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High Frequency Words (15 Fun Sight Word Activities)
Let’s talk about what high frequency words are, and how to have fun learning them. Whether you are looking for activities to do at home or in the classroom, these games for high frequency words will help your reader build fluency, reinforce high frequency words, and engage them with hands-on reading strategies.
What are High-Frequency Words
High frequency words, also referred to as sight words, are the most common words in the English language . According to Reading A-Z, 50 percent of all text is composed of high frequency words.
Why are Sight Words Important
Sometimes known as sight words, high frequency words are important to learn to become a fluent reader. A reader’s fluency is composed of their speed, accuracy, and expression.
If the kids become stuck on sounding out word by word, they will lose comprehension. Therefore, by learning to read these most commonly used words in text (high frequency words) by memorization, emergent readers will instantly recognize these words and increase their speed and accuracy.
Activities to Practice High Frequency Words
As a former kindergarten teacher, parents often ask me “How do I teach my 5 year old sight words?”, and “How can I make learning sight words fun?” The truth is there are many ways to make learning to read fun.
These sight word activities will engage kids in a multi-sensory approach to learning how to read. Both parents and teachers will see that fun sight word games are at their fingertips with many of these household items.
1. Sight Word Superstars
Your kids will become “Sight Word Superstars” with these printable activities. Each sheet has the kids practicing their high frequency words 6 different ways!
First, you get to choose which set if best for your kids. Then, they will trace, write, find and circle, tap and read, use in a sentence, and build the word!
2. Popsicle Stick Sight Word Game
Write the sight words on Popsicle sticks. Write “DYNAMITE” on a couple sticks. Put them in a jar. Pull them out
one-by-one, read the word. If you pull dynamite, you have to put them all back in the jar.
I used this game often as a reading tutor for kindergarten, first, and second grade. We would play in a small group, but this is also great as a time filler for the whole class.
3. Write the Words in Salt
Writing the words in sand is a great sensory-based strategy to practice high frequency words. Pour some salt into a small cookie sheet, and let the kids use their finger to write the word.
4. Magnetic Letter Sight Words
Spelling sight words with magnetic letters is a simple hands-on approach to reading.
You can build high frequency words on a file cabinet, refrigerator, on a magnetic dry-erase board, or without a magnetic surface. Simply lay the magnetic letters out on a table to spell the sight words.
The kids can pull from a collection of sight word cards, and build the word using the magnetic letters, and write the word. This awesome magnetic letter kit, posted in my classroom must-haves, comes with foam magnetic letters already sorted and labeled. a magnetic dry-erase board, letter cards, dry-erase markers, and fun holiday magnets.
5. Sight Word Hunt with Nursery Rhymes
Did you know children who are frequently exposed to nursery rhymes early on, are much more likely to develop strong reading skills? It’s true! This is why I use nursery rhymes to teach kids how to read. You can read more on my post about popular nursery rhyme songs for kids.
After introducing a new printable nursery rhyme, let the kids hunt through and highlight the sight words you are focusing on.
6. Sight Word Tic-Tac-Toe
Add a twist to a classic game. Let the kids pull a sight word card. Then, they read it, use it in a sentence or spell it before adding an X or O to the board.
7. Sight Word War
Playing with a partner, use 2 stacks of sight word cards, each player flips over a card. Whoever reads the sight word first keeps the cards. If they flip the same word card, it’s War! Then, they lay 2 facing down, and the third one flipped up. Whoever reads that third one fastest, wins that pile. In the end, the kid with the most card, wins.
8. Use Wikki Stix
The kids love using Wikki Stix to make words, numbers, and shapes. Why not let them use Wikki Stix to make the sight words?
9. Shaving Cream Sight Words
Write the high frequency words in a dab of shaving cream on the table. Shaving cream writing is excellent for sensory based interventions.
Using shaving cream for spelling words and writing sight words are just a few of the shaving cream activities for kids who are kinesthetic learners. You can also make shaving cream playdough and have the kids make the words with that.
