What are Dolch Words?
Reading is the most important skill a child will ever learn. It is impossible for a person to live a productive life without being able to read, i.e.; becoming literate. In most schools, children are expected to be able to read simple sentences and stories by the end of first grade. By third grade, they are expected to be able to read almost any kind of text. As well as being able to "sound out" (phonetically decode) regularly spelled words, children must also master reading basic, common sight words.
A list of English sight words, The Dolch Word List, was compiled by Edward William Dolch, PhD, in 1948. The list was originally published in his book "Problems in Reading". Dolch compiled the list based on words used in children's reading books in the 1930s and 40s. The list contains 220 "service words" that must be quickly recognized in order to achieve reading fluency.
The Dolch Word List is also called Sight Words or The Dolch 220. It includes the most frequently used words in the English language. Sight words make up 50 to 70 percent of any general text. Therefore, teaching The Dolch Word List is a crucial goal of education in grades kindergarten through 3.
Many of the 220 Dolch words cannot be "sounded out" and have to be learned by "sight," that is memorized. The list is divided into grade levels. It includes pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs. The basic list excludes nouns, which make up a separate 95 word list.
Because fluency in reading the Dolch 220 and the 95 nouns is essential to literacy, a variety of techniques are used to teach them, including: reading Dolch literature books, using flash cards, playing games, and writing activities. Repetition and practice are very important in making recognition of sight words automatic. Once this core of basic sight words has been memorized, children read more fluently, with greater comprehension.
You can see the Dolch word lists here.