Sight Words List

Sight words lists typically include the most common words written in text so it makes sense that teachers encourage children to memorize them. Imagine if new readers had to slowly sound out “a-n-d” every single time they came across it. How frustrating for them!

Depending on students’ district, school or even classroom, their sight words list can vary greatly. Words on one first graders’ list aren’t always on another’s.

Let’s take a closer look at two of the most popular sight words lists: Dolch and Fry.

Dolch Sight Words

The Dolch list is a set of 220 words Dr. Edward William Dolch pulled together in 1948 after tallying the most frequently occurring words in children’s books published in the 1930s and 40s.


Many of those words (“said” for instance) cannot be sounded out easily so memorizing them can significantly increase children’s fluency and accuracy.

But, interestingly, Dolch intentionally left out nouns like “bed” and “mother” because he said they were too specific to the characters included in the books.

Fry Sight Words

In 1980, several decades later, Fry published a list of 300 must-know words.


Unlike the Dolch sight words list, this new option included ALL parts of speech – including nouns that Dolch left out of the mix.

Citing the The American Heritage Word Frequency Book (Carol, Davies, & Richmond, 1971), Fry explained that about half of the words written in English text were composed of the first 100 words on his list – either in their original form or with an ending like -ed, -er or -s.

Comparing the Lists

If you compare the top 100 sight words from both lists side-by-side, there are a total of 130 words.  Only 70 are the same.

Most of the differences in the two popular options can be explained by the different sources the men used to create their suggestions.

Dolch used children’s books from the 1930s and 40s while Fry used a research team’s tally of just over 1,000 texts written for third to ninth graders.

All of this got me thinking…

What if we combined BOTH Dolch and Fry’s suggestions into one ultimate list?! A power packed combo that would help kids master the most popular words in one spot.

And viola! The Ultimate Sight Words List was born.

It includes 140 words divided into seven stages.

Stage One works on the top 20 words from both the Dolch and Fry lists.

Stage Two works on the next 20 words and so on.

And to make it easy for you to keep track of the words kids are working on, I pulled together a batch of printable checklists.

Print them on white or add a pop of fun by printing on color.

The lists are a great way to keep track of students’ progress by keeping a copy at school and sending one home.

Grab Your Set

Ready to snag your sight words lists?! Click the blue download button below and then hop over to grab our Reading Cheat Sheets too.

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Hi, I’m Malia.

I’m a National Board Certified Teacher and love showing Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers easy-to-follow systems for getting EVERY student bigger results.