Dolch Sight Words for Word Walls

Dolch List for Kindergarten to Third Grade

Flash cards to build fluency. Susan Chiang/Getty Images

Dolch Word Lists

The Dolch Word Lists were developed by Edward W. Dolch.  He researched English text he found published in the United States and found those words that show up the most in text.  Some of those words are decodable, because the follow general phonemic and spelling rules for English.  Many, however (like many!) are not decodable but instead are irregular, not following the rules of English (or we would say main-y, since the first syllable is open.)   Over 50 - 75% of the most commonly used words are found in the Dolch List below.

The Dolch Lists are among the most highly respected in field of reading instruction, and are critical for creating meaning in text, those common verbs, articles and conjunctions that make words into language. 

The Dolch lists are also valuable for word walls.  Word walls provide a dictionary for emerging writers as well as readers, as they look to find the words they need to write.   Dolch created a spiraling list of sight words that builds from grades to grades.  You can add words from the lists to your word wall as you expand your students skills through appropriate pre-primer or primer decodable books, which will have many of the sight words.  Then, you can encourage your students to use the word wall words in writing samples.  Still, the goal should be to write to communicate, not write to meet some teacher's requirements.  Students with reading and language difficulties often dislike writing tasks--make them fun and make them about communicating their meaning and they will flex their writing muscles!

How to use the Dolch Words:

  • Play games with them, cut the cards out and use them as flash cards.
  • Use oral reading activities with the cards. Hold up the word, and use a sentence with a blank prompting the child to state the word. For instance: "I liked that movie so much that I watched it _________(again).
  • Use and oral cloze activity, placing three cards, one that fills the cloze. You can have the child point to the correct word.  This is especially good for children with reading skills but apraxia. i.e. John went to the park to (swim, and, the.)
  • Shuffle the Dolch cards, turn them over one at a time and use them in a sentence.
  • Have students go back and highlight (and correct, when necessary) the word wall words in their journal entries or free writing. 

Daily routine use of the words will build reading confidence. There are five lists: Pre-Primer, Primer, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade. For students with learning disabilities, these words should be learned developmentally beginning with the first list.

All cards are in PDF format.

See also the word cards for all 44 spelling sounds which are great for your spelling program and word walls.