Each student can keep a
word book at his or her desk. Folded and stapled
construction or white paper, pencils, and crayons are
all that is required. Students can write their names on
the covers and decorate their books. As students
encounter high-frequency words, they will add them to
their books. They may use the books as a reference when
reading new texts.
More Word Books
After you give the
students a high-frequency word recognition test, provide
them with tiny word books that contain 10-12 new words
(See example). As soon as they feel that they have
mastered the list, the teacher or parent does a quick
check, records their progress and gives them a new
These are available on my Words
of the Week page.
Invite students to be
high-frequency word detectives. They can locate assigned
words in the classroom or school environment and in
print materials they encounter in their daily lives.
Have students pair up.
One reads a high-frequency word books while the other
times the reader. Have students perform timed reading
every day for one week, and you will see their reading
rate and fluency improve.
Almost any simple
game can be slightly modified to accommodate
high-frequency word instruction. Bingo is a consistent
favorite. Create cards with high-frequency words on the
bingo grid and call out the words. Monitor students to
ensure that they recognize the high-frequency words and
place chips on them when appropriate. Other simple games
that can help teach words include common favorites like
tic-tac-toe, Boggle, Scrabble for Juniors, and Hangman.
Make & Break
Use plastic letters to
make and break high-frequency words. Distribute the
appropriate letters to all students in the group. Write
the high-frequency word on the board and have students
use it as a model to make the word with their plastic
letters. Have students read the word. Then, erase the
word from the board. Have students scramble their
plastic letters and try to build the word again. Speak
the word as they do so, separating it into phonemes if
necessary. Have students read the word they have made to
check that it is correct.
c a t
f r o m
Louder & Louder
Have students begin
reading the words on the word wall in a whisper. As they
go along, have them gradually increase the volume until
they are shouting the last word.
Divide students into two
teams, each standing on one side of the word wall. Give
the first student in each team a flyswatter. Read a word
from the word wall. The first team to swat the word gets
a point. The swatter then passes the flyswatter to the
next team member.
Duplicate a set of
high-frequency word cards that have been formatted for
this game. Each student receives 7 cards and then
follows the standard playing rules for Go Fish. The goal
is to have matched pairs. (Example: Player #1: “Do you
If player #2 does not have the requested card, player #1
must draw a card and play continues.
Create two of each
high-frequency word cards. Lay the cards face down on
the floor or table. Students take turns trying to match
identical words. The student with the most pairs wins.
Use sidewalk chalk and
your playground hopscotch grid to create this quick and
easy game. Write a high-frequency focus word in each
square. Students must be able to read a word before
hopping or jumping into each square.
Make a set of dominoes on
colored vellum that have a high-frequency word on each
end. Play according to regular domino rules.
I Have, Who Has?
Make a class
set of cards for this game to practice sight words: “I
who has from?"
Play can begin with any player and continues until each
player has correctly read their card. This game
facilitates the growth of automaticity and fluency.
Use dry erase
boards or magic slates. Write the word over and over
until it is learned, erasing each time. This is a
writing task, not a copying task. If the child is using
paper and pencil, fold the paper over each time or use
another paper or card to cover the previous word. If the
child needs a model to start with, provide it. Then
cover it and allow the child to peek if necessary. Then
remove it altogether. Encourage the children to make
sure the words are in their heads.
Taking high frequency
words to fluency:
Write several times on
the practice page
Write on the white board
Write in the air, on the
Write on a Magna Doodle
Write on a chalkboard
Write words with a wet
sponge or brushes on a chalkboard
Write problem words on 3
x 5 cards. Students use the word in a sentence on the
other (or dictate a sentence to you), underline the
high-frequency word, and illustrate. These cards may be
used for flash card activities. If a child cannot
remember the word, they flip it over and reread their
sentences (context clues) and look at the picture
(visualization) as keys to the word. It’s important to
use the word in context as a memory tool. Keep the cards
on rings or in a “brainabulary” box.
Read & Respond!
guided reading creative response that requires the
children to write the word in a meaningful context. Give
the children a sentence starter to copy and complete.
