Learning to Read High Frequency Words


High frequency words, also referred to as sight or key words are simply common words found in text. Interestingly, just 16 words (a, and, he, I, in, is, it, my, of, that, the, then, to, was, went, with) make up a quarter of all the words in a typical text and a total of 100 words (including the 16 most common) represent half the words in a text. Teaching your child these "high frequency words" is one way to give them a head start in learning to read.

Learning these pretty meaningless words is not a simple task particularly for tricky words that don’t follow a regular phonetic code. So, as well as pointing out the words in books, newspapers and on posters, you can help your child to learn the words using games. It is important to keep all learning FUN in these early stages.

Here are some simple ideas:

·       Make and decorate a special word tin to store high frequency word cards in and as with learning letter sounds always begin games by revisiting words they know so that your child doesn't forget them and then gradually add new ones.

·       Make the words using magnetic letters and keep them on the fridge to refer too.

·       Make letters out of dough and then order them to make the words.

Try the games below using two printed copies of the words on two different colours of paper and cut out the word cards. Limit the number of word cards and use no more than 6 words at any one time.

·       A simple matching activity - Spread out face up six cards of one colour and read each word out as you put it down. The child then matches cards in the other colour and places them next to or over the top.

·       The ever popular ‘Slap Hands’ game – place some words face up on the table and take turns to read a word and the first person to slap their hand onto the card wins the word.

·       Play ‘Snap’ using two sets of matching cards on different coloured background. This game is best used to practise words your child knows fairly well, rather than new ones, as it is fast paced.

·       Play ‘Pelmanism’ by spreading out your two sets of matching cards, face down. Take turns to pick up two cards, one of each colour. Read each word as you or your child turns it over. Check whether the words match - if they do, keep them and have another go. If they don't, put them back face down and let the other player have a turn. Soon, your child will begin to read the words independently.