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High Frequency Words

What are they?

High frequency words are the words that appear frequently in printed material. These words might also be called sight words. Often, these words do not follow phonics rules.

Why are they important?

High frequency words make up the majority of the words a child will read. If he can recognize these words easily, he will be able to focus less on decoding and more on comprehension. 

What can we do at home?

Provide a little bit of practice every day. Five minutes for five days in a row is far more effective than 25 minutes on just one day. Flashcards are probably the easiest way to practice, but here are some more ideas to keep practice time interesting.

Play Bang - Using index cards, write one high frequency word on each card and write "Bang" on two cards. Put the cards in a bag. Players take turns pulling out a card out of the bag. If the player can read the card, he can keep it. If not, he puts the card back in the bag. If a player pulls out a bang card, all of his cards go back in the bag.

Play Tic-Tac-Toe - Create a tic-tac-toe board and write one high frequency word in each square. Players play as usual, except each player must read the word in the square before he can write down an x or an o.

Play Concentration - Make two sets of high frequency cards. Mix them up and turn them face down on the table. Players take turns making matches. In order to keep the match, the player must read the words.

Play Go Fish - Make two sets of high frequency cards. Shuffle them, and deal five cards to each player. Place the rest face down on the middle of the table. Players must read the word when asking for a match. If no one else has the match, the player chooses a card from the pile on the middle of the table. Players keep the matches, and the one with the most matches at the end of the game wins.

On the Go Words - Place the high frequency words in a sheet protector, and attach them to the back of a front row car seat so your child can easily see the words from his seat. As you are driving, he can read the words to you. If he does not know the word, he can spell it out, and you can pronounce it.

Big Words - Many children benefit from using large motions when learning high frequency words. Have your child write words on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, trace words in the air, make words out of Play-Doh, or spray a little shaving cream on a table or counter and trace the words in shaving cream. 

PS - There are other ideas in the Letter Recognition section that would also work for High-Frequency Word practice.