I like the
part when .
(reinforcing the words like and when)
character was .
(reinforcing the words my and was)
Make sure the
children copy the sentence starter, because in this way
they are practicing the high-frequency word.
Find And Frame?
After a child reads a
passage or story in a guided reading lesson, ask him/her
to frame one or two high frequency words. This may also
be done after a shared reading of a big book or shared
writing lesson. This facilitates word recognition in a
whole class setting.
Read the word wall
quickly. Read it backwards from z to a. (All go at the
same speed to develop fluency and increased rate.)
one letter list. Read it fast. Read it faster. Read it
What's My Rule? or Guess
the Rule: 4 clues, 4 guesses
Teacher or student gives
a word clue (i.e., I'm thinking of a word that starts
with b) from the word wall. Students write their first
guess on their individual white boards. Provide a second
clue (It's a noun.) Students write their second guess.
Continue with clues/guesses (examples: It ends with a
silent e. It has two syllables. It rhymes with, etc.).
By the fourth clue, everyone should have the correct
word. You will need to model this activity.
More Word Wall
of a Word
This is a good activity
for developing scanning skills. However, be sure to
build in success for all. You need to have many words on
the word wall for it to be effective.
I'm thinking of a word.
It rhymes with, means the same thing as, is the opposite
of, we use this word when, etc. When you know it, raise
your hand. Kids can provide the clues later.
Use a set of flash cards
for this activity. Each child gets four or five cards to
put in ABC order on the floor in front of them. They
check with a partner, combine cards and put in ABC
order. Add another pair, etc.
This is a good activity
to use once a week for the whole class or in a small
reading/skills group to review words of the week. Start
by giving each student 2 cards face down. Each child
thinks of a sentence that uses those two words. When a
student recites his/her sentence, ask the class, "Can we
guess what the two words are?" Students may look at the
word wall for help. Gradually move up to more words.
letters. Make the word, read the word, and break the
word. Later, encourage them to make the word, read the
word, cover the word, write the word, check the word,
read the word. (Children may peek at the word if
necessary while they are learning to write it
children to spell the high-frequency words for you to
write in the Daily News story or your specific writing
demonstration. Have children come and write the
high-frequency words directly into the news story for
Duplicate the compound
crunch cards and playing mats. Cut out, mount on vellum
and 3 x 5 cards and laminate for durability. This can be
played in a number of ways: Go Fish with the cards (to
match matched sets) or like Concentration with the mats
and the word cards.
+ house =
go through the poem of the week, worksheets, math
homework, etc. and highlight the sight words of the
week. During a parent education inservice that focuses
on the need to practice with flash cards, this strategy
“highlights” the frequency of sight words in daily print
that children are exposed to.
Make a checker board with
a high-frequency word in each square. Set up the board
with red and black checkers and play according to
checkers rules. The exception to the rule? Students must
be able to read each word correctly before they can move
to the corresponding square!
Beyond Word Banks
are taken from a meaningful context and are displayed on
a chart, word bank cards can be made. Individual, paired
or small group interactive learning games may include:
whose word begins with the same letter or syllable.
whose word ends with the same letter or syllable.
whose word is the same.
whose words rhyme.
according to alphabetical order.
according to the number of syllables in each word.
sentences using the words on the cards.
Make up a
story using all the words on the cards.
synonyms, antonyms or homonyms.
whose words have the same root or base word.
whose words have prefixes or suffixes.
with compound or derived words.
by the stress on the words.
Make up a story or poem using all or most
of the words on the cards.
Bean Bag Toss
One shower curtain liner divided into 20 boxes with a
Words on large cards
Attach the words to the
shower curtain with tape or rubber cement before the
game is being played. Put the small numbers on the
corner of the cards. Divide the class into 2 teams. Each
team will take turns throwing the bean bag to a square.
If the student can read the word the bean bag lands on,
the team gets the number of points on the card. If the
student misses the word, the other team gets the chance
to say it. The team with the most points wins the game.
