The Story Behind Sight Words – Why are They So Important?


Here are the questions and answers that you have been dying to know, but have been either afraid to ask or too busy to research (or you once knew and just plain forgot). As a parent or teacher of young children, you should become well versed in the story behind sight words and dolch words. Don’t worry….this will be easy reading and quick!

1. Why do children need to learn SIGHT WORDS? It is suggested that children should begin learning sight words prior to first grade and should be able to read most of the Dolch words by the end of third grade. These are typical expectations in many schools, to ensure fluency in reading.

2. Should sight words be “sounded-out”? No. They should be quickly recognized and read in under 3 seconds. Most of these words cannot be sounded out.

3. What are dolch words and are they the same as SIGHT WORDS? Technically, yes. Dolch words, are the 220 most frequently used words in children’s books. 50-75% of words in children’s books are dolch words.

4. Are sight words or dolch words research-based? Yes. Edward W. Dolch, PhD, developed the Dolch Word lists based on research documented in his book “Problems in Reading,” published in 1948. There are 5 lists: Pre-Primer, Primer, First, Second and Third. The list for “Second” does not actually mean that those dolch words should be exclusively taught only in Second grade. It simply means that in Second grade texts (in the 1930’s/1940’s books), those words were documented more in Second grade texts.

5. Why do some curriculum’s or State Standards/Textbooks focus on certain sight words more than others. [(example 1: Kindergarten students in Alabama are expected to learn less sight words than those in Texas).(example 2: I am going on a whim here assuming that Houghton Mifflin vs. Pearson do not present the exact same set of sight words)]….I don’t know the answer to this, but this is a great question to ask your Reading Specialist or Curriculum Specialist! I presume that the arrangement of the timeline of when sight words are presented is based on the textbook, book or Emergent book order.

In the Green Bean Kindergarten Curriculum, I have arranged the Sight Words, based on the Dolch Words, combined with how the Emergent Readers are presented as well as the letters, Word Families and Rhyming Words. It is arranged smoothly for ease of learning.

FREE SIGHT word list below:

Click here for the Green Bean Kindergarten Curriculum SIGHT WORD list: Kindergarten Sight Word List for the Year GBK

Download the Dolch Word List here: dolch_alphabetized_by_grade_with_nouns


“Why Dolch Sight Words are Important”

“What are Dolch Words?”

Brown Bears and “The Bear Snores On”


After teaching about Antarctica, Penguins and Polar Bears during January-I moved on to teaching about brown bears. My students were devastated to say good-bye to the penguins, so my classroom is a mis-match of brown bears, polar bears and penguins! However, they are beginning to love these adorable brown bears too! I showed an adorable video of brown bears in Finland, via YouTube. There were bears climbing out of their den to join their mom on top. We were able to count the babies on top and on bottom. It was a great Math lesson introduction. Next, as a whole group, the children took turns to act out the video.They placed some of the bears ON the den and some of the bears IN the den. Next, in Math Stations, each child was able to make their very own bear den, complete with die-cut trees (I pre-stapled these). This is a simple brown lunch sack with 3/4 of it cut off. I crumpled it and cut out the archway, then taped it to a foam plate. The bears are counters from the classroom. When I send home the den, I will send bear die-cuts instead.



My Bear – “Look at this bear.” This sentence displays the sight words of the week that we focused on: LOOK, AT, THIS. Here, Dominic sounded out his own simple sentence next: “My bear.” I provided the shapes and each child made their own bear based on an example that I had already completed.





Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so we made a bear Valentine’s bag (for our Valentine cards)!



We viewed books and short YouTube video’s about brown bears. Then, using our sight words, each child was asked to verbalize what bears CAN do, LOOK like, and HAVE. During this activity, we also learned some new vocabulary words: fur and claws!



Math Time – This is the Bear OFF/ON Game. You simply drop a given amount of bear counters down. Then, count how many land ON the bear and how many land OFF the bear. If you had 5 to begin with and 3 landed ON and 2 landed OFF, then you could say: 3+2=5. This is a great way to introduce addition. Children love this game!



This is a Guided Reading Book, Emergent Reading Book and Sight Word Reader- all rolled into one!



Here is a cute little BEAR poem that I wrote. This is great for a Poetry station where children can read the large poem, then circle the sight words.



When we transitioned to the Forest and Brown Bears, this is one of the first activity comparisons we did- a Venn Diagram. We compared Animals and Objects in the Environment from the Forest to Antarctica. Suggestion: teach what the FOREST is before this lesson!



I never got to this, but something I wanted to do was to make classroom bear caves. How? Place blankets on top of tables and have children climb inside their pretend dens. In the story “The Bear Snores On,” all the animals ate popcorn and listened to party music-so why not do that too, right?



