Dolch Sight Words

Last Updated: March 28, 2024

Dolch Sight Words

The Dolch Sight Words list emerges as a cornerstone in nurturing foundational reading skills. Crafted in the mid-20th century by the insightful educator Dr. Edward William Dolch, this compilation transcends mere vocabulary. It encompasses 220 pivotal “service words” along with 95 high-frequency nouns, meticulously selected from children’s books of that era. Remarkably, these words form the backbone of young readers’ experiences, accounting for 80% of the lexicon in children’s literature and 50% in adult prose. The genius of the Dolch list lies in its simplicity and effectiveness, offering a direct pathway to reading fluency by allowing learners to swiftly decode a vast majority of common text, thereby dedicating their cognitive resources to unraveling the nuances of new words. With its words organized alphabetically by grade, by frequency, and in some cases, a combination of both, the Dolch Sight Words list is not just a tool but a transformative approach to reading education, enabling seamless integration into classroom practices or home learning environments.

What are Dolch words?

Dolch words, also known as Dolch Sight Words, are a set of English language words that Dr. Edward William Dolch identified as key for reading fluency. Compiled in the 1930s-40s, this list includes 220 “service words” and an additional 95 high-frequency nouns. Dolch determined these words by analyzing children’s books of his time, noting that these words represent a significant portion of the text in young children’s reading materials. The uniqueness of Dolch words lies in their high frequency and the fact that many cannot be easily sounded out or illustrated, making recognition by sight crucial for early reading development. Knowing these words enables children to understand approximately 75% of the vocabulary in children’s literature, significantly aiding in reading fluency and comprehension.

Dolch Sight Word Lists

List of Dolch Sight Words

Pre-K Dolch Sight Words Kindergarten Dolch Sight Words First Grade Dolch Sight Words Second Grade Dolch Sight Words Third Grade Dolch Sight Words
a all after always about
and am again around better
away are an because bring
big as and been carry
blue at any before clean
can ate as best cut
come be ask both done
down black by buy draw
find brown could call drink
for but every cold eat
funny came fly does fall
go can from don’t far
help come give fast full
here did going first got
I do had five grow
in eat has found hold
is four her gave hot
it get him goes hurt
jump good his green if
little have how its keep
look he just made kind
make into know many laugh
me like let off light
my must live or long
not new may pull much
one no of read myself
play now old right never
red on once sing only
run our open sit own
said out over sleep pick
see please put tell seven
the pretty round their shall
three ran some these show
to ride stop those six
two saw take upon small
up say thank us start
we see them use ten
where she then very today
yellow so think wash together
you soon walk which try
that were why warm
there when wish
they work
this would
too write
under your

Pre-K Dolch Sight Words (40 words)

Tailored for preschoolers, these words lay the foundational literacy blocks, focusing on simple, high-frequency terms to kickstart early reading skills.
List: 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.

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Kindergarten Dolch Sight Words (52 words)

Expanding on Pre-K foundations, these words include essential verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, crucial for forming simple sentences and further reading development.
List: 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.

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First Grade Dolch Sight Words (41 words)

Targeted at first graders, this list enhances vocabulary with more complex words, aiding in the comprehension of slightly more advanced texts.
List: after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, going, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when.

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Second Grade Dolch Sight Words (46 words)

Curated for second graders, this list bolsters their vocabulary with terms that are instrumental for grasping more nuanced narratives and instructions.
List: always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don’t, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your.

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Third Grade Dolch Sight Words (41 words)

Targeting third-grade readers, this collection introduces a higher level of complexity, supporting critical thinking and comprehension skills essential for academic progression.
List: about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm.

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Noun Dolch Sight Words (95 words)

Focusing exclusively on nouns, this assortment enriches a student’s lexicon with words representing tangible objects, individuals, and places, fostering a richer descriptive skill set.

List: apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, mother, morning, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood.

Dolch sight words with Meanings and Usage

Word Grade Level Meaning Usage in a Sentence
and Pre-K Used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly. “She bought apples and oranges.”
like Kindergarten To enjoy or approve of something or someone. “I like playing outside.”
after First Grade In the time following (an event or another period of time). “We went home after the movie.”
before Second Grade At an earlier time. “Finish your homework before you watch TV.”
about Third Grade On the subject of; concerning. “We read a book about dinosaurs.”

Teaching Dolch sight words

Teaching Dolch Sight Words is a fundamental approach to enhancing reading fluency and comprehension in early education. These high-frequency words, which are difficult to sound out using phonics alone, comprise a significant portion of the text in children’s books, making their recognition crucial for young readers. Here’s a detailed overview of teaching Dolch sight words:

Strategy and Importance

  • Whole Word Recognition: The Dolch sight words are taught primarily through whole word recognition, which encourages students to recognize these words by sight, improving reading speed and efficiency.
  • Repetition and Exposure: Repetitive exposure through flashcards, reading practice, and engaging activities helps embed these words in a student’s memory.
  • Contextual Learning: Using Dolch words in sentences and stories enhances understanding and retention by providing context, which aids in recognizing the words in different settings.

