Sight Words

What are Sight Words?

Sight words are the most common words that make up our spoken and written language. Fifty percent of all text is made up of the most common 100 sight words. These 100 words can be found on Fry’s list (see below). Because these 100 words are so common, it is very important to memorize these words as early as possible, typically around the first grade. Students should be able to read sight words within 3 seconds. Sight words are also words that may not follow phonics patterns (for example, of should be spelled uv and was should be spelled wuz).

How do we know when a reader does or doesn't have difficulty with sight words?

Proficient Readers Struggling Readers
  • correctly read sight words
  • do not need to sound out sight words
  • read them as quickly as they would read their name
  • often read sight words incorrectly
  • may stop to sound out sight words
  • may take longer than 3 seconds to read sight words
  • may skip sight words while reading

Fry’s Sight Words (first hundred)

Complete Dolch Word List Divided by Level

Strategies and tools to help struggling readers with sight words:

Strategy  Grades K-2  Grades 3-5 Grades 6-8  Grades 9-12
WORDO X      
flash cards X X X X
card games X X    

Here are links to the following strategies:

  • WORDO is just like Bingo but you write sight words on the WORDO card. The tutor calls out words and the learner places a token on the word until he or she completes a row or column or the entire card.
  • Flash cards are great tools for practicing sight words. Simply write the words on index cards and practice a few each time you meet with your learner.
  • Memory game is just like the picture memory game where you place a pile of cards face down and turn them over looking for matched pairs. Use index cards and write pairs of sight words on the cards, turn them over and have your learner try to match them. It's important to read and say them as they are turned over.

These strategies can be used for one-on-one tutoring as well as in small groups.