Read With ME! Guided Reading and Emergent Reader Books

If you are lucky, you will have your own set of Emergent Reader or Guided Reading books in your classroom. If not, your school or grade level or hallway may have a book room that has leveled books for you to check out and bring to your classroom. From experience, checking out these books, day to day and week to week can get cumbersome. However, guided reading and small group instruction is so so important in Kindergarten.

So, I specially made these books based on the sight words and rhyming words that we were learning or had already learned. These sweet little books truly help our young readers learn to read with confidence, as they feature sight words and rhyming words. Parents love them too, because they simply cannot be found in stores. These books are special to children because it comes from the teacher-and they can keep it!

Enjoy a FREE Emergent Reader book, called “The iPad” by clicking the link below:

Here is What is in this set of 12 Books:

Book 1- “Mmmm…Jam” (-am Words) Sight Words: is, and, like,

Book 2- “My Cat” (-at Words) Sight Words: like, my, she, has,

Book 3- “Stan Can” (-an Words) Sight Words: ran, can, and

Book 4- “The Pup” (-up Words) Sight Words: is, up, my, has, he,
not, like

Book 5- “Presley the Pig” (-ig Words) Sight Words: can, see,
play, this, is

Book 6- “Hot, Hot, Hot!” (-ot Words) Sight Words: my, said, this, is

Book 7- “The iPad” (-ad Words) Sight Words: the, too, had, an,
was, it, are

Book 8- “He Ate Hay” (-ay Words) Sight Words: he, ate, and, too,
they, all

Book 9- “My Pet is Wet” (-et Words) Sight Words: is, my, why,
this, no, he, not

Book 10- “The Yellow Sun” (-un Words) Sight Words: she, can, in,
the, run, he, they, see, play, too

Book 11- “Penguin Pip” (-ip Words) Sight Words: not, can, do,
here, go

Book 12- “Bill and Will” (-ill Words) Sight Words: and, they, went,
up, the, this, is, are, why, be

Get the Full set of 12 books HERE:

Suggestion: Place the book on the left side of a pocket folder, with a reading log on the right side (I found these FREE reading logs on TpT!). Each time you read a new “Emergent Reader” with your students or small group, then send it home in this folder, along with the note explaining what an emergent reader is.



Here are the “My Reading Folder” labels for FREE: Reading Folder labels



















The ABC’s of Teaching Letters


by: Andrea Howell Chouhan

The ABC’s of Teaching Letters

What is the first step in teaching a child to read? Letters and sounds instruction is the key! In simple terms, for a child to learn to read independently and construct meaning from text – he needs to be able to identify words automatically. He can do this after he decodes unknown words. In order to reach this point, children have to first learn the 44 speech sounds of letters and more than 100 spellings that are made.  Therefore, a child must first be able to identify letter names and then be able to produce letter sounds. Then, he will be ready to read! The next step is to implement a carefully planned and systematic presentation of explicit letter/sound teaching.

Which Letters Should Be Taught First?

The hardest question for researchers and professionals to answer is – “What order should the letters be taught?” Although there is not one universal answer to this question, there is great data to give professionals guidance in creating and/or implementing the necessary systematic order of instruction. Teachers everywhere successfully teach children to read. Children also learn differently. Quite honestly, there is no wrong order to teach letters. Many teachers follow the curriculum, which determines the letter order.

When deciding the order to teach the letters, please keep in mind what some research says.

What Does Research Say?

  • Some letters are harder to learn than others: U, Q, V
  • The following letters are most well-known by children, even if they have not been taught them: O, A, B
  • Children are most likely to learn the first letter of a their name more easily and quickly
  • Teach the letters in an order that allows a child to form many words with them (for example: C, M, A, T)
  • Begin with letters that make “simple sounds” that are easiest to stretch out and are easier to blend: M, S, F, R, N, L
  • Teach new sounds in small steps
  • Review previously taught letters and sounds
  • Introduce commonly encountered sounds before the infrequent sounds: For example, “A” occurs more commonly than “Q” or “V.”
  • Teach the letters that occur more frequently in most words. The most commonly occurring letters are: E, T, A, I, N, O, S, H, R, D, L, C
  • Introduce vowels early. A child must know the vowel sounds, in order to make and read words.
  • It is suggested to teach graphemes together, like C and H, C and K, T and H
  • Alphabetic order is not ideal because it does not address the needs listed above
  • Do not pair and teach together letters that are auditorily and/or visually similar: E, I and D, B
  • Introduce some continuous sounds early: M, S
  • One study suggests introducing lower case letters first, unless upper case letters are similar in shape: (Similar: S, s, U, u, W, w; Dissimilar: R, r, T, t, F, f) Note: I have always taught capital and lowercase at the same time: Ss, Rr, Tt, so I do not disagree with this study, I myself and just unfamiliar with its effectiveness
  • Do not teach similar looking letters together: b, d, p, q
  • Introducing letters in isolation may confuse some children about the purpose of letters in relation to words and reading
  • Some letters take longer to visually discriminate:  t, a, e, o, s, i

 Suggested Letter Order Instruction

 As a teacher, I always used the “letter order” sequence that was outlined by my school. I wondered what reasonings were behind teaching letters in a certain way. So, I set out and discovered that research proves that there are various effective methods for teaching letters in a systematic sequence. Below are the compilations of my finding. The last column is what I created based on the feedback that I received from other educators who used each of these systems.

Letter Order Suggestions


Public School in Houston

(No More Letter of the Week Method by P. Lusche)


Montessori Method (Montessori Matters by M. Carinato


Montessori Method

(How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by T. Seldin)


Right Track Reading

(by M. Gagen)

Combined Curriculums (Montessori & No More Letter of the Week)

Letters Overview

s, m, t, a, p, f, c

c, m, a, t

c, m, a, t

Letters Overview and 1st letter of childs name

Letters Overview and 1st letter of childs name

r, b, l, I, g, n, d

s, r, i, p

 s, f, r. n

Capital to Lowercase comparisons

Pp, Aa

h, j, k, w, o, u, v

b, f, o, g

n, l, e, b

Mm, Aa, Tt, Ss, Cc

Bb, Ll

y, z, x, q, e

h, j, u, l

i, h, d, g

Rr, Ii, Pp, Ff, Bb

Ss, Hh

d, w, e, n

o, k, p, j

Ll, Oo, Gg, Nn, Dd

Nn, Ww

k, q, v, x, y, z

 q, u, x

Hh, Jj, Uu, Qq, Ee

Ee, Cc

v, w, y, z

Vv, Ww, Yy, Kk, Xx, Zz

Qq, Uu

Rr, Yy

Gg, Zz

Dd, Oo

Ii, Jj

Ff, Xx

Vv, Kk

 Note: The first column shows how my school in Houston taught the letters. “No More Letter of the Week” was one resource, however, the letter order above was created by my school district.

The many resources below provide a plethora of suggestions for the sequence of teaching letters and sounds. So, glean what you will and happy teaching!


My Top 10 Most Favorite Children’s Books

We all have our favorite books. Here are mine! The reason that I love them…because my students and my own children love them. Reading and books somehow open the imagination and funny bone!

1. “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Felicia Bond is a well loved children’s book by many teachers. Why? It is a story that goes around and around and it shows what happens when you do something-anything! The little mouse is also reminded of his family in this story. This is a great story to read with your child as you enjoy some family time!









2. “Go Dog, Go” by PD Eastman. – This is one of the first books that my Pre-K son learned to read and loved to read at bedtime. It has many 3-letter words and lots of rhyme, which makes it fun to read!










3. Skippy Jon Jones by Judy Schachner is such a funny book. When, I read it, I change my voice into a Mexican accent. The kids laugh and end up reading along with me!








4. “Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister – This book teacher such simple and important concepts – sharing, social skills and making friends.











5. “Jake Starts School” by Michael Wright – This book shows a silly kid who insists that his parents stay at school with him all day. It helps children become more at ease with school as they watch the mom and dad on the playground and in the kiddie chairs!










6. “Go Away Big Green Monster” by Ed Emberly – This book “tricks” children into reading along. Its also a great book to read before nap or bedtime. I love how it is a simple story line that emphasizes color words and facial features, as well.












7. “Bad Kitty” by Nick Bruel is such a funny book about a really bad cat that constantly is getting into trouble!













8. “Elmer” by David McKee teaches about uniqueness and how everyone is special.












9. “Alice the Fairy” by David Shannon, shows a how little girls imagination can come to life!










10. “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” by Mo Willems – A cute little bird sneaks into the driver seat and has so much fun!









There you have it!



Using Colorful Books to Capture a Child’s Curiosity…..A Color of His Own by Leo Leoni

Colorful books capture children’s curiosity! Even adults are led to choose books based on thier cover. Literally-judge a book by its cover! It’s ok-go ahead and choose a book to read based on what you see. I teach my students that when they write and make illustrations, they should keep in mind that someone else will be reading their work. This encourages them to work harder and more carefully, instead of quickly. Did you know that most people’s strongest sense is thier sight? What we see leads us to investigate. Investigations lead to learning. Learning leads to creating and creative thinking leads to new ideas! Isn’t that amazing-a book has the power to open up our imagination and creative thinking! I love books for this reason.

Even fictional characters portray creative thinking. The chameleon in the story, “A Color of His Own” by Leo Leoni lets his curiosity lead him to colorful transformations. After reading this story to your students, have then create their own chameleon.

