Step 3 Teaching the Sight Words

Sight words

Each day, you will want to work on sight words.  There is a list of 220 sight words that was developed by Edward Dolch that are used the most in the English Language.  These words are sight words and are not meant to be sounded out.  There are other words that should be sight words besides those 220, but these are the most common used in our English language.  You can purchase a set of these to put on flashcards, or create cards yourself.  You can also find powerpoints online that are created using these words.  Some have sound and will say the word and will only give them 3 seconds to say it before the powerpoint says it.  My favorite resource for these online is Mrs. Perkins website online.  She has a variety of available activities for use on the dolch sight words that include the powerpoints.http://www.mrsperkins.com/dolch-audio.html

When working with flashcards or powerpoints for learning the sight words, it is important to only give a slow count to 3 for your child to recognize and say the word.  If they don’t then you say it for them.  You want to learn what these words are, because later when reading, you will want to do the same thing when they see the word in text.  You will not want them trying to sound these words out. 

To learn these sight words, start with 3 to five words depending on your child’s pacing needs.  Show them the word, say the word.  Place the word on the table in front of them. Say the word and have them repeat you. After giving a second word, have them pick up the first word, say what it is and lay it down.  If they do not recall within 3 seconds say it for them and have them repeat it before setting the word down.  Give a third word, have them repeat it.  Go back to the first word, have them pick it up, say the word and place it down.  Do this until you get to about 5 words on the first day.  Then work with those five, mixing them up and repeating the activity of picking each word up and saying what it is and placing it down. Repeat this, having them try to remember it the next time.  Mix the cards up each time and add words each day at a pacing that fits them.   Normally you can add 3 to 5 words each day.  You will want to go over all of the words, but once you have had a few days of adding words, you will pick 5 old words and 3-5 new words to use for practice each day. 

One activity I like and comes from, “How to Teach your Dyslexic Child to Read” but I have adapted to include other ideas is to play a word game.  To play the game:

1. Take about 10 of the words.

2. Place them facing up where you can see the words

3. Use a toy car, little people or other fun moveable object.  Each of you has one.

4.  Place your object in front of you on the edge of the table of words. 

5. Each of you take turns saying a word or you say all the words. 

6. After saying the, you both race to the word.  You should hesitate to allow them to win most of the cards.

You can search in any search engine to find the 220 sight words, but using the link above gets you several lists in building order. Teach them in that order for great success.  Once certain words are learned put them in a stack together to be reviewed as needed.  Start with the first list “pre-primer list” and work your way up.   

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3 Responses to “Step 3 Teaching the Sight Words”


  1. 1 Hilery Williams March 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    The Dolch list was created in 1948 and, as such, is grossly out- dated.
    Of course many of the words remain useful but I would suggest a more recent list such as the one found in the English National Literacy Strategy: http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/database/primary/NLSwords.html.

    • 2 everyonecanlearn March 6, 2009 at 11:22 pm

      The link for the word list isn’t working. Can you try and send it to me again? It says page not found. Thanks

  2. 3 Denise August 20, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Try playing a board game called Er-u-di-tion that incorporates both sight words and phonics.

    This award winning game helps children learn to read, spell and understand the most common words in the English language while playing an entertaining board game.

    Cards are categorized so children of all reading levels can play together!


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Lynnette Crawley M.S. Ed

As an educational consultant, I work with families, students, adults, parents, teachers, schools and corporations in relationship to the many disabilities affecting their lives. Many times all anyone needs is a little coaching, direction or tools to close the gap between where they are and where they should be. Making progress is not good enough. We must be closing the gap. Email: everyonecanlearn@ymail.com

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