Learning High Frequency Words

Successful readers and writers need a sound knowledge of high frequency words.  

One problem some struggling readers have is that they often pause at high frequency words during reading, stopping the flow of the text. This affects their phrasing and fluency, and ultimately meaning from the text is lost if they are regularly stopping to solve words. Learning how to spell some high frequency words also proves tricky for these students. In order to help these students along, Kathleen Morris and I have set up a computer program for them to work through. Some of the websites my students use each week are Popcorn Words, Sight Words with Sampsonand Spelling City.


Popcorn words

Sight words with sampson

Spelling City


The idea is that the students use these engaging websites to focus on the words and hopefully retain them more readily. The students have a checklist to tick off when they have achieved the different lists of words on the websites.


Recent testing has been very positive and all of my lower students have improved their fluency and they are reading the high frequency words more automatically in texts. My “struggling spellers” have made solid progress in writing the words since last term. Of course, it is an ongoing process and continual support and monitoring for these students is needed.


We have a “Phonemic Awareness” teacher who works with small groups of like-needs students to improve their reading and spelling skills for half an hour each day. These students receive homework to do each week, so they are getting lots of hands-on, fun practice.


As well as using the websites, my students practise writing their words each week during reading groups. I also have flash cards to improve “automatic recall”, word games and Integration Aides work with these students whenever possible. My students have individual spelling lists to work on at home and these are checked weekly. Using play doh and magnetic letters to make words, and writing on the interactive whiteboard are other methods we use to help the students retain high frequency words. 

How do you help your students improve their high frequency words in reading and writing?


  6 comments for “Learning High Frequency Words

  1. brette lockyer
    May 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Kelly, thanks for the tips using computers and Word Work.

    My blog post from last year explains the hands-on tasks used in our Word Work during Daily Five. It’s a little different this year with the advent of B.Y.O.D. in my classroom and the appearance of student iPads and iPod Touches. I meet with my B.Y.O.D. kids (six of them) on a regular basis and get them to share the ways they have chosen of practising their words.
    One critical aspect for the success of Word Word in my classroom is ensuring that Word Work and the other Daily Five components intertwine. Our big question then is, no matter HOW you do Word Work, are you practising the words you need to help you write and read?
    At the moment one of my daily mini-lessons involves showing how a book’s glossary works, and then encouraging students to use these words during Word Work.
    Over the years I have also let Word Work evolve from a silent individual activity to a more collaborative one – if a student chooses to do it that way.
    Thanks again for the tips and the opportunity to comment.

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      May 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

      @ Brette,

      Thanks for the great comment, I will check out your blog, I am sure you have some great ideas!

      I agree, I think it is important for students to learn and practise spelling words that they regularly need. I have been writing reports this weekend and reading over my students’ journals. There are many words that they need to spell, which aren’t necessarily high frequency words, but they are important for particular students to know.

      It sounds like you have Word Work down to a fine art! 🙂


  2. May 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I have no advice to add but I’m about to go into a junior class (year 1/2) placement and hope to use some of the websites to use. So thanks for the post!

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      May 29, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      @ Teacher Trainee,

      I hope the websites are useful for you. Good luck for your placement! 🙂


  3. Laura Myers
    May 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Kelly,

    Always great to read about some other ideas for word work in my Prep classroom; you can never have too many ideas about how to teach and learn High Frequency words!
    Keep up the great work on the blog – it’s very practical, I’ve passed it onto my fellow Junior school team.


    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      May 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      @ Laura,

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and I appreciate you passing it onto others at your school! 🙂

      Hopefully your preps are going well!


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