What Are Sight Words?
Sight words are words that should be memorized to help a child learn to read and write. Learning sight words allows a child to recognize these words at a glance — on sight — without needing to break the words down into their individual letters and is the way strong readers recognize most words. Knowing common, or high frequency, words by sight makes reading easier and faster, because the reader does not need to stop to try and sound out each individual word, letter by letter. The best way to learn sight words is through lots and lots of repetition, in the form of flashcard exercises and word-focused games.
Two Types of Sight Words
- Frequently Used Words — Words that occur commonly in the English language, such as it, can, and will. Memorizing these words makes reading much easier and smoother, because the child already recognizes most of the words and can concentrate their efforts on new words.
- Non-Phonetic Words — Words that cannot be decoded phonetically, such as buy, talk, or come. Memorizing these words with unnatural spellings and pronunciations teaches not only these words but also helps the reader recognize similar words, such as guy, walk, or some.
Fry Sight Words
The Fry Sight Word list is a more modern list of words, and was extended to capture the most common 1,000 words. Dr. Edward Fry developed this expanded list in the 1950s (and updated it in 1980), based on the most common words to appear in reading materials used in Grades 3-9. Learning all 1,000 words in the Fry sight word list would equip a child to read about 90% of the words in a typical book, newspaper, or website.
When to Start Teaching Sight Words
Before a child starts learning sight words, it is important that he/she be able to recognize and name all the lower-case letters of the alphabet. When prompted with a letter, the child should be able to name the letter quickly and confidently. Note that, different from learning phonics, the child does not need to know the letters’ sounds.
Adapted from Sightwords.com
Free Fry Sight Words flashcards are available at: http://www.uniqueteachingresources.com/Fry-1000-Instant-Words.html#freefryflashcards or click the Downloads on the right side of this page.