Techniques for Teaching

  • Flashcards: A time-tested method where each card displays a Dolch word. Students learn through repeated exposure and testing.
  • Interactive Games: Games designed to recognize and recall Dolch words can make learning fun and effective, such as word bingo or memory match.
  • Reading Practice: Incorporating books and passages that heavily feature Dolch sight words helps students practice in a natural reading context.
  • Writing Exercises: Encouraging students to write sentences using Dolch words reinforces their understanding and ability to use them in communication.

Incorporating Technology

  • Educational Apps: Numerous apps are designed to help children learn Dolch words through interactive and engaging activities.
  • Online Resources: Websites offer printable resources, activities, and games tailored to teaching and practicing Dolch sight words.

Assessment and Progress Tracking

  • Regular assessments through reading exercises or quizzes help track progress and identify words that require more focus.
  • Personalized learning plans can be adjusted based on a student’s mastery of the words, ensuring that each child progresses at an appropriate pace.

Encouraging Home Practice

  • Engaging caregivers in the learning process by providing Dolch word lists and suggesting activities for home practice can significantly enhance a child’s learning experience.
  • Reading together at home using books appropriate for the child’s reading level encourages practice in a supportive environment.

Addressing Challenges

  • Each child learns at their own pace, so it’s important to be patient and provide additional support and resources as needed.
  • Creative teaching methods, such as using songs, stories, or art, can help engage students who may find traditional methods challenging.

Who can benefit from Dolch words?

Young Readers

Children in preschool through third grade are the primary beneficiaries of learning Dolch words. Introducing these high-frequency words at an early age helps establish a foundation for reading fluency. Since these words appear in up to 75% of children’s reading material, mastering them allows young readers to navigate most texts more smoothly, fostering a love for reading and learning.

English Language Learners (ELLs)

For students learning English as a second language, Dolch words offer a stepping stone to understanding everyday English quickly. These words, being common and frequently used, appear in various contexts, aiding ELLs in enhancing their reading comprehension and conversational skills.

Students with Learning Disabilities

Children and individuals with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, can greatly benefit from the focused study of Dolch Sight Words. These words, often challenging to decode phonetically, are taught through visual memory, helping to alleviate some of the difficulties dyslexic learners face when reading.

Adult Literacy Students

Adults who are learning to read or improving their literacy skills later in life find the Dolch words list a valuable resource. Learning these high-frequency words helps in quickly gaining reading proficiency, essential for daily life tasks and improving job prospects.

Teachers and Educators

Teachers, especially those in early childhood education and ESL, use Dolch words as a key component of their literacy curriculum. Knowing which words offer the most significant leverage in reading fluency helps educators design effective lesson plans and activities that cater to diverse learning needs.

Parents and Guardians

Parents and guardians who are actively involved in their child’s early education can use Dolch Sight Words for at-home learning activities. This not only supports the child’s learning process but also provides a valuable bonding experience through shared reading sessions.

Tips to Remember Dolch Sight Words

. Start with a Few Words at a Time

  • Begin with a small set of words. Overwhelming children with too many words at once can hinder their ability to remember them.

2. Use Flashcards

  • Flashcards are a timeless and effective tool. Show the word, say it out loud, and use it in a sentence. Regular review sessions can significantly boost memory retention.

3. Create Word Walls

  • Dedicate a space on a wall at home or in the classroom where you display the Dolch Sight Words. Regular exposure during everyday activities helps reinforce their memory.

4. Incorporate into Daily Activities

  • Encourage reading and identifying sight words during daily activities, such as reading storybooks, signs, or labels.

5. Utilize Repetitive Reading

  • Practice reading books that are repetitive and incorporate a high frequency of Dolch Sight Words. Repetition in different contexts helps solidify understanding.

6. Engage in Word Games

  • Games like word bingo, memory match, or word fishing can make learning fun and engaging, thereby enhancing recall.


What is the difference between Dolch words and sight words?

Dolch words are a specific list of 220 service words and 95 nouns identified by Dr. Edward Dolch as crucial for reading. Sight words, more broadly, are words that readers recognize instantly without needing to decode.

What is the difference between fry and dolch sight words?

Fry words are a list of 1,000 words compiled by Dr. Edward Fry, updated to reflect frequency and usage in modern language. Dolch words focus on a core set of 220 words essential for young readers.

What grade should all Dolch words be mastered by?

Dolch words are intended to be mastered by the end of third grade. This mastery is crucial for reading fluency and comprehension, as these words make up a high percentage of text in early reading materials.

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