The first 100 sight words make up about 50% of the text we read. Crazy, isn’t it? That’s why these handy sight word lists are so helpful – they make it easy for students to keep track of the words they know AND the words they still need to practice.
Snag your free set below and then hop over and grab our pre-sorted sight word lists so you can help students learn these words quickly and easily!
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.
How Can We Make Them More Brain-Friendly?
Since students will see these words over and over again, they’ll save a LOT of time and energy if they learn them by heart.
But there’s a simple little tweak we can make that will help make those sight words stick faster than ever before…
Instead of sorting words by FREQUENCY, sort them by PHONICS SKILL. Why?
When we teach sight words based on how common they are, words with very different spelling and phonics rules are taught at the same time. For instance, a brand new reader might be asked to learn the words THE, AND, OF in the same week. But each of those words follows extremely different rules:
–> THE has a digraph TH and a schwa E.
–> AND is part of the short A word family.
–> OF has a schwa O and the F makes the /V/ sound.
That’s a LOT for you to have to teach let alone for your brand new reader to have to learn.
But when you sort your sight words by phonics skill, students’ brains are able to focus on just ONE rule at a time. And that means they can memorize the words faster and easier than ever before.
Snag Your Sight Word Lists
Click the blue “download here” button below to grab the Dolch and Fry lists. Then hop over and grab our pre-sorted sight word lists so you can help students learn all of those words quickly and easily!