High Frequency Words/Sight Words
In English, not all words are created equal...some words get read or written a lot more than other words.
We call these words high frequency words because we frequently come across them (that means that we either see them or need to write them a lot).
People also call these words sight words. This is because when you see these words, it is good if you can recognise them right away.
Unlike CVC words, blends and digraphs, it is not a good idea to break sight words down into individual sounds or phonemes. If you did, it may sometimes be very hard to understand the word that you are trying to read.
For example, if you broke the word the into the individual sounds t / h / e, it does not sound anything like the word that you are trying to read.
That is why you should try to practice recognising these words through different activities and games.
Here are some good resources to help you to work on your knowledge of high frequency/sight words. You can print these off and use them at home or at school. There is also a list below called 100 Ways to Use Word Cards which will give you some ideas about how to use these word cards in different ways.
100 Ways to Use Word Cards
1. Play 'Battleships' with words on a grid with a partner or as a class.
2. Play coin toss - words on floor - children take turns to toss a coin on to a word and say that word.
3. Have a box of small blank mini cards or paper you can purchase great sized post it notes these days (approx 10cm x 2 cm) on hand at all times so that children can write down words from word walls, charts etc. and then take the card back to their writing. It is also handy to write words on when doing writing conferences.
4. Play who am I? ie. (I am yellow, I have 5 letters, and I end in ‘t’).
5. Make a letter twister chart with chalk on a concrete floor, children place their feet and hands on the letters to spell words.
6. Children make their own word wall/dictionary using photocopied small words and scrapbooks labeled with a letter of alphabet on each page...can be added to throughout the year.
7. Play 'Hangman' using the word card words.
8. How quickly can you find a certain word in individual reading books during small group reading.
9. Play dominoes using same end letter/ beginning letter.
10. Circle letters within words using whiteboard marker on laminated word cards.
11. Play Chinese Whispers - say a word - pass it around (try spelling a word and passing it around).
12. Circle letter blends within words using whiteboard marker on laminated word cards.
13. Circle smaller words within words using whiteboard marker on laminated word cards.
14. Children go outside and practice writing their words with chalk on the concrete or on the windows using markers.
15. Practice handwriting by tracing over words using whiteboard marker on laminated word cards.
16. Place word cards in alphabetical order.
17. Flashlight words – turn off lights – flash a torch on words on display for look and say.
18. Around the World Words – flash a word – first player to say word out of that pair moves on to the next person to make a pair and another word is flashed, etc, etc.
19. Play ‘tic tac toe, here I go, where I stop I do not know’ - children say the word that you stop on.
20. Play stepping stones - place words on the floor and children walk over them saying the word as they go to get to the other side of the stream.
21. Play musical words - children pass words around in a circle until music stops - that child says the word - can be played with 1 or more words.
22. Go on a word walk - find words around the environment - signs, etc.
23. Make words using playdough.
24. Make words using string gluing.
25. Make words using letter tiles/scrabble pieces.
26. Make words using stencils.
27. Make words using alphabet stamps.
28. Make words using magnetic letters.
29. Cloze on blackboard - children find the missing word within a sentence.
30. Beat the clock - how many times can a word be written in 1 minute.
31. Beat the clock – how many words can be read in 1 minute.
32. Children write their words in list form and then write over the words 2 or more times using different colours to create rainbow words.
33. Words of the week.
34. Pass out a word to each child, when you call out their word, they may line up or move to a new activity.
35. Word wall - place words under alphabet along wall.
36. Play ‘Snap’ with 2 word packs.
37. Play ‘Snap’ by words with the same initial letter.
38. Play ‘Snap’ by words with the same letter blends.
39. Play ‘Snap’ by words with the same end letters.
40. Play ‘Snap’ by words with the same number of letters.
41. Class / Individual Bingo - children fold an A4 page into 8 then unfold, place the words you want to use in view of the children (about 20 is good). Children chose 8 of those words to copy into their 8 sections. Start calling the 20 words out slowly as children mark off their sheets.
