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.
f r o
Louder & Louder
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
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 have from?”. If player #2 does not have
the requested card, player #1 must draw a card and play continues.
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
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 have the, 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
Taking high frequency
words to fluency:
Write several times on the practice page
Write on the white board
Write in the air, on the carpet
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”
Read & Respond!
Provide a 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. For example:
I like the part when
(reinforcing the words like and when)
My best character was
the words my and was)
Make sure the children copy the
sentence starter, because in this way they are practicing the high-frequency
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
Pick one letter list. Read it fast. Read
it faster. Read it faster.
Timed by whole group
What's My Rule? or Guess the Rule: 4 clues, 4
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
I'm Thinking 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,
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.
Use plastic 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 correctly.)
the 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 you.
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.
dog + house =
Have children 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
Once words 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:
Match cards whose word begins with
the same letter or syllable.
Match cards whose word ends with
the same letter or syllable.
Match cards whose word is the same.
Match cards whose words rhyme.
Arrange cards according to
Arrange cards according to the
number of syllables in each word.
Make up sentences using the words
on the cards.
Make up a story using all the words
on the cards.
Find synonyms, antonyms or
Find cards whose words have the
same root or base word.
Find cards whose words have
prefixes or suffixes.
Find cards with compound or derived
Arrange cards by the stress on the
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 permanent marker
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
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
Chalkboard 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 list.
*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.
words being studied
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.
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 the chalkboard
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 most.
The Head Chair
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?
Materials: newspaper, 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
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
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 words.
On the Run
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 read aloud.
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
Recommended Reading And Resources
Bear, Donald, et al, Words Their Way: Word
Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Cunningham, Patricia and Hall, Dottie. 4 Blocks
Fox, Barbara (2003). Word Recognition
Activities: Patterns and Strategies for Developing Fluency. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Frye, Edward, 1000 Instant Words, Laguna
Beach Educational Books.
Throop, Sara (1999) Success with Sight Words:
Multisensory Ways to Teach High Frequency Words, Creative Teaching
Young, Sue (1994). The Scholastic Rhyming
Dictionary. New York: Scholastic.
Learning High Frequency
This eleven page booklet covers a variety of topics:
Why Learn High Frequency Word?
Definition of High Frequency Words
Sight Words and Context Clues
The Importance of Sight Words to Independent Reading
Instructional 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
Ways to Classify and Sort
There are many ways to sort and classify
words on a word wall, in a literacy center, or in a whole or small group
Words that start
the same (beginning blend, consonant cluster or onset)
Words that end the
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.)
Long words, short
Words I know,
words I think I know and words I don't know at all
Words with long or
Words with schwa
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 and
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
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.)