Sight word lists are a common occurrence especially in the first grade classroom because this is the year that every child is “supposed” to be able to read! But there are several different sets of word lists including first grade Dolch sight words, Fry words, and high frequency words.
So which ones are the right ones to teach? Is there one list that is better than another?
Let’s begin by establishing some important facts. Different school systems, districts, and states have strong opinions about which word lists should be taught.
Therefore, I am not going to give an opinion because you will most likely have that information given to you.
Chances are if you are reading this article, then you are on Team Dolch words. However, it is important to understand which words need to be taught according to the grade lists and how the Dolch word lists are different from the Fry word lists.
What are Dolch Words?
Dolch words are the most frequently occurring words in the English language, and were first introduced as a list in a journal article by Dr. Edward William Dolch back in 1936.
This publication eventually led to his first book entitled Problems in Reading published in 1948.
He compiled this list based on common words found in children’s books written during his time (ie 1930s and 1940s) as opposed to the high-frequency words we find in more modern publications and texts.
There are 220 total Dolch words and the words are divided by grade level. There are 40 words labeled as pre-primer (which would be equivalent to preschool), 52 words labeled primer (or kindergarten), 41 for first grade, 46 for second grade, and 41 for third grade.
These lists of sight words can be taught explicitly and systematically or they can be simply memorized using sight word cards or flash cards.
The key is that young kids need to have these words memorized before they leave that particular grade level.
Are Fry Words and Dolch Words the same thing?
In a word…no. They are both lists of various words that students should know by a certain age, but the different ways the lists are put together is unique to each group.
While Dolch words are broken down by grade level, Fry words are grouped according to frequency of occurrence.
While the Dolch sight words list was compiled in 1948, the Fry sight words list was introduced in 1996 by Dr. Edward Fry. With 1,000 words broken into groups of 100, this is a much more substantial list than the 220 Dolch words.
Both lists are meaningful and you will find many of the Dolch words within the Fry Word lists.
The key is simply to determine which list is the best one for your students (and of course, whichever one your district indicates you need to teach.)
Whichever list you choose, they are both valuable tools in teaching students how to read.
Dolch Word List for for First Grade
There are 41 total words on the dolch sight word list for first graders. This list is put together in alphabetical order and includes the words…
You can find these first grade dolch words in this bundle of sight words that I created for classroom word walls.
It is important that students are presented the words frequently and also that they have access to the words during their writing tasks and independent reading time.
Simply seeing these high frequency words on the wall in the classroom will help them in the memorization process and will also cut down on the dreaded “How do you spell…?” questions.
Students can easily find the word under that letter on the word wall and spell it correctly.
Dolch Noun List
While we are taking a deep dive into first grade dolch sight words, it is important to realize that there is a Dolch Noun list that includes an additional 95 words children should know.
These include…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, good-bye, 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.
Fun Ways to Teach First Grade Dolch Sight Words
Sight Word Candy Land
Just about every child on the planet has played Candy Land. And most kids love it! They don’t have to be able to read to simply follow the colors that are revealed on the card they pick up.
To make this into Sight Word Candy Land, you can have students flip over the regular card first to reveal the color they are to move to. But before they can move, they must flip over the sight word card and say it first!
If they get the sight word correct, they can move the indicated number of spaces on the game board. If they get the word incorrect, they must stay where they are.
Trust me when I tell you that your small groups will be begging to play!
Sight Word Bingo
This is such a fun activity and a great way for students to interact with the sight words.
Played just like traditional Bingo, students simply have game boards with sight words as opposed to numbers.
More Sight Word Games
The amazing thing about sight words is that there are lots of premade games just waiting for you to use. Here are a few more that looked like they would be lots of fun!!
Sight Word Books
You know I couldn’t miss an opportunity to share books!!! But there are sight word books designed to help students practice those new sight words they should be able to recognize in a simple format.
Teaching first grade sight words doesn’t have to be boring! You want it to be enjoyable for your students so they begin to equate reading with fun.
So add in some of the activities and resources I’ve shared to ensure that your students are engaged and invested in the process. This is the fastest way to help them become lifelong readers and lovers of the written word.