10. LEGO Sight Word Game
Use dry erase markers to write sight words on the side of legos, and place them in a pile. Call out a word, have your child find the lego with that word, and add to the tower. There are endless sight word lego activities for kids.
If your child is doing well at recognizing the sight words, but has difficulty spelling them, you can write individual letters on the legos and have them build the word.
You will want to use the large Mega Blocks if writing the whole word, such as the ones used for my pictures. The standard lego size is too small. Did you know LEGOS are on my list for the 10 Best Learning Toys for Kids?
11. Flashlight Tag With Sight Words
Hang sight words around the house, or in the classroom. Then, turn off the lights, call out a sight word, and have your little learner find it with a flashlight.
12. Sight Word Tallies
Write 5 sight words on a piece of paper. Search through books and magazines, and put tally marks next to the words as you find the words.
13. PlayDoh Sight Words
Use playdoh to form the letters and build the sight words. In the video below, you will see how my first grade students used playdough to make high frequency words. After they form the word, they trace it with their finger, then use the word in a sentence. As a follow up, have your kiddos write the sight word, or write a sentence using the sight word.
14. Play I Have, Who Has
I Have Who Has is a fun way to practice any skill. In this case, the kids can practice reading sight words with family members, in a small group, or in a whole class setting.
The kids read the high-frequency word on their card, then ask who has the word printed on the bottom half of their card. The video below is a demonstration of I Have, Who Has being played in a small group.
You can choose from the following printable I Have, Who Has games below:
- Pre-Primer Sight Words I Have, Who Has
- Primer Sight Words I Have, Who Has
- First Grade Sight Words I Have, Who Has
15. Use Traditional Flashcards
You can also print a set of sight word flashcards, or write the words on index cards, and review 5-10 a night.
Free Sight Word Printable
Teaching kids how to read requires patience and daily practice. Parents often want to help at home, but aren’t sure what to do. You can get this free letter as a reminder of how to help kids with sight words at home.
High Frequency Word List
If you look over an elementary school’s curriculum, you may find they have a list of words per grade level, along with reading materials, word rings, class books, and more for the young children to use.
Typically, there are two major lists of common sight words young readers will learn from. They are the dolch words and fry words.
Pre-Primer: the, to, and, a, I, you, it, in, said, for, up, look, is, go, we, little, down, can, see, not, one, my, me, big, come, blue, red, where, jump, away, here, help, make, yellow, two, play, run, find, three, funny
Primer: he, was, that, she, on, they, but, at, with, all, there, out, be, have, am, do, did, what, so, get, like, this, will, yes, went, are, now, no, came, ride, into, good, want, too, pretty, four, saw, well, ran, brown, eat, who, new, must, black, white, soon, our, ate, say, under, please
First Grade Words: of, his, had, him, her, some, as, then, could, when, were, them, ask, an, over, just, from, any, how, know, put, take, every, old, by, after, think, let, going, walk, again, may, stop, fly, round give, once, open, has, live, thank
Second Grade Words: would, very, your, its, around, don’t right, green, their, call, sleep, five, wash, or, before, been, off, cold, tell, work, first, does, goes, write, always, made, gave, us, buy, those, use, fast, pull, both, sit, which, read, why, found, because, best, upon, these, sing, wish, many
Fry List of Words:
Fry words, unlike the Dolch list, are not broken down into grade level. The kids, however, are introduced to new words after mastering each group of 100. This does not mean young children are expected to learn 100 instant words at once. Most often, the teachers break down the expected amount of words to learn in groups of 5-10 at a time, week after week.
Fry’s First 100 Words: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I , at, be, this, have, from, or, one, had, by, words, but, not, what, all, were, we, when, your, can, said, there, use, an, each, which, she, do, how, their, if, will, up, other, about, out, many, then, them, these, so, some, her, would, make, like, him, into, time, has, look, two, more, write, go, see, number, no, way, could, people, my, than, first, water, been, called, who, am, its, now, find, long, down, day, did, get, come, made, may, part.
You can search for the remaining words,- they are known as the second and third lists. The Fry and dolch sight words increase in difficulty as the kids get older.
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