Between Dolch and Fry words there are over 1000 words your child needs to recognize on sight. Here are the most commonly used sight words in first grade and how you can help your child learn them by heart.

By Fiona Tapp
October 23, 2019
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Reading is a complex skill that requires lots of little processes coming together to make sense from a bunch of symbols on the page. And as your child begins to master age-appropriate books in first grade, they'll be using a lot of different strategies to read.

Much of the work of reading is spent decoding words by segmenting into sounds then blending them together to make words. For instance, the way the word "cat" can be separated into the sounds c, a, and t, and sounded out to make the word "cat." However, some words cannot be easily sounded out, and since they often appear in text, it helps for kids to be able to recognize them with just one look. Enter the concept of sight words.

Sight words need to be recognized at a glance, and parents can help kids to learn these important words in a number of ways. Here's what they're all about, plus ways you can help your first grader master them.

Dolch Words

The most common sight words are available in lists compiled by educational experts more than 70 years ago. Dr. Edward Dolch produced his word list for kids aged PreK through to Grade 3. His list is still used in schools today and includes over 200 words.

Fry Words

Dr. Edward Fry expanded on these word lists for grades 1-10 developing a bank of the 1,000 most commonly used words. Dolch words are the ones your child will encounter first as they learn to read and include words like: and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here. Fry words are the expanded bank of keywords that children learn as they go into the third grade and beyond, they include: almost, along, always, began, between.

You can find Dolch word lists here and Fry word lists here.

Grade 1 Sight Words List

Dolch's list of first grade sight words includes 41 words building on those learned in Kindergarten. Here they are:

  • After
  • Again
  • An
  • Any
  • As
  • Ask
  • By
  • Could
  • Every
  • Fly
  • From
  • Give
  • Going
  • Had
  • Has
  • Her
  • Him
  • His
  • How
  • Just
  • Know
  • Let
  • Live
  • May
  • Of
  • Old
  • Once
  • Open
  • Over
  • Put
  • Round
  • Some
  • Stop
  • Take
  • Thank
  • Them
  • Then
  • Think
  • Walk
  • Were
  • When

How to Practice Sight Words at Home

Learning sight words is an important part of developing early reading skills, but it can seem a little dull to children. Incorporate these games and fun activities as well as simply enjoying books together to help keep things interesting. With this practice, your child will soon be reading the goodnight story to you!

Write 5-7 sight words on sticky notes and put them up around the house

Quiz your child on these words throughout the day. You can also keep kids active at the same time by asking them to jog/skip/jump when they get to particular words. Feel free to swap the words over as your child masters them, but be sure to circle back and consolidate their knowledge.

Play the question game

Kids love to answer questions, so write these two sight words on their own cards: "when" and "how." Then let your child ask you questions so long as they can select and read aloud the right question word.

Play Go Fish

Start with ten sight words at a time and write them out twice on cards to make a pair. Play Go Fish by turning one card over at a time and trying to match the sight word. Make sure your child reads the word aloud as well as matching them by sight.

Make flashcards

Create flashcards and test your child on them. Make it a game by using a timer and moving on to a new card if your child gets frustrated. Repeat the same set of words to give your child confidence through achievement before moving on o a new set.

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