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Teaching Sight Words to First Graders

August 19th, 2008 by admin

By first grade, students are usually excited about reading, and their learning skills have developed to the point where they can memorize sight words.  This goes a long way to helping them develop fluency and confidence they need to tackle the more complex parts of reading, such as understanding phonics and learning about comprehension.  Help these youngest students to get a leg up on reading by teaching common sight words as quickly as possible.

By way of a quick definition, sight words are the most common words in our language that are often taught early in the process of learning to read.  Many are phonetically irregular, and all are important to learn quickly in order to get meaning from text.  There are several hundred words that are considered sight words, but the most common 300 or so make up over 60% of most every day reading tasks.  A student who masters these sight words is able to read nearly anything!

The words are referred to variously as sight words, high-frequency words, or first words.  There are several main reference lists, including the Dolch list, the Fry list, and Essential Sight Words lists.  These are generally organized in a standard order, though each list recommends different words be taught first.  Most basal readers used by schools, as well as many controlled-vocabulary texts, use a very high number of sight words.  Here are references for you if you’d like to print out any of the lists:

If you are searching for activity and lesson ideas for teaching sight words, here are some resources:

With these resources and those in the Sight Words section of this website, you can help your child or your class master this essential skill.  Don’t delay-start today!

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© 2008 Sandra Fleming

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