What are they?
High frequency words are the words that appear most often in printed material. These words might also be called sight words.
Why are they important?
High frequency words make up the majority of the words a child will encounter in print. If the child has learned to recognize these words quickly and automatically, he or she will have far less to decode and will be able to focus more on reading comprehension.
What can we do at home?
It is very important to provide a little bit of practice every day. Five minutes for five days in a row will be 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 your practice interesting.
Play Bang - Using index cards, write one high frequency word on each card and write "Bang" on two or three cards. Put all words in a bag. Players take turns pulling out a word out of the bag. If the player can read the card, he/she can keep it. If not, he/she puts the card back in the bag. If a player pulls out a bang card all of the cards have to 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/she can write down an x or an o.
Play Checkers - Laminate an old checkerboard, and using a dry-erase marker, write the high frequency words on the board. Players play as usual, except before the checker is moved, the player must read the word. If he/she can read the word, he/she can move. If not, he/she stays in the current square.
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 5 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 tries to find a match 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, using some pins, paperclips, or metal rings, attach the words to the back of the car seat so that your child can easily see them from his/her seat. As you are driving, he/she can read the words to you. If he/she does not know the word, he/she can spell it out, and you can pronounce it.
Big Words - Many children enjoy and benefit from using large motions when learning high frequency words. Have your child write the words on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, trace the words in the air, make the words out of Play-Doh, or spray a thin layer of shaving cream on a table or counter and trace the words in shaving cream.