word wall

Sight Words

Sight words are common words that schools expect kids to recognize instantly. They make up 80% of English language. Words like theit, and and appear so often that beginning readers reach the point where they no longer need to try to sound out these words. They recognize them by sight.

Building up a large base of sight words helps kids become faster, more fluent readers. When kids master a sight word, they no longer have to pause to blend its letter-sounds together. And they don’t have to think about spelling rules. 

Some schools call sight words high-frequency words. Other terms for sight words include star words, core words, and popcorn words. Why popcorn? Because these words “pop up” so frequently in reading and writing. 

Learn more about reading fluency and why it’s important. 

At A Glance

  • Sight words are common words that kids recognize instantly without sounding them out.
  • Recognizing words by sight helps kids become faster, more fluent readers.
  • Many sight words are tricky to read and spell — they aren’t spelled the way they sound.

How to Help at Home

Having trouble with reading and spelling doesn’t mean kids aren’t smart. Some kids need extra support to make progress, especially with sight words. 

Families can help by creating a space to display the words kids have mastered. They can also make picture cards with illustrations on one side and sight words on the other. 

Explore other ways families can help with sight words:

Here are some more links to the sight word lists and videos helping teach sight words for extra practice at home.

Sight Word Lists

Jack Hartmann Sight Word Videos