How amazing! We have well over a half-million words in English, but half of everything we write and read from age 6 to 17 depends on the 100 most frequent words.
— Frank B. May in Teach Reading Creatively
What exactly are “sight words?” These are words that good readers may instantly recognize without having to “figure them out.” There are two reasons why sight words are an essential component of good reading: First of all, many of these words do not sound like their spellings might suggest, so “sounding them out” would be unproductive. Also, a good reader really can’t afford the time to dwell on too many words, or he may lose the speed and fluency necessary for determining the author’s message.
How should we decide which words to teach as sight words? Studies suggest that the most in our language, known as “high-frequency words” be the best place to start. Believe it or not, the 100 most common words actually make up about 50 percent of the material we read! The 25 most common words make up about -third of our written material (Fry, Kress, and Fountoukidis).
We can enable our students to greatly increase their reading efficiency when we teach them to read half or more of the words they encounter in a quick and automatic manner.
You can probably guess correctly at many of the most common words in our written language, such as: the, a, is, of, to, in, and, I, you, and that. You may also want to refer to lists assembled by Dolch or by Fry, Kress, and Fountoukidis
See Our Pages on High-Frequency Words:
Practice with Abstract Sight Words
More on Practice with Sight Words
Betsy B. Lee on Teaching Dolch Words
Dolch’s List of Basic Sight Words
High-Frequency Words: Classroom Activities
See Our Other Pages on Word Study and Phonics:
Working and Playing with Words
Songs that Teach High-Frequency Words
Big Words (5 and 6-Letter Sight Words)– Ron Brown
Four-Letter Sight Words– Ron Brown
Popcorn Words– Jack Hartmann
Read With Me: Sight Words– Ron Brown
They Start the Same– Ron Brown
Fry’s 300 Instant Sight Words
The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists
Fry, E., Kress, J., and Fountoukidis, D. Paramus, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Teach Reading Creatively: Reading and Writing as Communication (7th Edition)
May, Frank B.
Resources for Practice with Sight Words:
Systematic Sight Word Instruction for Reading Success: A 35-Week Program, Kimberly Bouquett, $62.82
Word Walls Activities, Dawn Campell, $11.04
Making Your Word Wall More Interactive: Grades 1-3, Trisha Callella, $10.96
Sight Word Readers Parent Pack: Learning the First 50 Sight Words Is a Snap!, Scholastic, $17.83
Sight Words (Flash Kids Flash Cards), Flash Kids Editors, $3.95
Sight Words Flash Cards (Brighter Child Flash Cards), Brighter Child, $2.99
Words They Need To Know: A Book Of K-3 Sight Word Activities, Sheron Brown, $16.95
I'm Going to Read® Workbook: Sight Words (I'm Going to Read® Series), Harriet Ziefert, $5.95
Success With Sight Words, Sara Throop, $12.99
100 Words Kids Need to Read by 1st Grade: Sight Word Practice to Build Strong Readers, Terry Cooper, $3.95
Scholastic Success with Sight Words, Karen Baicker, $5.99
Poems for Sight-Word Practice: With Month-by-Month Activities, Laureen Reynolds, $17.49
Bob Books Sight Words: Kindergarten, Lynn Maslen Kertell, $12.48
Making Word Walls Work: A Complete, Systematic Guide With Routines, Grade-Perfect Word Lists, and Reproducible Word Cards to Help All Children Master High-Frequency Words, Judy Lynch, $14.99
100 Write-and-Learn Sight Word Practice Pages: Engaging Reproducible Activity Pages That Help Kids Recognize, Write, and Really LEARN the Top 100 High-Frequency Words That are Key to Reading Success, Scholastic Teaching Resources, $9.66