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What are sight words?

Pre-Primer Sight Words. Sight words, or high frequency words as they’re often known, are vocabulary words that appear frequently in verbal and written communication – words such as the, come, to and where. Unfortunately for those learning to read, many of these words are irregularly spelt, making them difficult to sound out phonetically.

Sight words are common words that schools expect kids to recognize instantly. Words like the, it, and and appear so often that beginning readers reach the point where they no longer need to try to sound out these words. They recognize them by sight.

Building up a large base of sight words helps kids become faster, more fluent readers. When kids master a sight word, they no longer have to pause to blend its letter-sounds together. And they don’t have to think about spelling rules. 

Some schools call sight words high-frequency words. Other terms for sight words include star words, core words, and popcorn words. Why popcorn? Because these words “pop up” so frequently in reading and writing. 

Why is it important to learn sight words?

As children read, if they stop to phonetically decode a word the flow of text is interrupted, and comprehension of what has been read can be lost as the reader’s focuses on the task of decoding. It is for this reason that most reading programs recommend that children develop the ability to recall high frequency words automatically or ‘on sight.’ Children with a good grasp of the most regularly used sight words are able to read more fluently which, in turn, supports good reading comprehension.

Using sight word activities like games, centers, and hands-on manipulatives will help your students master skills without even knowing that they are learning!

Make sight word learning a regular part of your literacy block and switch out activities often. By setting aside time for focused attention on sight word learning, you’ll be surprised how quickly your young readers blossom.

It’s critical to teach students to memorize sight words as a whole so that they can recognize them immediately (within 3 seconds) without having to use any strategies to decode them. Imagine how frustrating reading would be if you had to stop and sound out every little word!

Once readers master sight words they are able to understand at least half of the words in any particular text. By eliminating the need to stop and decode sight words, readers are able to focus on words that are less familiar and more difficult.
Top Five Quiz #1

Using phonics or picture-reading skills for words like these is ineffective for young readers, especially for those who are in the early stages of developing their decoding skills. Therefore we need to know these words by “sight”.

When it comes to learning a skill, the importance of self-efficacy (an individual’s belief in his ability to achieve a goal) cannot be overstated. Children are considerably more inclined to learn something new if they believe they can do it. Thus, enhancing their confidence is key.

Memorizing sight words has now been scientifically proven to induce confusion in young readers since they get to reading things “in context”. For example, in the absence of visual clues, imagine that there are slight misspellings in a common word used in a paragraph – say “whose”, “who’s” and “whoosh”. If the correct usage is the first one, children will often autocorrect in the other two cases and read as if “whose” had been repeated thrice.

Samples From the Worksheet 




With all the diverse approaches at our disposal today, it can be challenging to opt for tactics and activities that are best designed to help kids become confident, fluent readers. To compound the situation, children, parents, and instructors are all heavily overworked! As an adult immersed in the hustle and bustle of life, you may be continuously faced with the task of deciding ways to spend quality time with your children. A productive way to utilize the time you spend with your children is by giving them sight words education.


Learning to read is obviously tricky business. There are so many skills and strategies that need to come together to create fluent readers. One of the first steps in helping our young students get started is focusing on sight words.

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