Using sight words for kindergarten is a bad idea?!!!
You may be shocked to hear that using sight word lists is considered a bad idea for teaching kids reading !! (if not used in the right way and at the right time).
This video explains “Why using sight words alone is not the perfect way of teaching reading and what is the correct strategy?”.
So watch it for better understanding.
I am not saying that sight words are bad but they should be taught using the right strategy.
I included a link where you can download worksheets for sight words for free.
But I hope you read this article first……..
Using sight words to teach a child how to read is a traditional way preschool teachers use.
What is the meaning of sight words?
Sight words (service words) are words that don’t follow the general rules of spelling and can’t be decoded phonetically (some sight words are).
Many of these words are repeated frequently in our daily language and in children reading books, in this case, they are also known as high-frequency words.
Sight word lists aim to memorize the configuration and shapes of the word.
The idea is that children are taught and trained to memorize instant words
as a whole (by shape) to be identified immediately by sight and without the need to apply decoding skills.
this will save valuable effort and time
allowing children to focus on the rest of the sentence and hence reading faster.
The importance of learning about sight words for kindergarten:
Functions As “Service” Words
Prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, articles, and common verbs are words that assist students largely in understanding the meaning of a sentence.
Having to quickly read and comprehend pronouns like “I” and “you” is fundamental in constructing and knowing the meaning of many sentences.
Improves Reading Comprehension
For a child, opening a book to try and enjoy a good story then ending up decoding each word in a sentence can be frustrating.
Not only do sight words help children crack and interpret words more effortlessly,
but it also allows them to shift their focus to the more challenging individual texts, making reading less demanding and more fun.
Helps Address Pronunciation Difficulties
Since the English language contains a host of words that do not follow regular phonics or spelling standards, children are asked to read, spell, and use such words albeit the confusion.
Words that sound the same but are spelled in another way and have a different meaning,
therefore posing reading comprehension obstacles to students, are taken care of, and are made easy to read and understand by simply having sight words in your child’s arsenal.
Promotes Reading Confidence
Studies say that the 100 most frequently used words represent half of all English texts which means that when your child can easily recognize more than half the words in a sentence, they would typically gain the confidence to attempt to read it.
While opening a storybook with fewer pictures and more words can be quite overwhelming particularly to a young child, recognizing or being familiar with most of the words enhances their confidence in reading.
Although it is not expected for a child to have a full grasp of sight words at least until the end of Kindergarten, knowing that they have enough understanding of its use can greatly help with their reading comprehension.
Instead of pushing their young brains to figure out every word on a page, they can focus on breaking down unfamiliar words, allowing more room for learning.
Kindergarten sight words criticism
The problem is that it-as mentioned before- depends on memorizing words by shape (it is dealing with the English language as if it was Chinese).
Its drawback is that it trains children to unconsciously treat other words the same way trying to guess only ( and that is bad ).
that’s why the timing of teaching these words is important.
Teaching sight words (the wrong way) can cause serious difficulties for your kid to learn reading.
Here is an example of how it can be really confusing for a child who is learning how to read.
You have to put yourself in the shoes of your child. For them, new service words are random letters that are very hard to memorize and look something like this:
Check these fake random words…..
thyeiub, frkde, likye, bfieodf, dibyr, ….
Imagine these are really meaningful words you have to memorize not 5 but 100!!
How difficult for you as an adult to remember them????!!!!
Yet, many teachers have gone far with this and recommending lists of hundreds of words (Dolch words)
and even thousands of words (as fry words) for poor kids that they have to remember!!
It takes a lot of effort and energy to memorize many similar words with little differences which can be confusing.
Teaching these words list the wrong way trains children to recognize words as “whole pieces”.
1 ) 67% of US grade 4 students cannot read at a proficient level.
2 ) 33% of Australian year 5 students don’t meet the benchmark literacy skills.
These two statistics show that something is wrong about the approach used to teach kids to read at the early stages.
Check out this Amazing reading program teaching kids even at a very early age!!!
What are examples of sight words?
Some sight words examples include: I, He, Have, Like and The. To illustrate these examples lets put some of these words in a sentence ” I like that dog”.
Notice that this simple sentence consists of 75% instant words.
Why are sight words important?
