We have terrific news! Our dedicated staff of teachers at RRLS has been working diligently on designing and compiling a series of activities to support Dolch sight word learning. Since we have a wealth of ideas and resources readily available at our centre, we wanted to create an activity pack that would be both engaging and meaningful to learners outside of our classrooms. All of our hard work has paid off, and we are now proud to share the Dolch Word Power Pack! This worksheet and supplementary games package includes many opportunities to practise the reading and spelling of Dolch words, and can be found on our Teachers Pay Teachers store page.
History of Dolch “A child’s language development is, next to his character, the most important part of (his) school experience.” – Edward Dolch
Edward William Dolch compiled a list of “service” (sight) words in 1948. This list was published in his book Problems in Reading, and is referred to as The Dolch Word List. Dolch used the term “service” or “tool” to describe them because they are needed in order to read and write any material. By researching popular children’s books during that era, as well as collaborating with teachers and other professionals in early literacy instruction, Dolch was able to determine which words were most frequently used in the English language. In fact, 50-80% of all words in any given written material are considered “Dolch” words. The 220 words include:
- 6 conjunctions- used to join clauses
- 16 prepositions- used to introduce phrases
- 26 pronouns- used to represent people or things
- 34 adverbs- used to modify verbs
- 46 adjectives- used to modify nouns
- 92 verbs- used to denote action
Of the 220 words, none of them are nouns. The list is divided into grade levels, but students are encouraged to learn to read them all by the end of Grade 1 (learning to write them may take longer). Fluency in reading the Dolch words is necessary to develop literacy skills. Even though many of these words are not phonetically decodable, instant recall of both decodable and non-decodable is beneficial.
Sight Words and the “Whole-Word” Approach “Growth of reading skill requires the accumulation of a huge vocabulary of sight words in memory.” (Ehri, 2004)
The “whole-word” approach to beginning reading is still in wide use today. This means that a learner will practise memorizing a word so that they can recognize it by “sight”. Memorizing words promotes fluency in reading. Certain words in the English language are categorized as “sight words” because they occur frequently and tend not to follow the established sound-symbol correspondence. Therefore, they are difficult to sound out (phonetically decode). For many of these words, using picture cues in stories will not help as well (think, of, her, the, by), so memorization is the only way to learn them.
Teaching and Learning The Dolch Word List with the RRLS Dolch Power Pack Helping children learn sight words will assist them in reading more fluently. There are many fun and engaging ways to help rehearse and promote the ease of retrieval of these words. Here at the Learning Space, we use a variety of kinesthetic activities such as ‘Bowl-n-Read’ and ‘Link and Line’. We also play variations of flash card games, such as Go Fish, Old Maid, Snap, and Memory to support fluency. In addition, we make sure to incorporate reading and writing exercises that contain the Dolch list words. Below is a picture of a student using an activity sheet from the new Dolch Word Power Pack. He also is using another popular kinesthetic activity at our centre, sand writing. All of the games and activities suggested in our Dolch Power Pack are ones that we use every day here at the RRLS. Along with game and activity suggestions, the pack provides a variety of pencil-and-paper activities to promote Dolch word learning. Each pack contains specific focus lists of ten Dolch words each, organized according to frequency. Each list then has its own set of flashcards, as well as activity sheets that study the focus words. The activities are designed with specific purposes in mind. Children will learn to visualize words based on the letter shapes that comprise the words using our “Spell-in-the-Box” activities. Then, children will rehearse writing the words with our “ABC Line-Up” and “Word Scrambler” activities. Finally, children will practise reading the words in our “A-MAZE-ing” and “Fill-In Fun” sheets. Learning Dolch words doesn’t have to be difficult or boring. Make it fun and engaging with the RRLS Dolch Power Pack, available at Teachers Pay Teachers.
For more information about how to develop language learning in children, please contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at 416.925.1225 or visit www.ruthrumack.com.