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Dolch sight words have been around for a number of years.
First compiled by Edward William Dolch and published in 1936, these high-frequency words were meant to be recognized by sight as this would help with reading fluency.
But even with a compiled list of words, it can still be an overwhelming task to figure out how and in what order to teach them.
With these Dolch sight word lists, however, we’ve taken out some of the guesswork by organizing each list in frequency order!
Why Teach Sight Words?
Before we get to the lists themselves, it may help to understand why sight words are so important.
When we’re teaching students to read, we’re working on a number of different concepts that will help them sound out the words that are in front of them.
They’ll learn the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that those letters make and as they progress, they’ll learn to sound out vowel teams and consonant blends.
But, what happens when they come across a word that doesn’t follow the typical phonetic rules like the, was, or of?
On the path of learning to read, words like these act like big stop signs since they can’t be decoded, meaning kids can’t sound them out.
And for those that can be decoded?
Well, if a student has to stop reading every time they come across the words it or is because they need to sound them out, their fluency and comprehension would suffer greatly.
Teaching sight words like those in the Dolch word lists ensures that your students will not only read more fluently but that they’ll retain and comprehend more of what they read as well.
Dolch Sight Words
Dolch sight words are typically the ones that most people know of, although there are other lists out there.
The Fry lists are also fairly common and my own personal preference when it comes to teaching sight words.
In my opinion, the Fry lists are much more comprehensive as they cover a larger number of high-frequency words and they are more up-to-date than the Dolch sight words.
The Dolch sight words include 220 words, sometimes known as high-frequency words, that are broken up into five different lists:
- Pre-Primer (Pre-K)
- Primer (Kindergarten)
- First Grade
- Second Grade
- Third Grade
While these lists include both regular, or decodable, and irregular, or non-decodable, words, they’re often listed alphabetically, making it difficult to determine the order in which to teach them.
For our printable lists, however, we’ve organized each of them in frequency order, meaning those words at the beginning of each list are those that will appear most frequently in your students’ reading.
Teaching these sight words first allows your new readers to hit the ground running.
Teaching Dolch Sight Words
Teaching the words on the Dolch sight word lists is much like teaching any other type of sight word.
Above all, they all require practice.
Lots and lots of practice!
But that practice can look different for every child.
There isn’t one way that works for every child, every time.
In fact, you’ll probably need to try several different approaches before you find the ones that work best for your students.
These could include reading simple sight word books, playing a few sight word games (I Have, Who Has? makes a fantastic practice activity for the whole class), or even finding ways to incorporate movement into their sight word learning.
But, no matter what you try, it’s important to remember that every child will learn in their own way and in their own time.
Your job is to simply guide them along and make the process as interesting and engaging as possible.