They are important because as illustrated in the example above that these words form from 50_70% of English sentences. Identifying them by sight increases reading fluency.
When should you start sight words?
There is no specific age to start teaching these words but it depends on a child’s level not grade.
The Dolch list contains a group for prekindergarten and kindergarten but it is recommended after a child has gained at least the minimal decoding skills and phonemic awareness.
How many sight words should a kindergartener know?
About 50 instant words a kindergartener should know and be familiar with (according to the Dolch list).
What is the meaning of Dolch words?
Dolch sight words “not Dolce sight words”. They are groups of sight words created by Edward William Dolch where he added the most common words in children reading books during his time.
How many Dolch sight words are there?
Dolch lists contain 220 service words and he created a separate list consisting of 95 nouns. He believed that these words made up 50-75% of children’s books.
What is the purpose of Dolch sight words?
Although most Dolch words can be decoded phonetically ( unlike the common belief) he considered recognizing these words by sight will lead to better reading fluency.
“If one can read all of those words, one can read at a third-grade level” Dolch, 1948
What are the Dolch basic sight words?
Dolch divided his sight words according to grade level to 5 groups:
The basic Dolch sight words are the Pre-primer (pre-kindergarten) : (40 words) a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you
Primer (kindergarten sight words list): (52 words) all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes
1st Grade words list: (41 words) after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when
2nd Grade: (46 words) always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don’t, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your.
3rd Grade: (41 words) about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm.
Dolch list: Nouns (95 words)
apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood
PRO TIP: start teaching the non-phonetically decoded Dolch words as kids can already decode the rest of Dolch words phonetically.
Examples of non-phonetically decoded words: (a, any, could, laugh, where, does, once, two, said, these, one
What is Fry sight words?
After Dolch had created his list came Dr. Edward Fry who introduced his list of instant service words.
Fry Words are the most common words used in English ranked in order of frequency.
He published a book named “Fry 1000 Instant Words.” In his research, Dr. Fry found the following results:
25 words make up about 1/3 of all children’s books published.
100 words comprise about 1/2 of all of the words found in publications.
300 words make up about 65% of all written material.
What is Fry 1st 100 words?
Fry first 100 words are:
a, about, all, an, and, are, as, at, be, been, but, by, called, can, come, could, day, did, do, down, each, find, first, for, from, get, go, had, has, have, he, her, him, his, how, I, if, in, into, is, it, like, long, look, made, make, many, may, more, my, no, not, now, number, of, oil, on, one, or, other, out, part, people, said, see, she, sit, so, some, than, that, the, their, them, then, there, these, they, this, time, to, two, up, use, was, water, way, we, were, what, when, which, who, will, with, words, would, write, you, your
Click here to download Fry Sight Word Lists for Teaching 1,000 Fry Words
How to teach sight words?
- Use fun and engaging sight words songs.
check my list of 11 best sight words songs for kindergarten on you-tube
- Use sight words apps
I prefer sight words sentence builder
- Use sight words colored stories
sight words colored books is a great way to grab kids attention.
- Sight words interactive games
See list of sight words games below.
- Use sight words flashcards
run a competition on identifying sight words using flashcards
Activities for effectively Teaching kindergarten Sight Words
Students who automatically learn to recognize such a high-frequency set of English words greatly increase their reading capability and comprehension.
Extremely useful for young learners and struggling readers, getting a good command of sight words enhances their fluency to process harder and less frequently engaged words.
While brilliant teachers may have come up with various ways to teach sight words to their kids, we rounded up a few ideas to make learning them easy and fun.
Draw Them Out From Their Favorite Story Books
Capture your student’s attention by looking for sight words from their favorite stories. Preferably from the books you use in class,
but if you feel that going through comic books would help them best, then maybe you can use them sparingly.
Constantly expose, point a word out, and talk about the words that you find to better introduce your young learner to the topic.
Display The Words Generously
While several words may be a little harder for children to learn about, hiding sight words “in plain sight” such as around the classroom or your home allows them to spend more time focusing on its meaning and to take it in.
Ask Your Kids To Apply Them In Writing
Jotting down words in isolation or as part of short engaging sentences can further teach children to use these common words in their writing.
Such practice helps increase the chances of them including sight words in their school works and conversations.
