Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Teach Your Kids to Read Fast through Sight Words and these Resources

One of the benefits of homeschooling our children is that I learn with them in the process.  I learn as I research and plan activities and games for our homeschool.  SIGHT WORDS and FRY WORDS are some of the new things I learned while thinking of ways to teach my eldest son, Yanthy, how to read. 

Yanthy enjoying his board book when he was still a baby.

Let me share what I learned about SIGHT WORDS and FRY WORDS so far.
  • Sight words are words that you cannot read through phonics or by sounding out the letters that make up the words.  Thus, you learn to read them by recognition or out of memory.  The more often you see them, the faster that you'll recognize and read them as you see them. 

  • There are thousands of sight words!  I initially thought that there are only hundreds of sight words.  I was surprised to find out that there are thousands!  3,000 to be exact!

  • In 1948, Dr. Edward Dolch first published a book on sight words in his book entitled "Problems in Reading."  He made a list of 220 words which were most frequently used in children's books in the 1930's and 1940's.  He also arranged these words by level of difficulty.  These words are recommended to be learned and mastered by third grade.  Dolch's sight words include include pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs.  There is also a list of Dolch nouns numbering 95 words.  You can check out the list of Dolch sight words here.

  •  In 1996, Dr. Edward B. Fry published a book entitled "Fry 1000 Instant Words."  Dr. Fry expanded on Dr. Dolch's sight words list.  Through his research, he discovered that:
           1. 1/2 or 50% of the materials we read can be narrowed down to 100 common words.
           2. 1/3 of the written materials published are 25 commonly used words.
           3. 65% of published materials can be reduced to a list of 300 frequently used words

    Since these 300 words compose more than half of all newspaper articles, textbooks and children's books, it is thus important that kids learn and master them.  Learning and mastering them are vital to growth not only as readers but learners as a whole since we learn a lot through reading.  It's one of the foundations to a lifetime of learning.   

    Dr. Fry arranged these words by level based on frequency.  It is recommended that kids master their FIRST 100 FRY WORDS by Grade 1, SECOND 100 FRY WORDS by Grade 2, THIRD 100 FRY WORDS by Grade 3, and UNTIL 1,000 FRY WORDS from Grade 4 to 5.

You can find this a bit overwhelming if this is the first time you encountered this.  I also felt that way when I learned about their number and when my husband showed me this website more than a year ago.  But as days and months passed (even while I was pregnant with my second baby and had very little time to "teach" my eldest son), I noticed that Yanthy has been learning a lot and has been improving his reading skills by simply reading at least one book every day.  We recently found out with the help of this site that our eldest son who is only 3 years old knows how to read roughly 200 sight words as of this writing.  It's possible that he can read more because we have just started using the assessment tool and list to check what words he already knows and what he can't read yet.

Yanthy reads one of his Phonics-in-Reading book.

Since I have already given birth and my baby is a bit bigger and eating solids already, I resolve to spend more time using these FREE resources that are available online.  They have activities, flash cards, games, writing exercises, assessment tools, and many more!  Check out these sites yourself to find out!

I also recommend the Phonics-in-Reading Series where sight words and phonics are used in the stories to help young readers or struggling readers develop their reading skills systematically.  You can read my book review of this series here.

Hope this post and these resources help your kids in their reading adventure!

April 27, 2013 Update: I asked my eldest to read the list of Sight Words arranged according to levels yesterday to check his reading level. I was pleasantly surprised that he breezed through all levels from pre-primer to Grade 3. He's only 4.5 years old. I have yet to make him try reading the next lists to find out if he can also read those in the higher levels.

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