42. Unravel mixed up words i.e. 'het' (the).
43. Find and cut out words from newspapers and magazines - make a collage.
44. Find letters in magazines and newspapers to cut out and make a ‘ransom’ word.
45. Look, cover, write, check.
46. Hide and seek words - hide the words around the room for children to find.
47. Classify/group words by rhyme.
48. Classify/group words by initial letters.
49. Classify/group words by number of letters.
50. Classify/group words by words within words.
51. Classify/group words by double letters.
52. Classify/group words by letter blends.
53. Count how many times a certain word appears in reading books.
54. Play fishing game - make a fishing rod with a magnet on the end and put paper clips on each word.
55. Word of the day.
56. Mini sight words (made from smaller copies). Provide each child with a small, plastic container to keep their mini words in. Gradually add words as they are introduced. Children write their names on the back of each word. Check the containers at the beginning of each term them again with fresh words if they are worn.
57. Play 20 questions - I am thinking of a word...children ask questions to find out what word it is.
58. Play name a word - children clap, stamp, etc. when selected word card appears.
59. Maths - estimate and prove how many cards fit inside a chosen flat surface area.
60. Find and match words in reading books.
61. Find and match words in children’s own writing.
62. Find and match words in shared books.
63. Find and match words in charts / signs/ poems/ songs, etc.
64. Place high frequency words on your computer screen saver.
65. Teacher/Parent says first few letters - children guess the word.
66. Guess the covered word.
67. Add endings to words.
68. Add different beginnings to words.
69. Make a sentence with the words.
70. Play concentration by turning over 2 cards with same initial letter.
71. Play concentration by turning over 2 cards with same ending letter.
72. Play concentration by using 2 identical word packs.
73. Create words that rhyme with word cards.
74. Word Explosions - create new words from letters in word cards.
75. Older children can make a wordsearch using the words from the cards.
76. Write a word on your partner’s back using your finger- what word is it?
77. Make a word train - class, or individual - write weekly words or chosen words from end to end to make a train.
78. Make a word mobile using a coat hanger for certain groups of words.
79. Look and say words in different ways - eg. yelling, whispering, slow, fast, high voices, low voices, etc. (spell them in funny voices too).
80. Play Postman – children lay heads on desk, put out one hand, a selected ‘postman’ places a word card in each letterbox hand, children read their words.
81. On individual mini word cards, colour in certain letter blends, letters, etc. using specific colours.
82. Pair work can be done using individual mini word cards, i.e. Bingo.
83. Writing Race - children have a race to see who can write chosen words on board the fastest.
84. Word Relay - similar to 83, except children actually form relay teams to write words on the board - each child comes forward, writes a word and moves to the back of their team, while the next one comes
85. Paint words in different ways during art lessons – using different media.
86. Make a word chain by writing words on paper strips or streamers and glue them together to make a paper chain.
87. Children say words into a microphone of MP3 recorder - record and play back.
88. Select a word and write 3 versions of it on the board, spelling it correctly only once - children must pick the correct spelling eg.
peeeple , people, people.
89. Select a word from the list and write it on the board, leaving out one letter- children guess the missing letter – can be played in teams or individually.
90. Brainstorm and write associated word families for some of the words, i.e. run – walk – skip – jump –jog.
91. Draw a large picture illustrating 5 or 6 of the words.
92. Make up a class code and write the words in code.
93. Memory Game - played in pairs - group words face up, one player takes a good look at the words then looks away, partner takes one word away - first player writes down the missing word.
94. Write down one word, then create new words by changing one letter – continue until 10 new words have been created, i.e. lost - most – mist – mint.
95. Display words in a way that is related to a theme, i.e. words written on flowers for garden theme. Children can do this individually as well as a class project.
96. Place words on floor, and call out clues such as 'A word beginning with s; a word with 5 letters; a word that ends in 'ed'. Children use the clues to guess the word.
97. One child leaves the room, the rest of the class chooses a word from a set list, child returns and guesses which word was chosen.
98. On whiteboard 2 teams play noughts and crosses - when a word is named and/or spelled correctly, that team draws a cross or nought in a space.
99. Play 'drop the hanky' using a word card instead of a hanky.
100. Make alphabetic word banks from a set of mini cards– similar to word wall, but in smaller containers - these can make it easier for children to take to their desk to copy words.