iPad, if you don’t have one. But rather, to look around at what you do have and get creative. Also, take into consideration your child’s learning style and what will work best for them.
Kindergarten Sight Word List
Every Kindergarten sight word list is going to be dependent on the school that your child attends. With that said, generally, children are expected to learn 20 – 50 sight words in Kindergarten.
Below is a list of common sight words for Kindergarten:
all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes
Your child’s kindergarten sight word list may contain more or fewer sight words, depending on your school’s requirements. Children will also likely be expected to recognize their pre-primer Dolch sight words.
Learning sight words is an important milestone for Kindergarteners. Dolch sight words make up a large portion of the English language and provide a strong foundation for future reading success.
If you are concerned that your child is not retaining their sight words, consider using some of the methods I’ve listed above. Remember to be creative and have fun! After all, learning should be enjoyable for both you and your child!
Do you have any other tips or tricks on how to teach high frequency words? Be sure to share them in the comments below! I would love to hear from you!