Your Complete Guide to Kindergarten Sight Words

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As your kids begin their kindergarten journey, you’ll soon hear about learning sight words…if you haven’t already.  Sight words are different from other words because they are commonly occurring words in the English language but they need to be memorized.  Learning sight words is crucial because these words will help your kindergartener develop essential reading comprehension and literacy skills

But before we discuss the actual kindergarten level sight word list, let’s talk about what sight words are, different types of sight words, and ways you can help your child be successful.

What are Sight Words? 

Sight words are words that need to be memorized in order to learn them because they cannot be sounded out. Basically, sight words break the rules of normal spelling patterns, which is one reason they can be frustrating to teach. 

The strategy behind memorizing sight words is that once students have become proficient, they will be able to identify and pronounce them within 3 seconds of viewing. 

Are Dolch and Fry Sight Words the Same? 

These sight word lists are not the same, but sometimes you will hear them being used interchangeably.  The Dolch sight word list came from an educator in the 1930s known as Dr. Edward William Dolch.  He invented this list because he found them appearing often in children’s books.  He also added a noun list as well. 

Dr. Edward Fry came along in the 1950s and revamped the Dolch list by adding and omitting words due to relevance.  In 1980 after another list update, these 1000 words (most commonly occurring in children’s books) became the Fry Sight Word List.

But don’t freak out and think your kindergartener needs to learn all 1000 words!!  These 1000 words are mastered over the course of kindergarten thru fifth grade! 

How Many Sight Words Should a Kindergartener Know? 

The way the sight word list is broken down, by the end of your student’s kindergarten year they should master the first 50 words, but it’s quite common in many schools to see a requirement of the first 100 words.  While the Common Core State Standards indicate that students should be able to recognize high-frequency words, there is not a specific number indicated. 

During first grade, the first 50 words are reviewed from kindergarten, and then 50 new words are introduced and mastered.  From second grade to fifth grade, students will master 100 additional words per year.  

Ways to Teach Kindergarten Sight Words 

We know that every child learns a little bit differently, so having many different ways to practice and engage with the sight words is important for memorization.  One important thing to remember is that before a child can begin memorizing sight words, they need to understand the basics of letters and sounds. Otherwise, sight words are going to be a very abstract concept.

The key is keeping the review activities enjoyable for your child.  You can switch things up and rotate through this list every week, or you can stick with the ones your child finds the most interesting. 

For kindergartners to master their sight words, they need to practice and review the words every day for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remember, children at this age learn best in small increments.  So, if you notice your child is becoming frustrated or uninterested, take a break and start again later or switch up your learning activity. 

Also keep in mind that you only want to introduce 3-5 unfamiliar words at a time.  This gives your child enough time to learn the new words while practicing the mastered words before moving on. 

Flashcards 

Using flashcards is a very simple yet effective way to teach sight words. If your child is in school, you will most likely get a set of these flashcards from the teacher.  However, if you are homeschooling your kindergartener or you want your child to have a personal set for practice at home, you can make them yourself (with index cards and a marker).

If you prefer to make life easier, simply purchase a pre-made set like one of these.

If you decide to make your own, I have a simple little hack that will make your life so much easier. Punch a hole in the top corner (left or right) and then connect them with a key ring. This will prevent half of them from getting lost within the first week!

Read, Write, and Trace 

It’s a known fact that hearing, seeing, and then writing leads to quicker memorization of any content.  This workbook helps your child do just that while also helping with essential handwriting skills!  This particular workbook actually contains the first 100 words, so you can repurpose it again in the first grade. 

Sing 

This approach is a little more creative compared to the first two.  Pick a familiar tune that your student already knows like “This Old Man” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and then select 3-5 sight words at a time to sing.  If your child is musically-inclined or very interested in music, this will be a fantastic alternative to the traditional paper and pencil method.

Create a Word Wall 

A word wall is exactly what it sounds like!  It’s simply a wall full of sight words located in a place your child sees often.  Creating a sight word wall is perfect for the classroom, your homeschool space, or a homework environment, and that’s why I created these farmhouse-inspired word wall sets.

If you don’t have space to put the words on a wall, consider using a tri-fold board as a display or simply use these magnets on your fridge or whiteboard. 

Sight Word Books

Incorporating kindergarten sight word books into your daily activities is another interesting way to introduce the words to your child while providing context for the words. These are some of the best ones.

More Sight Word Activity Ideas 

Fun Sight Word Activities for Kindergarten

sight word activity for kindergarteners with text overlay

Melissa shares some fantastic, hands-on activities to help your student learn their first 100 sight words!

Incorporating fun into learning keeps kids excited rather than bored. They no longer see memorizing these as a chore, but rather as an activity that they look forward to completing each day. 

Melissa also includes free printables! 

5 Hands-on Sight Word Activities For Kindergarten

child holding play doh with text overlay

Jessica is a former teacher, so she knows that these activities are both teacher-approved and student-approved! 

Plus, it always helps to have a growing list of interesting activities handy so that you can keep your children and students excited about sight words! 

Sight Word Activities For Preschool And Kindergarten

display of sight words for kindergarteners with text overlay

These activities are simple, effective, and so much fun!!  You’ll find mini-books, flipbooks, and sentence builders as well as great tips for creating small literacy centers in your homeschool.

Abby is a former classroom teacher and trains teachers from all over the world…so we know her activities fall right in place when it comes to meeting the public and private school standards!

Kindergarten Sight Words: Dolch List 

Below you’ll find the Dolch Sight Word List for kindergarteners as well as the Dolch Noun List.

Dolch Sight Word List

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

Dolch Noun List

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, goodbye, 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

Kindergarten Sight Words: Fry List – The First 100

Unlike the Dolch word lists which are listed by frequency, the Fry Words are listed in alphabetical order.

a, about, all, am, 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, its, like, long, look, made, make, many, may, more, my, no, not, now, number, of, on, one, or, other, out, part, people, said, see, she, 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

As with anything, practice makes perfect and it takes time!  Introduce one teaching method and/or activity at a time by adding it to your homeschool schedule or classroom reading block.  Then feel free to use these ideas as a springboard for creating your own engaging learning activities!  

More Helpful Kindergarten Resources: