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Learn to Read: Sight Words

Sight words in rebus stories and activities
Beginning High Frequency Words


Definitions:
Sight Words are instantly recognizable and read without conscious effort. They include both high frequency and irregular words.
High Frequency Words are the words that are most common in the English language. High Frequency can also be irregular. Examples are: is, said, the, they.

Irregular Words are spelled irregularly. Irregular words can also be high frequency. Examples are: of, does, psychic, choir.

List of 41 most common unusually spelled words
Irregular words

Teaching icon Teaching/Learning Teaching icon 2


Explanation Video for Teacher

Map sounds to letters when learning words.

– What are the individual sounds that make up the word?
– How is each sound represented by letters?
See Mapping Sounds to letters here

Mapping sounds to letters for the word “they”

When many words are read automatically, fluency is developed and comprehension is boosted.

Teach Common sight words along with the skills in the phonics steps 1-10

Sight Words are words learners need to recognize instantly by sight (like identifying their own name).

It is important for beginning learners to start by learning a handful of the most common words.

Beginning High Frequency Words:  These are the first words learners need to know automatically. These are words that may or may not be irregular, but are so common we need to know them by sight. Say a word, figure out the individual sounds in the word, then map (connect) each sound to the letter(s) that represent it. See mapping example in teacher resources

Irregular Words:  Some of our oldest and most common words have changed through the centuries so the spelling and pronunciation no longer match (ie. said). These can be tricky since there are sounds being represented un unusual ways. However, the key is still to focus attention on the sounds in the word and what letters are representing them. For example the word “said” has 3 sounds /s/, /ĕ/, /d/. These sounds are represented by s ai d. It is unusual for ai to represent the /ĕ/ sound, but noticing how each sound is represented is key to remembering the word. See mapping example in teacher resources. Find irregular sight words here.


Book Shelf Practice Reading Book Shelf


KEY:
Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1K-1 Beginning
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-21-2 Growing
Pink Plus: intervention, challengeIntervention/Challenge
* A favorite!

Bundle: Additional various activities to practice a specific skill
Pack: Additional multiple versions of a specific activity to practice a specific skill

SIGHT WORD MATERIALS

We need to know common words, especially common “cheater” words, automatically by sight.  If we stopped to think about reading the word “the” every time we came to it, reading would be laborious and difficult, and comprehension will suffer.

Beginning Reader High Frequency Sight Words:

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-11. Beginning Sight Word Bundle 1 REBUS. These first 17 sight words are introduced in activity pages using pictures for some words so learners are able to read sentences. The bundle also includes reviews, word drills and a game. Do these in order as they build on each other.
The words are introduced in the bundle 1 in the following order:

  • the, in, is
  • on
  • it
  • will, go
  • I, he, she
  • not
  • and, can
  • had
  • his
  • of
  • but

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-12. Beginning Sight Word Bundle 2. Do these in order, as they build on each other. At the same time your learner moves to the third set of beginning sight words, they can also practice with the Dolch List 1 Bundle below. The Dolch bundles have some more challenging words your learner may need help with, but they will also feel successful with the sight words they have already learned!
The words are introduced in the bundle 2 in the following order:

  • he, she (review)
  • we, me
  • was
  • what
  • they
  • you
  • said
  • do
  • for
  • to
  • that

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-13. Beginning Sight Word Bundle 3. Do these in order, as they build on each other. Once your learner has mastered these, they are now ready to practice with the Dolch List 2 below. The Dolch bundles have some more challenging words your learner may need help with.
The words are introduced in the bundle 3 in the following order:

  • am, as
  • with
  • have
  • him, her
  • look
  • up, down
  • at, all
  • little
  • be, me, my
  • there
  • then
  • some
  • out
  • from
  • your

Dolch High Frequency Sight Words:

Becoming automatic with these builds fluency!

Dolch List Bundles include games, phrase lists, stories and Fluency Pyramids, in horizontal format (better for distance learning via computer screens).

Sight words in repeating pyramid
Pyramid Fluency Stories
Sight words in stories
Little Stories and Comics
Sight words in games
Games
Sight words in stories and lists
List and Story

Dolch Beginning Sight Words Videos

Dolch List 1 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 4 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 7 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 10 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 2 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 5 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 8 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 11 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 3 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 6 Bundle: words and introduction to activities
Dolch List 9 Bundle: words and introduction to activities

Mixed Sight Word Practice

  • Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1Use the flashcards to practice and then show one phrase at a time for learner to read.
  • Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1Add key words or pictures to the flashcards to make phrases like: “on the cap 🧢 “on the butterfly 🦋.” Or create “funny sentences” like: The cat 🐈‍⬛ is on the cap 🧢. The mom 👩🏽‍⚖️ in on the butterfly 🦋.

unusualJump

Irregular Sight Words and chunks (letter combinations):


Teacher icon Teacher Strategies

Mapping

Map Sounds to Letters

First map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map sounds to letters for sight words, how to study sight words

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /u/. Point out this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…
Open Syllable: Many common words are open syllables where there is one vowel and it can escape so it says it’s name like: she, me, he, I, go, no….

Be sure to provide the words at first! Practice on a beat:

3 Beats for new words:
Beat 1: Show Word
Beat 2: Teacher Says Word
Beat 3: Learner Says Word

2 Beats for known words:
Beat 1: Show Word
Beat 3: Learner Says Word

It is important to learn and practice sight words this way so students are not verbalizing incorrect answers while looking at the word, not talking over the teacher, and giving all students a beat of think time. Encourage students to hold their answer in their heads until it is time to answer on the beat (and not before!)

Strategies

Same as for Sounds and Chunks

  • Working on new words (or sounds) with flashcards (Work on about 90% known words/sounds and about 10% new words/sounds.  We need to keep practicing the known words for weeks and months so they become an automatic part of our long term memory.)
  • Ideas for introducing and practicing sight words
  • Flashing Words
  • Timing Students
  • Use spaced retrieval practice for memorizing. Use flashcards to have the learner “retrieve” the information. Practice for short periods of time and space them out! Practice a couple minutes many times each day rather than 15 minutes once a day. I used to have cards in the kitchen so my own kids could go through them quickly at meal and snack times. *Spaced retrieval has been proven to produce more long-lasting learning.
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