Guest Post: The ABCs of Sight Words

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Sight word instruction is a highly recommended supplement to a conventional phonics curriculum. Children can use phonics to decode most of the words they come across, but knowing sight words can enhance their reading speed and fluency.

Sight words are vocabulary words that are essentially memorized, so a child can recognize them by sight. There are two types of sight words: high-frequency words, or words that show up a lot in written English, and non-phonetic words, which can’t be decoded using the rules of phonics. The two most commonly used lists of sight words are the Dolch and Fry sight word lists, developed by two different educational scholars.

A word cloud of all the Dolch sight words.

A word cloud of all the Dolch sight words.

The best way to learn sight words is through numerous repetitions of each word—seeing it, hearing it, saying it, spelling it, and writing it. At we recommend using a variety of simple teaching techniques to introduce new sight words to your child as well as review old words. In just ten minutes, you can introduce three to five new sight words using the full range of teaching techniques.

But the repetition does not need to be dull and drill-like! After a quick lesson to introduce and teach a few new sight words, use a game to reinforce has your child has just learned. One day’s sight word instruction time can include ten minutes of lesson time followed by twenty minutes of game time. A sight words game provides many opportunities for more repetitions of the words, but wrapped up in a fun variation of a classic kid’s game!

A favorite game at is Fly Swat, sometimes called Splat. Children get to work out some of that squirmy, wiggly kid energy using fly swatters to “swat” the sight words flies. The trick is that they must read the word correctly before the fly can go “splat”! It can be played with an adult and one child or with a classroom full of kids.

Sight Words Fly Swat is a great educational game for active young children.

Sight Words Fly Swat is a great educational game for active young children.

Other sight word games range from Dominoes to Go Fish to a sight words variation of Candy Land. Your child may prefer one or two games over the others. And some games let you focus the child’s attention on a smaller or larger number of vocabulary words. A popular feature of the games is that they are all customizable—you can supplement or even replace a list of Dolch or Fry words with your own custom words!

We believe we have created a website with a fun, easy-to-use, and FREE curriculum for sight words instruction. Hopefully this has answered some of your questions about sight words. You can now take this knowledge and help your children make the most of their early education!

Margo Edwards holds degrees from Rice University and George Washington University and is the Director of Content Development at, a website dedicated to providing free resources—from lessons to flashcards to games—to promote child literacy. is proud to be sponsored by the Georgia Preschool Association.

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