Sight Words

Sight Words


I hope that everyone had a great May Long Weekend, despite the somewhat gloomy weather. At least this type of weather is great for curling up with a book at home!

What is a Sight Word?

For this post, I’d like to take a look at “sight words” or “high frequency” words. To quote from my favourite reading blog This Reading Mama (check her out, she has amazing ideas for home practice!):

“Simply put, sight words are the commonly used words in our language (the, of, have, two,etc).  Some of the common, high frequency sight words cannot be sounded and out and therefore need to be learned by sight as whole word (such as was, the, or of). While it is a great practice to help kids see that many sight words relate to phonics, sounding out the more phonetic sight words (and, red, can, up etc.) should not be a child’s first line of defense. Because these words are so common, knowing them by sight (within one second of seeing the word) is preferred to increase fluency and support reading comprehension.”

Got it. So what sight words should I practice at home?

The most common sight word lists that teachers pull from are the Dolch Word List and Fry’s High Frequency List. Your child’s teacher will be able to tell you what words are being focused on in class. Just ask them if you’re not sure! By focusing on words at school and at home, your child will have more success with retaining and applying the trickier sight words to reading and writing tasks.

Now I know why to practice sight words as whole words, and where to find them but how can I practice at home?

Great question! A few quick tips:

  • Keep it brief: 10 minutes a day of sight word practice is plenty. My motto is “quality over quantity”.
  • Keep it fun: there are many great sight word games out there. I’d recommend starting here for cheap and easy suggestions.
  • Keep in mind your child’s developmental stage of reading. With a young reader, it is good to only introduce one to two sight words at a time.  If you introduce more than one at a time, the words need to be visually different (for example: the/on do not look the same, whereas is/in are too similar in appearance).  When kids are first learning sight words, they can get them easily confused and having two or more words that are visually the same makes it all the more confusing to remember them.  As kids grow in their reading, 5-10 sight words might be more appropriate.  The general rule I follow is: if the words aren’t “sticking”, I’m going too fast for my child.

If you have any games or ideas you’ve used at home, please post below.

Thanks, and happy reading.

Miss I.



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