Around the World
Materials: Word Cards
All the students sit in a
circle. (Or the students can remain at their desks.) One
student stands behind one student who is sitting. The
teacher flashes them a sight word. Whoever says it first
moves on to the next student. The student that makes it
back to their own desk or starting point is the winner.
This is a pretty popular game, but the little ones love
to try to stop someone who is
making it "Around the World"!
Tic Tac Toe
with the tic tac toe board drawn on it
Divide the class into X’s
and O’s teams. Write words in the tic tac toe spaces.
Take turns having a member of the team come up and
selecting a space to read. If he is correct, they may
put an X or O for their team. If they are incorrect, the
other team gets to send a player to the board to try the
same word. You can keep score if you want. You can
already have these boards made up on overhead
transparencies to save time and keep the game moving if
you are using a variety of words, like the sight word
*You can also give
everyone a blank copy of the tic tac toe board, and put
the list of words on the board. Have them place the
words where they want in their board. As you call the
words out, you will have to say if it is an X word or an
O. The first one to tic tac toe is the winner.
Materials: Blank "Wordo
" cards with 9, 16, or 25 blocks.
Copy of words being
Have students fill in the
card with the words that you are working on. Tell them
that each card will be different and to try to mix up
the words they are using. Playing the game is just like
BINGO. Call out the words and have the students spell it
out loud with you and then mark their spaces. This will
give those who are unsure of the word some extra help.
The first one with a row covered calls out the word
"WORDO"! Let the winner be the one who calls out the
words the next time.
Materials: Sight words of
4 levels. Make them on different colored cards and have
the type of hit that each represents on each color
posted somewhere that everyone can see it clearly.
Places in the room marked
as 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and home plate.
Divide the students into
2 teams and let them name themselves. Designate one team
as home, and the other as visitors. Mix up the cards.
One child goes to the home plate. Draw out a card. Match
the color to the type of hit they are trying for. If the
student can read the card correctly, they may move
according to the type of hit. (A single –move 1 base, a
double - move 2 bases, a triple-move 3 bases, and a
homerun-go all the way to home plate.) Make sure that
you have some strike out cards in the word cards also.
If the student is unable to read the word, it is
considered an out. After 3 outs, the next team gets to
"Bat". Keep the score so that everyone can see.
Materials: Word lists on
Write on the chalkboard
two columns of words that are approximately equal in
difficulty. Write as many words on the board as there
are children in the relay. Children are divided into 2
teams, and stand in two lines at right angles to the
chalkboard. At the signal, the first child in each line
points at the first word in his respective column of
words and pronounces that word. If his pronounces it
correctly, he is allowed to erase that word. The game is
won by the side that erases all the words first.
Team Sight Word Race
Materials: A group size
set of sight words
The children are divided
into 2 teams. Each team takes a turn attempting to
pronounce a word turned up from a pile of sight words.
If one team misses, the opposite team then receives a
chance to pronounce that word in addition to their
regular turn. Score is kept on the number of words each
team pronounces correctly. Do not have members sit down
when they miss a word, but have each team member go to
the back of the line after each try whether successful
or not. This enables all members to gain equal practice
and does not eliminate those people who need practice
The Head Chair
Materials: Group size
Mark one chair in the
circle as the "Head Chair." Play begins when you flash a
card to the person in the "Head Chair." A child can stay
in his chair only until he misses a word. When he misses
a word, he goes to the end chair and all the children
will move up one chair. The object of the game is to try
to end up in the "Head Chair."
Which Word Wins?
highlighter, word list
Sit with your child and
look at a newspaper to see just how often sight words
pop up in print. Ask your child to choose a sight word
from the list and an article from the newspaper. Look
for the word together. Highlight and count the word each
time it appears. Try the same thing with a second sight
word. Which word appears more often?
Sing a Song of
Practice sight words by
singing them to a familiar tune or making up your own.
