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Friday, March 8, 2024


Did you know that 3 words make up 10% of what we read? (I, and, the)
Did you know that 13 words make up 25% of what we read?
Did you know that 100 words make up 50% of what we read?

It just makes sense that if children memorize these words, then reading fluency and comprehension will be strengthened. Many of the high frequency words do not follow phonetic patterns and they cannot be sounded out. Additionally, these words tend to be abstract and have no visual connection. Children simply need to recognize them by sight. In fact, in the “olden days” we referred to these words as “sight words.” Now they are commonly called high frequency words or word wall words.

Memorization of these words will be enhanced with repetition. I’ve heard it takes the average child 25-36 exposures/experiences with a word before it is saved in their brains. Rather than drill and kill, I’ve got some games, songs and activities to make learning these words a little more fun. I’ll be focusing on sight words, but these same strategies can be adapted for letters, shapes, numerals, vocabulary words, and so forth.

Note! In addition to teaching words in isolation, use these games with phrase cards. Phrase cards are groups of words that come up frequently when children read. If they are learned as a “chunk” they will improve fluency when children read.

Lifetime Words
Refer to high frequency words as “lifetime words.” Explain that if you put these words in your brain, you will be able to read with them the rest of your life!

Treasure Boxes
Make “treasure boxes” (Altoids tins) where children can save the words as they learn them.

Word Rings
Give each child a book ring. When she learns a word (or requests to learn a word), write it on an index card, punch a hole, and let her attach to the ring.

Personal Dictionary
Let each child make a personal dictionary and write high frequency words as they are introduced. These will be handy when they do independent writing.

Word Study Booklet
Go to (practice booklets) and download directions to make this tool. Each child will need a pocket folder and can progress at her own rate as she masters lists of words.
Note! The word lists on this site are appropriate for first or second grade. I would make my own list for kindergarten students with 8-10 words on each list.

Word Wall Office
Make a personal office with high frequency words for each child. Tape two file folders together and staple copies of your class word wall inside. I suggest stapling so you can change the sheets as the word wall expands throughout the year. Children can set these up on their desks when they write to make a study carrel.

Skill Bags
This is a powerful idea for differentiated instruction. Each Monday give each child 3 - 5 index cards with words appropriate for their level. Children store their cards in their “skill bag” (zip bag) and practice working on them each day. At the end of the week, children can take their cards home or store them in “word banks.”

High Five
Write sight words on hands and tape to your classroom door. Students must "high five" a hand and read a word before exiting the classroom.

Word Wall Ball (Lynn Urban)
Students earn a bead for each word wall word they learn and string it on a necklace. Once all word wall words have been learned, they earn a star bead. In the spring celebrate with a BALL! Students wear nice clothes and their word bead necklaces. Serve refreshments, and dance!