A relatively small number of words (about 100) make up most of the text children read. Some of these words are irregular or not decodable. Successful readers have a large number of words they can read automatically by sight. These are known as sight words.
Suggested Sight Word Lists
Dolch Sight Words
The Dolch list of 220 basic sight words was developed in the 1930’s, based on three comprehensive lists of words compiled in the previous decade. The Dolch words hold sentences together and include adjectives, adverbs, articles, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs.
They include between 52 and 70 percent of all the words children generally find in assigned reading and are commonly divided into four lists: a Pre Primer list, a Primer list, a First Grade List, and a Second Grade list. Other lists of words have been developed with a high degree of consistency in the first hundred words.
Fry Instant Words List
The newer Fry Instant Word List was developed from “500-word samples from over 1045 books in 12 subject areas in grades 3 through 9” as well as samples from library books and magazines.
The Fry words are divided into groups of the first 100 most frequent words, the second 100, and so on. “Over two-thirds of the 100 most frequent words…have highly regular spellings….These 100 words “make up about 50 percent of all material written in English….
The first ten words make up 24 percent of all written material….The first 25 words make up a third of all printed material.” These words should be recognized instantly, no more than one second, for fluency in reading.
These 240 words, arbitrarily selected by Frank May, include many of the high frequency irregularly spelled words and many common nouns.
How to Teach Sight Words
- Select words that the children need to use in their reading or writing.
- Choose a small number of words:
- In first grade teach 3-5 words per week.
- Provide practice writing and spelling.
- Use magnetic letters.
- Find new words in context.
- Develop a word wall.
Consider, for a moment, government initiatives such as the proposal for universal health care in America. It was packaged in a mammoth document, which was crammed with information relating to health-care providers, insurance companies, “managed competition,” costs of services and pharmaceuticals, “core benefits,” and many other aspects pertaining to health care. What sense can we make out of all this? How can we cut to the essence of what this program might mean to us?
We rely on summarization-those distillations by various experts, analysts, and writers, and by ourselves-which makes a bulk of information manageable for understanding. As adults, both on the job and during the other aspects of our daily lives, we are virtually bombarded by information that needs to be summarized in order to be digested.
Summarization skills are also critical for our students, many of whom find it very difficult to reduce information into its essential ideas in order to learn it. Lack of summarization skills results in many of our students not being able to “see the forest for the trees” as they read. The Magnet Summary helps students rise above the details and construct meaningful summaries in their own words.
Magnet Summaries involve the identification of key terms or concepts-known as magnet words-from a reading. Students then use these magnet words to organize important information that should be included in a summary.