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Dolch Sight Words: Pre-primer

In the late 1940s, Edward William Dolch, Ph.D. compiled a list of 220 sight words that a child should learn to automatically recognize. He realized the shortcomings of memorizing a standard word list that typically contains five hundred or more words.

Dolch Sight Words

Looking at a list of 220 words can be overwhelming. Where does one start? Thankfully, Dolch categorized his sight word list into five categories:

  • Pre-primer
  • Primer
  • Grade One
  • Grade Two
  • Grade Three

Most children obtain a sight word vocabulary by the end of first grade. In fact, our first grade curriculum encourages a child to both read and write high frequency and sight words correctly by the end of the school year. With that said, I would not ignore the above categories but use them as a reference for introducing new sight words.

Dolch Sight Words – Pre-primer

Dolch selected 40 sight words at the pre-primer level. If your child is an emergent reader or just beginning to obtain a sight word vocabulary, these words are an ideal starting point. Almost half of these words are among the most used words for students in grades kindergarten through second grade. In addition, about a third of all written material is comprised of 25 words; ten of these words are included below in the Dolch Pre-Primer Word List.

a* find is* not three
and* for* it* one to*
away funny jump play* two
big go* little red up
blue help look run* we*
can* here make said where
come I* me* see* yellow
down in* my* the* you*

* Included on Fry’s Primary Students’ Most Used Words and/ or Instant Words List (Top 25)

Dolch’s sight words provide both parents and teachers with a great starting point when helping a child develop a sight word vocabulary.

Source: Fry, E.B., Ph.D. & Kress, J.E., Ed.D. (2006). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists 5th Edition. Sanfransico, CA: Jossey Bass.

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