If your kids see Dolch sight word books they might groan and walk away. These books aren’t loaded with colorful pictures and don’t have super-heroes or cartoon characters throughout the pages. But these “boring” books can be some of the most important books you get your preschooler and kindergartner.
What Are Sight Words?
Researchers and educators have been discovering how our children best learn to read. While there is no one single path that works for all kids, the general consensus is that kids who are taught “sight words” during preschool, kindergarten, and first grade will have higher reading skills.
- Sight words were originally promoted by Edward D. Dolch and included a list of 220 of the most frequently used words in children’s books that cannot necessarily be sounded out through conventional phonics.
- This popular list of 220 words became known as the Dolch List of Basic Sight Words.
- Sight words cannot easily be represented by pictures (such as is, if, am, as, do, be, you, it).
- In 1996 Dr. Fry expanded on the Dolch list and published a book called “Dr. Fry’s 1000 Instant Words: The Most Common Words for Teaching Reading, Writing and Spelling.” In his research Dr. Fry found that
- Just 25 words make up 1/3 of all published words.
- There are 100 words that comprise nearly ½ of all of the words published.
- Just 300 words account for 65% of all published material.
How Can I Teach Sight Words?
With these numbers and research provided by Dolch and Fry it is easy to see that sight words are important in the English language. By estimate, over half of every newspaper article, school book, and children’s bedtime story is composed of 300 sight words, and it would be challenging at best to have students write just one sentence without using several of these words. Given the importance of learning sight words, parents can be a catalyst for developing great reading skills by introducing their kids to sight words.
- Choose books for your preschooler and kindergartner that have fewer pictures. When kids have to focus on the words and not guess by clues, they learn these sight words more quickly. Here are just a few Dolch sight word books that focus on teaching these words. You can still provide colorful and whimsical story books, but just provide balance with sight word books.
- Don’t go overboard on phonics. Phonics are important, but they won’t help learn some of the most commonly used words. It goes against what we as parents and educators have been told – we think we need to hook our kids on phonics.However, phonetic rules won’t help students learn many of the sight words. Some of the top sight words include
- Make a homemade BINGO game with sight words – you call the word and kids have to find it on their cards.
- Go digital and download a sight word app for your kids.
- Make a set of sight word cards and play Go Fish with them – kids match pairs of sight word cards and when they set down their pairs they have to say the word.
- Give your child a printed story and a list of sight words. Have him scan the story and use a crayon to circle all of the matching sight words.
- Use the worksheets here to give your kids the sight words developed by Fry.
- Read this story to your kids – it contains all of the 220 Dolch sight words. See if you can spot which ones they are.
- Keep reading. Read with your kids, to your kids, and in front of your kids.
The Dolch and Fry books might seem boring, but only if you judge books by their covers. The stories within are fun, touching, humorous, and often