Sight words and high-frequency words are huge components of reading instruction. However, many only consider what are sight words kindergarten students need to know, not knowing there is a difference. Generally, teachers and educators use the two interchangeably, incorrectly believing the two to be synonymous. But knowing the distinction between high-frequency words in kindergarten and the sight words in your curriculum is a critical part of ensuring high-quality literacy instruction for your students.

what are sight words kindergarten

What Is A Sight Word?

A sight word is a word that is recognized “at first sight”. It is a word that children are highly familiar with. Overall, the hope is that they don’t have to stop and decode its spelling or meaning. In other words, simply seeing those letters in order will be enough for them to immediately recognize the word, pronunciation, and meaning. Additionally, any word can be a sight word given enough instruction. Although, sight words are commonly short and easy to read.

What is a High Frequency Word?

A high-frequency word is a word that students come across often. They appear most frequently in written text. For example, some high-frequency words are common words like “the,” “and,” “at,” “an,” and “is.” These are words that a student will come across in virtually any piece of text. Because of that, it is highly advantageous for them to recognize them instantly. Otherwise, they would have to stop and decode them every time. This could make their reading speed considerably slower.

Can Sight Words and High Frequency Words Be The Same?

Furthermore, many of the sight words taught in the classroom should be high frequency words. That will speed up their reading speed and make it easier for them to understand the text. However, just because there is overlap does not mean they are the same. In other words, many sight words may not be high frequency words. For example, you may want to include sight words like “mom,” “dad,” or the name of students. This can make it easier for children to write and read classroom communication or write about their day. Similarly, some high-frequency words aren’t necessary to teach as sight words. Words like “I” and “a” are so simple to decode that they may not be worth teaching as sight words.

Sight Word Lists

The sight words you choose to teach in your classroom will vary based on the existing skills of your students. In fact, you may add or remove words based on what you study in your classroom or what your students are interested in. However, starting with this sight words kindergarten list is a great place to start:

a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you, all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, 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, yes

high frequency words kindergarten

High Frequency Word Lists

On the other hand, high-frequency words are more likely to be consistent across all kindergarten classrooms. However, you may still find yourself adjusting this list based on the high-frequency words kindergarten students in your classroom find. Due to this, start working from this high-frequency words kindergarten list and adjust it as needed for your students:

a, me, to, yes, big, I, go, in, cat, for, is, at, on, dog, he, the, you, like, up, she, mom, we, my, with, this, dad, it, by, said, look, can, no, love, play, went, see, am, do, was, and

Teaching Sight Words

All in all, appropriate sight words instruction is an important part of classroom teaching. Obviously, having a strong grasp of sight words is crucial for a smooth transition into independent reading. However, it’s important to make sure students have fun. Having fun, simple sight word activities will keep reading enjoyable. Students will build a positive relationship with reading that will continue throughout their life. Try out these sight words kindergarten games to give your students some fun and exciting reading practice.

Sight Words Bingo

One great sight words kindergarten game is sight word bingo. To begin with, pass out cards to each student that contain a grid of boxes with sight words in each box. Then start calling out sight words. When the children hear the words, they locate and mark the word on their own paper. Then, once they have a full row, column, or diagonal marked, they can call out “bingo!” to win. This helps them learn to quickly recognize their sight words. Also, they can work on listening skills and communication with this activity.

Sight Words Go Fish

Another great game for practicing sight words is Sight Words Go Fish. Sight Words Go Fish is a vocabulary-themed variation of the classic Go Fish card game, for 2-4 players. The goal is to collect more pairs of matching cards than anyone else. When it is their turn, they pick a card from their hand. Next, they ask the rest of the players at the table if they have a matching one. Then, other players check their hand to see if they do. If so, they have to give it to the player who asked. If not, the player must “go fish” by drawing a new card from the deck. When a player has a pair of matching cards, they remove the pair from the game and earn a point. It is another fun way to give children extensive exposure to a variety of sight words.

When there is appropriate instruction of both sight words and high-frequency words, you can greatly improve the literacy instruction of your kindergarten classroom. Overall, students will improve the speed of their reading and find a new excitement for literacy. Additionally, you can even have a lot of fun as a class with these learning activities. Did you try out one of these sight word games? Then let us know in the comments below!

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