Teaching Your Child to Read with Dolch Sight Words

What are Dolch Sight Words?

While there are many different lists of sight words that educators and parents use, Dolch are the most popular. They were developed in the 1930’s-40’s by Dr. Edward William Dolch, based on words that appeared in children’s books at the time.

Dolch sight words include a total of 315 words, which are divided between “service words” and “nouns” and then broken down by grade, from pre-K to 3rd grade.

It is estimated that the high frequency words on the list make up 80% of the words found in children’s books and up to 50% of the words in books for adults

child reading

How Dolch Sight Words Can Help Teach Your Child to Read

The idea behind Dolch sight words is that by recognizing the words without the need to sound them out, kids can read faster and understand better. If they are able to automatically identify 80% of the words they read, then they can focus their attention on sounding out and understanding the other 20%.

Dolch sight words include frequently used words, like “a” “the” “it” “can” and “will”, as well as words that would break the phonetic rules they’re learning and are difficult to sound out, like “come” and “talk”. 

When they become familiar with non-phonetic words, it also helps them recognize and understand similar words, like “some” and “walk”. 

As children learn each sight word group, they’ll be able to read and comprehend simple children’s books in school without sounding out each individual word.

DID YOU KNOW? Some popular children’s books, like the famous Cat in the Hat, are written using only sight words.

teaching kids to read with high frequency dolch sight words

When Should I Begin Teaching My Child Sight Words?

Before you begin teaching sight words, your child should be able to correctly identify each letter in the alphabet. They do not need to be familiar with the sounds of each letter, as they’ll learn the words by sight, not by sounding them out.

Dolch sight words are divided into groups by age, starting with Pre-K up to 3rd grade. This gives you a good guideline of which words to start with and a general guideline for when, but don’t be discouraged if your 5 year old doesn’t know all 40 Pre-K words by kindergarten.

Introduce words slowly – no more than 3 new words at a time – and focus on repetition. It’s much better to slowly master each word then try to rush through them without complete understanding and comprehension.

What Words are the Dolch Sight Words?

The complete list of Dolch Sight Words are as follows:

  • Pre-K Dolch Sight Words
    (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
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  • Kindergarten Dolch Sight Words
    (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
  • First Grade Dolch Sight Words
    (41 words)
    after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, going, 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
  • Second Grade Dolch Sight Words
    (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
  • Third Grade Dolch Sight Words
    (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
  • Noun Dolch Sight Words
    (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, 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
How to Teach Dolch Sight Words

How to Teach Dolch Sight Words

The key when teaching sight words is activating different parts of the brain with various techniques. Flashcards are a popular way to teach sight words but should be mixed in with other activities. A few suggestions:

  • Use the word in a sentence that has meaning to the child. Mention their name, a family member or friend, a hobby, the pet, etc.
  • Have the child come up with their own sentence.
  • Tap out the word on your arm, while saying it, for a multi-sensory activity.
  • Write the word. Do this in as many ways as possible. Write it on paper, in the air, in sand, in shaving cream on the table, etc.
  • Have your child trace the word – this is especially ideal for pre-K and kindergarten students who are just learning to write.
  • Find the word. Give the child a handful of words on paper or flashcards and ask them to find the specific word you’re looking for.
  • Spell it out. Spell out each letter in the word, saying the word before and after.

Remember that when learning sight words, repetition is key so as you work through these, be sure to continue reviewing the words your child has already learned as well as introducing new words. 

Sight Words Pre K SAS Blog Graphic

How These Dolch Sight Words Worksheets Can Help

To help with teaching your child to read with Dolch sight words, I’ve created some sight word worksheets for you, based on the age groups provided by Dolch.

Each worksheet includes several of the activities mentioned above, including tracing and writing each word, an easy sentence using the word to trace and read, a section to color the word, and a “find it” game.

You can use these worksheets in conjunction with the other activities too! Add in some flashcards and ask the child to tap out, spell and say each word out loud. 

Our Dolch Sight Words Worksheets are available here.

Dolch Sight Words Pre K Printable Worksheets

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