Phonics – High Frequency Words – Learning to Read

High Frequency Words – Sight Words

High Frequency Words (HFW) – Sight Words are different to ‘tricky/ common exception’ words however, some tricky words are also HFW. They are words that come up frequently when reading and therefore it’s beneficial to learn them by sight, rather than sounding out and blending, which is a strategy that takes longer.

Reading more words by sight help with the fluency of reading and in turn the understanding of what is being read. All of these skills come together to develop confident readers who read for pleasure.

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Fiddlesticks Education have a Phonics Play Pack (BUSYBUSYLEARNING will give you a discount – click on the pink link to head to the Etsy store) which also includes a phonics toolbox where you get these lovely HFW cards (above). There’s also a guide with how to use the resources in the pack.

High Frequency Words Ideas


Currently, we’re using the high frequency words cards daily. We have no more than six at a time (there’s a list in the phonics toolbox of the order of learning for the first 300 HFW). Show each card and if they say the word then they can clip off a corner (check out bottom right corner on the word ‘I’ in the image below) you can always just use scissors to cut a triangle off of one corner.


Whether using a punch or scissors both of these activities develop fine motor strength and co-ordination. Each day, if they say the word, clip off another corner. When all four corners are off they can then add a sticker or a tick to the word on the leaves sheet.

High Frequency Words Games


If they need to sound out the word or need you to tell them, that’s fine, but it doesn’t count as being able to read by sight yet. You could play games with the words. One of our favourites is Splat. You put the cards on the floor and say one of the words. They then need to ‘splat’ the word you’ve said.

Sherington Primary have a great document with lots of game ideas to play with your child to help them learn high frequency words. You can find it here.

ICT Games have an interactive game where you can choose which high frequency word set you are working on. You can find it here; it’s dinosaur themed too!

Further Phonics

For more phonics explanations, ideas and games click on the link here to head to our phonics homepage.

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