Initiate Typing Games (for 4-years old and above)
No doubt, typing is less tiring and more fun than writing things down.
Allowing young children to learn how to type at the same time they are learning to read and write greatly helps them to rely on muscle memory in their tiny hands, ultimately leading to more efficient and easier-to-read handwriting.
Find modules made up of only sight words and you got them learning about both frequently used words and mashing on a keyboard.
Continuously reading and writing sight words may sound repetitive but will eventually do the trick.
It is important for parents and teachers alike to understand that revisiting the same topic regularly not only teaches students the proper use of such common words but patience and learning while having fun as well.
Kindergarten sight words games:
Grouped to make learning easy in the early stages of reading, sight words are the most commonly used in the English language,
though it does not necessarily mean that decoding or sounding them out is effortless. While education for most parents is a serious matter, it is no excuse not to have a bit of fun with your child.
Such games have been developed to facilitate both learning and leisure, making certain to help you come up with the best tools for accomplishments and progress.
Here are some of the best sight word games that will get the children learning and laughing:
Sight Word Twister
How do you play sight word Twister?
This version of the popular game Twister requires you to twist and turn with your child in pursuit of finding sight words so you better stretch and be ready.
Depending on your child’s comfort level with sight words and their attention span, start with only a handful of words and work your way up with additional rounds.
1-Write each sight word on an index card and tape each word on the floor just a little bit apart.
2-Tell your child to find one of the words and place an elbow on it, a knee on a second word, perhaps an ear on the third, then go on to a fourth and maybe a fifth.
3-Make it more fun by twisting along with them and be just as playful and silly about what state and shapes you make with your body.
Sight Word Toss
1-Give this game a go by writing sight words on sticky notes and placing them separately on the floor.
2-Ask your child to grab their favorite soft toys and let them stand a few feet away from the notes.
3-Pick a word, say it aloud, and have your child toss the toy so that it lands on the right word.
4-On your turn, make the game more interesting and fun for your child by missing, so don’t fret about having a poor aim.
Scavenger Sight Word Hunt
How do you do a sight word scavenger hunt?
From hunting for pastel-colored eggs to finding specific toys in heaps of action figures and dolls, we know that kids can’t resist a good old-fashioned treasure hunt.
1-Write your sight words on index cards and number them maybe from 1-10
2-Put down a list of clues on a separate piece of paper.
3-Then hide the cards in spots familiar to your child whether in a park or around the house.
4-Ask them to use the clues to figure out where the words were hidden.
How sight words can lead to reading problems?
English is an alphabet based language where words are consisting of individual letters, each letter has a specific sound and by combing these sounds we make up the whole word.
English words were never designed to be memorized by shapes.
So many words with similar shapes that can be difficult for a child to memorize.
If teaching instant word lists and more lists was the best way to teach reading then a child would have to memorize thousands of different words.
The Oxford dictionary alone contains over 170,000 English words.
So, what is the correct way to teach reading?
Easy, First step: instead of teaching your child to memorize hundreds of words you need to teach the “44 sounds of English“.
Second step: teach your child how to connect those sounds together to pronounce the whole word.
A question for you>>>
Which is easier teaching the 44 sounds or teaching hundreds and thousands of words?
Yes, CLAAAPP… you guessed it right.
THE MAGIC FORMULA = Synthetic phonics+ phonemic awareness+ some sight words =any child can read any word even if it is the first time for him or her to see that word and don’t know its meaning.
According to a study by the National reading panel, teaching phonics and phonemic awareness produces better results than whole long reading programs.
Teaching phonemic awareness improves reading and spelling abilities for children.
Shaidikia N Evans says
How many sight words should a kindergarten grader know?
C Matthews says
This was so helpful! I was trying to use memorization t help my baby learn words that aren’t easily sounded out (ex: schedule) but this shows there are many more approaches to teaching kids to read those sight words.
Abigail Todd says
Amazing sights and i enjoy to words read but how much sight word in Kindergarten?
I would encourage you to look into the “science of reading” or “structured literacy.” When you utilize a direct and systematic approach to teaching the code a lot of these so called sight words go away. In order to orthographically map words to the brain they must be decoded sometimes 30 plus times. True sight words make up only 3 to 10 percent of the English language.