If you run out of words before you get to the end of the
song, just start at the top of the list again. Some
songs to try include “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Jump On It!
sight words on index cards (one word per card). Make a
second set of the same words. Scatter one set face up on
the floor, leaving about a foot between each card. Place
the other set in a stack facedown. Turn over the first
card in the stack. Have your child read the word (offer
help as needed) and then jump on the corresponding card
on the floor. Turn over the next card and have your
child read it and jump to that word. Continue until your
child has jumped on all of the words. Mix up the cards
and play again!
In the Cupboard
Open a cupboard or closet
and take turns with your child, finding and reading
sight words. Try the ones on the list first, then
include other sight words your child is learning. Keep
going until you run out words, time, or things in the
Turn sight words into
rainbows! Ask your child to write a sight word on paper
in big letters. Using different-colored crayons, your
child can then trace around the word again and again,
reading the word each time.
Read My Back!
“Write” a sight word on
your child’s back. Can your child guess the word? Trade
places—let your child trace a word from the list on your
back. Continue taking turns tracing and guessing sight
On the Run
The next time you’re
going somewhere with your child, play a sight word game.
It’s easy—just have your child find as many sight words
as he or she can on billboards, signs, and so on. If you
don’t have a sight word list with you, invite your child
to read the “little” words. You can play this game in a
car, on a walk, even in line at the grocery store!
Choose a picture book to
Tell children that
whenever they hear the word Beep! it
means you’ve left out a word. They need to guess what
the word is.
Read the story a second
time, this time letting children chime in on as many
sight words as they know.
Recommended Reading And Resources
et al, Words
Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and
Spelling Instruction. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Patricia and Hall, Dottie. 4 Blocks Literacy Framework
Recognition Activities: Patterns and Strategies for
Developing Fluency. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Frye, Edward, 1000
Instant Words, Laguna Beach Educational Books.
with Sight Words: Multisensory Ways to Teach High
Frequency Words, Creative Teaching Press.
Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary. New York: Scholastic.
Learning High Frequency
This eleven page booklet
covers a variety of topics:
Why Learn High Frequency
Definition of High
Sight Words and Context
The Importance of Sight
Words to Independent Reading
Implications for Teaching High Frequency Words
Beyond the Word Bank
Activities to Reinforce
and Teach Sight Words
(Click on above link for
reproducible task card size)
This colorful task card
collection includes: Bean Bag toss, Around the World,
Tic Tac Toe, Wordo, Baseball, Erase Relay, Team Sight
Word Race, The Head Chair, Which Word Wins?, Sing a Song
of Sight Words, Jump On It!, In the Cupboard, Rainbow
Letters, Read My Back, On the Run, Bingo and Beep!
Classify and Sort Words
There are many ways to
sort and classify words on a word wall, in a literacy
center, or in a whole or small group lesson:
Words that start the same (beginning blend,
consonant cluster or onset)
Words that end the same (rime)
Words that rhyme
Words that contain the same number of syllables
(1, 2, or 3)
Words that are the same part of speech (nouns,
verbs, adjectives, etc.)
Words with prefixes, suffixes
Long words, short words
Words I know, words I think I know and words I
don't know at all
Words with long or short vowels
Words with schwa sound
Instant Word Test
This word test has been
adapted from How
to Teach Reading by
Dr. Ed Fry. This is a valuable book for teachers,
parents, and tutors! It's full of suggestions for the
beginner and the expert. I've used it for years and a
copy sits on my desk for handy reference for teachers
Go Fish for Sight Words
Here are cards for
playing Sight Word Go Fish. I've put 36 words in each
set. I would suggest running them off on colored card
stock or vellum. Use a different color for each set. Put
matching stickers on the back of the cards (using
different stickers for each set) to keep the sets apart.
Please note that other sets are available on the Dolch
Words page on this site.
Go Fish Set 1
Go Fish Set 2
My Little Book of Words
for Special Spelling
This is a handy little
reference book that is meant to support early and
emergent readers and writers. Each page contains a
special group of words that children use frequently in
their writing (family, sports, holidays, etc.). I would
suggest laminating the cover and then binding the book
at the top. You may want to make enough copies for a
small group or to place in your writing center. I plan
to add other pages in the near future (vegetables,
measurement, math, toys, etc.)