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Kindergarten Reading Skills | Sight Words

Connection to Reading

Sight words will make up 50-75% of the books your child will begin reading. Children who can recognize sight words quickly will strengthen their reading fluency and comprehension. When children can read sight words effortlessly, they can spend their energy on sounding out more difficult words or understanding the story’s meaning.

Sight words are memorized as whole words because they often do not follow the regular rules for sounds.

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Children can read a few commonly used words by sight. They may begin to write the sight words. A good goal is to learn 20 sight words by the end of Kindergarten. The purpose of learning sight words is for children to recognize them instantly while they’re reading.

The first 20 sight words:

the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I


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The most important aspect of teaching sight words is teaching kids WHY they must memorize these whole words. Sight words have an important job because without them a lot of books and writing would not make sense. We’re learning them so we can enjoy a good story and read words to learn. As much as possible, point out sight words when you see them so students can see their role in stories.

Start easy

Focus on only one or two words for a week. Any more than this before your child is ready will just overwhelm and frustrate them. Remind them that a lot of times sight words don’t follow the spelling and sound rules, they can be tricky!

Paper Color Words for Flash Cards

Once you’ve chosen one or two words, write them clearly, in large, thick lowercase letters on a piece of paper or notecard. Write only one word per piece of paper or notecard. Have your child color the paper to give it a blue background. Or use color paper or notecards. Using any color will help the word stand out visually and in your child’s memory. Use these as flashcards for your child to go over their sight words each day. It will only take a few minutes and kids will feel proud to master their words!

Word Boxing

Another technique to help kids remember words is to “box” the letters. After you have written a sight word on a piece of paper, carefully draw a box around each letter. These boxes will help children visualize the words in their mind so they can retain them.


Trace It and Tap It!

Try this quick 2 minute technique to help your child remember any sight word they have!

  1. Write a sight word on a note card or flash card in clear lowercase letter handwriting. Tell your child what the word is, then have them repeat it back to you.
  2. Have your child trace each letter on the flashcard using the back of a pen or pencil, say the name of each letter as they trace it. Then say the whole word while underlining it. Do this 2 more times.
  3. Now, trace the word on the table using their finger. Say each letter as you trace it then say the whole word while underlining it. Do this 2 times. Have them try to trace it from memory on their last try.
  4. Next, using the hand they write with, tap each letter of the word down their opposite arm. For example: how, “h” tap the shoulder, “o” tap the elbow, and “w” tap the wrist.
  5. Finally, if your child has started writing, have your child write the word in a notebook.
  6. Your child has mastered this new word when they can show you that they can read the word at least 5 times on their own, while its in the context of a book.

Add a Picture

For many kids, it’s easier to visualize a picture with a word. If you’re writing sight words on note cards or pieces of paper, add a small picture or detail that might help them remember it. For example, for the word “my”, you could draw a small girl hugging the letter “y” to show her saying “my”! For the word “it”, you could draw a small creature that looks like a thing or an “it”. For the word “in”, you could draw the word “in” inside of a bubble.

Act it Out

All children benefit from acting out words. Bring a new word to life by creating a movement or gesture to help them build an association to the word. For example, for the word “my,” kids can wrap their arms around themselves and say “my” while looking at the word. For “you,” they can point both their hands at you while repeating the word “you” they read from the card.

Tell Me a Sentence

Sight words are meaningless until we know how to use these words in our own conversations. Have your child tell you an original sentence using their new word. This can be challenging, so be ready to slow down with your child as they try to use their new word in a sentence and give lots of high fives when they can use it correctly!

Sight word: live

“We live in North Carolina, but my grandma lives in Georgia.”

Make Wormy Words

Using brightly colored yarn, cut out short (about 3 inches), medium (about 6 inches) and long (about 10 inches) pieces. Lay a blanket or towel flat on the floor for a dark backdrop. Have your child form the sight words they are learning on the cloth using the pieces of yarn. This approach helps commit the word to their long-term memory.

Sight Word Ninja

Tell your child that sight words appear silently in the world around us. Every time your child spots a sight word out in the world of words such as on a coupon, in a story, or on a piece of mail, they should point it out and celebrate! The purpose of this activity is for students to get excited about recognizing words and get a boost of confidence from knowing how to read them.

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Children's Reading Resource | Pre-K - 3rd Grade | Home Reading Helper


The Fry Word list and the Dolch word list are very similar; schools usually pick one or the other to use with their students.

Dolch Word List by Grade

First 100 Fry Words

Children's Reading Resource | Pre-K - 3rd Grade | Home Reading Helper


Use sight word games to help build kids’ fluency skills. This will make your child a stronger and faster reader. Out of Sight Words Sight Word Bingo

Watch: Sight Words Game


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