If you have a child, you’ve heard you need to teach them sight words to read. But there is an easier way with sight words sorted by sounds.
No doubt if you’re thinking about how to teach your child to read, you’ve heard all about sight words. You’ve seen the flashcards and the Youtube videos.
But there is an easier and more efficient way to learn sight words than to memorize them. That is to sort sight words by sounds (ie sort sight words by phonics skills).
So you can grab those flashcards and then grab my free printable list of sight words sorted by sounds. Then block of time to sort those flashcards by phonics skills. This post shows you how!
What are sight words?
Sight words are words people recognize instantly with no effort. A lot of people use the term sight word interchangeably with high-frequency words – but they are different.
For the purpose of this post, I will use sight words to refer to high-frequency words as that is how most parents understand sight words. For a thorough introduction, start with my sight words post.
How to Teach Sight Words to Struggling Readers
When I taught, I’d give parents a list of the 220 Dolch words their children needed to read fluently by the end of the year. The Dolch words are organized by frequency so common words like “and” and “the” are learned early.
But as the parent of a dyslexic child, it no longer makes sense to teach the words in their order of frequency.
For children struggling to read, it’s better to group the sight words by sounds and teach them along with other words in that pattern.
Sure, your child will have probably memorized some of the sight words like “the” and “love” by the time you get to that spelling pattern.
However, teaching them by sounds will greatly reduce the number of words your child has to memorize. Plus it will greatly improve the speed with which they can learn new words.
Sight Words sorted by Sounds
I took the Dolch Words list and sorted them by sounds. Since many of the words have more than one feature, there are a lot of ways they can be sorted.
For example, you could sort the word “wish” under short i or under digraph sh.
Dialect is another thing to consider.
I sorted the word “been” under short i because it sounds exactly like “bin” here in the Pacific Northwest. Based on your region, your pronunciation could be different. Some people pronounce it like the name Ben or the food bean.
Why did I sort the word “said” under short e? Because the sounds are /s/ /e/ /d/. In the word said, the ai spells the /e/. So I explicitly teach that to my children and students.
So take these sight words sorted by sounds as a suggestion and modify them to fit your needs.
Free Printable Sight Words by Phonics Skills List
To make life even easier for you, I compiled these sight words by phonics skills into one printable list.
It is a gift for email subscribers, so you’ll be signed up for my newsletter for tips, freebies, and sales. You can unsubscribe at any time, but I think you’ll love it.
Now, please be kind. This is for your personal use only. Do not share it widely or reproduce it for commercial use in any way.
Feel free to share about it and tag me on social media. Or you can send people to this blog post to get their own copy.
Sight Words sorted by Short Vowels Sounds
Usually, children learn to read simple CVC words like cat and dog in kindergarten. So it makes a lot of sense to teach words like has, yes, and but alongside those CVC words
Short a sight words
Short e sight words
Short i sight words
Short o sight words
Short u sight words
Sight Words Sorted by Consonant Digraphs
Sight Words Sorted by Long Vowel
There are sight words spelled first with the vowel-consonant-e pattern and those spelled with vowel teams like “ee” and “ea.”
Sight words with vowel-consonant-e
These are the sight words spelled with the vowel-consonant-e pattern”
Long A sight words
Most of these sight words are spelled with the “ay” spelling pattern. You can connect the word “eight” to “weigh” and “neigh” for your child. It is less common but a regular long a spelling pattern.
Long E sight words
Long I sight words
This will likely be the first time you explain to your child that the letter y can spell Long I are the end of a word. It will likely be the first time you explain the “igh” pattern to your child.
Long O sight words
Your child will need to learn that a contraction like don’t has an apostrophe that takes the place of the missing letters. I call it a hungry apostrophe because it eats some letters.
These long o words are spelled with ow like in tow.
R Controlled Sight Words
Bossy R Words, or r-controlled vowels, occur when the letter r follows a vowel. Common examples are card, bird, corn, and hurt.
Sight words with /ar/ like car
Sight words with /ir/ like her, bird, or hurt
These words, with the except of work, follow typical sound-spelling patterns.
Sight words with /or/ like horn
The words warm and four will need special attention as you teach your child or student to read and spell them.
Diphthongs Sight Words
Diphthongs are different that vowel teams. In diphthongs, the mouth moves and changes positions as you
Words with /ow/ like cow and ouch
Words with /oo/ like book
Good is the only one of these words with a typical sound-spelling for the vowel sound. However, the consonants are typical your child only needs to focus on learning the unusual vowels.
Words with /oo/ like food
Words with /aw/ like claw
Double L Words
You can group together the words that end with double l.
Schwa or /uh/ sound
These are one-syllable words that have the lazy schwa sound /uh/.
These are two-syllable words word that spell the /uh/ sound in the first syllable with a letter a. Please note that the words “about” and “around” are also included above with the diphthong /ou/.
Multi-syllable sight words
These words can bridge your child into learning about the six syllable types.
Words with y spelling long e
Sight Words with Double Consonants
When there is a word with double consonants in the middle, divide between the consonant.
Other Multisyllable Sight Words
These words all have regular sound-spelling rules
Truly Irregular Sight Words
From this whole list of 220 sight words, there are only five words that I believe are truly irregular and would be need to be memorized.
How to Teach Sight Words by Sound for Teachers
If you aren’t following @DroppinKnowledgeWithHeidi on Instagram, please do yourself a favor and follow her.
If I were still in the classroom, I would grab her slides for how to map the sight words in a hot second. I earn no commission for promoting her product – I just think it’s really good.
Sight Word Worksheets
There are sight word worksheets in the Printable Parents’ Shop. Some are sorted by frequency and some are sorted by sounds.
Dot the Sight Words
Dot the Sight Words is sorted into 11 lists based on frequency. Your learner can use color code to differentiate the known patterns and the tricky patterns.
Sight Word Read and Spell Worksheets
The Sight Word Read & Spell bundle is organized by frequency. To use these worksheets by sound, simply print out the pages for each word instead of printing them in order.
Sight Words by Sounds Worksheets
You can purchase the growing bundle of sight word worksheets sorted by sounds. This will be completed by mid-August. You buy now at the lowest price and then get all the updates sent to your email for free!
This growing bundle is also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Recapping Sight Words Sorted by Sounds
Here’s what busy parents need to know about sight words sorted by sounds:
- Sight words is another term for high-frequency words, or words that occur most often in English
- Traditional sight word lists like Dolch and Fry have the words sorted by most to least frequent.
- This can be hard for beginning and struggling readers because they are learning words like “and,” “you,” and “the” at the same time.
- A better way to learn is to organize your child’s sight words by sounds, or sort them by phonics skills.
- I did all the of work for you- you can grab a free download of the the Dolch sight words sorted by sounds.
- This way your child will learn the words as they connect them to common phonics skills.