Tips for Helping a Child Learn Sight Words!

One of the most powerful tools that parents and teachers can teach young readers is the ability to recognize and read sight words. Between 50 – 75% of words we see in children’s books, novels, newspapers and magazines are what we call ‘sight words’. E.W. Dolch created the Dolch-sight Word list in 1936, which contains 220 commonly used words that, when recognized by sight, increase a reader’s fluency. Many of these words do not follow standard phonics principles so they can’t be ‘sounded out’. Here are some tips for helping children learn their sight words:

1-Mnemonics: Mnemonics are devices, such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assist an individual in remembering something specific. Here are some mnemonics you can use for a selection of sight words:
a.) Could, would, should – “O U Lucky Duck”
b.) Here, where and there – “It’s not over here it’s over there. Where is it? It’s here.
c.) Know – “I know this word has no in the middle.”
d.) Does – Does Oliver Eat Sweets? Yes he does! *Have the student draw a picture of ‘Oliver’ eating sweets and have them write the word ‘does’ below it. This will help them associate an image with the sentence.

2-Word Families: Focus on groups of words from the sight word lists that have the same spelling patterns:
a.) Right, eight, light (igh)
b.) Who, what, where, why, when, which, white (wh)
c.) Could, would, should, your, about, around, four (ou)
d.) Eat, clean, read, please (ea)
e.) Goes, does (oe)
f.) Look, good (oo)

Have students use them in a sentence: ‘There were eight lights to my right.’

3- Online Games: Below are a few online games that can help motivate students to practice their sight words:
Dolch word memory starting at list #1: Memory Game
A fun and customizable sight word game: Star Words
Sight Word sentence activity: I can Read
Dolch word games organized by list: Room 108 Dolch Word Games

Helping a child learn their sight words can improve their fluency, accuracy and confidence in reading!
For information about individualized learning and academic support, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space (416) 925-1225 or visit


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