Sight words are words that are immediately recognized without having to think about them. Sight words are high frequency words, constituting more than 50 percent of the words that kindergartners and other young children will come across. Some sight words don’t sound the way they are spelled so rather than relying on phonics to sound them out, learning and recognizing the word by sight is easier. Furthermore, some words simply cannot be portrayed in pictures.


Some words are hard if not impossible to portray via pictures so they need to be learned as sight words and recognized quickly so that children can acquire reading ease. For example, teaching the word dog is relatively easy. Show the children a picture of a dog with the word dog written underneath it. But how do you teach the child the word "of," which is a sight word.

Dolch and Fry Lists

Sight words are often referred to as the Dolch Word List, which include the words in the English language that are most often used. There are 200 sight words on this list. The top 10 sight words from the Dolch Word List include: the, to, and, he, a, I, you, it, of, and in. The Fry List, introduced in 1993 by Dr. Donald B. Fry expands on the Dolch list and the sight words are arranged on the list in the order of their use frequency. Teaching sight words to students early is the standard approach in elementary schools.

Service Words

The Dolch list of words contains what is called “service words,” including adverbs, pronouns, adjectives, conjunctions, verbs and prepositions, which can’t be learned through pictures. The teacher holds up flash cards featuring the word and the students begin to recognize the word itself the more they see the word.

Kindergarten Sight Words

The complete list of Dolch kindergarten sight words includes: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, ate, be, 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 and yes. The Fry list includes 300 sight words.

Flash Cards

Parents can use sight word flash cards as can teachers to familiarize children with these words. Children pick up on this quickly when repeatedly shown the same word.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.