Download this color matching activity sheet at:

What is the Best Way for Teaching Reading?

Arthur Read

Arthur Read (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     Dolch words vs. Sight Words. Which method proves to be the best way for teaching reading? Are they even the same thing or are they different? As a Kindergarten teacher, who has taught sight words, I was curious about the answer to this question. Other Kindergarten teachers across the world teach dolch words. So, are we both up to part with the teaching of reading? Is one method better than the other?

     According to Edward William Dolch, there are 220 most commonly used words in the English language. This list was first published in 1948 in his book “Problems in Reading.” Dolch called these words “service words” meaning-words that must be quickly recognized to be able to read successfully. Words that must be recognized and read quickly are also called “sight words.” Many of the Dolch words are sight words (the answer to my original question)! In fact, any general text contains about 50-70 % of the 220 dolch words which are sight words. Therefore, sight words are vital to reading successfully.

     The other 30-50% of the words in most general text is phonics-based. Phonics based reading (the sounding out of words) is also vital to reading successfully. One could read with only sight words, or read by only sounding out words. However, if that were done, the person could not read successfully-or would be reading on a K-1st grade level. In order to read by phonics, a child must have phonemic awareness-the realization that letters make sounds. Then, the child must be able to know the name of each capital and lowercase letter, and the sounds that each makes. When letters are recognized within a word, such as “man,” the child should be able to think about the name of the letter and the sound it makes, and then sound out each sound slowly. By “reading” and practicing “sounding out” simple 2-3 letter words, a child will eventually sound out the letters more quickly and read more successfully. Therefore, phonics-based reading, sight word and dolch word reading are vital toward being a proficient reader.

The list of Dolch words can be found all over the internet via Google searches. The easiest to print list (found below) can also be found on Wikipedia. Below is the list, from Wikipedia, in alphabetical order. They are separated into categories by grade level and by noun/non-noun.

Dolch list: Non-nouns Pre-primer:

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


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

1st Grade:

after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, 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

2nd Grade:

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

3rd Grade:

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

Dolch list: Nouns

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, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, 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

References: Dolch, W. E. (1948). Problems in Reading. USA: Garrard Press.

Internet Source:

Published June 17, 2012 at my professional website:

Winter Animals and “The Mitten”

Children love to hear and act out “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. I love creating new things each year for my lessons and finding new ideas too! Below is a great puppet show based on one of my favorite stories, “The Mitten,” by Jan Brett. Check it out by clicking on this video!

This would also be fun to do at home with your own children. My plan is to show the above video to my students, so that they will be inspired and see that they can also help produce a video!

Here is a sweet little song about “The Mitten” that I found on YouTube. It is also a play that other Kindergarten students performed. I am amazed at how the internet can be so inspirational for new teaching methods. I can totally see my students participating in such a fun activity!

I also love the name plates that these first grade students are wearing. It is a great way to bring in text and visuals.




This is a Math Station Game called Off/ On Bears-you drop a given amount of bears and count how many land on and how many land off the mitten. This covers “decomposing” numbers and “ways to make__.” It is also a fun way to introduce addition.
















Gingerbread “No Cook” Play-dough fun!

My good friend Bethany (and a great teacher!) inspired me to make my own play-dough infused with the wonderful smell of gingerbread! My own children loved playing with it and using cookie cutters to make thier own pretend cookies. I made three batches of the recipe below (for less than $10!) and placed a little gingerbread man into a little plastic container. I made one container for each of my students. This will my Christmas present to them! Along with a cookie cutter and the play-dough, I will wrapping it in a little plastic bag and tie with curly ribbon. I love being able to make something for my own children and my classroom kids at the same time!

This is a great way to incorporate team work, recipe reading and following, and responsibility for cleaning up. Reading and following a recipe is a great way to teach sequencing and the skills of “first, next, last,” which is always a skill needed for any reading lesson. So, not only is making play-dough fun, it is also educational!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp. of each: cinnamon, allspice & ginger (this is a nice dark brown)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water

Mix with a wooden spoon until well mixed. When it is too hard to mix, take out of the bowl and knead on the counter. For an extra special touch, add multicolor glitter. It makes it sparkle nicely! This is a “no-cook” recipe!

Here are some great ideas of how to wrap up and “gift” the play-dough:


First, we made sure that we had all the ingredients.



This is why you “need” to knead the dough. It looks pretty gross during mixing.


Here it is! Isn’t it nice! And it smells so good!


Here are the kids using cookie cutters to make their own things.


These are the cute and cheap containers I found at Wal-Mart. Instead of rolling the dough into a ball, I cut out the shape of a gingerbread man.


Now they are stacked and ready for labels. Click below to print the label which contains the recipe and directions. You can also edit and change it in Microsoft Word and add in your own name.

Gingerbread play-dough labels