100 Word Challenge & a Sticker Chart

Luke, who turned 4 in February, is beginning to learn to read.  He has ALWAYS loved books and will spend hours a day listening to books being read and “reading” independently.  While he really wants to KNOW how to read, he isn’t exactly wild about the LEARNING how part.  

We’ve been reading phonics-based beginning readers and working with words in general, but I also wanted him to start learning sight words.  These are words that are so common that a child needs to learn to recognize them by sight instead of having to “sound them out.”  Additionally, words that don’t fit the normal phonics patterns are on the list because they are words that just have to be memorized.

Knowing Luke is very motivated by sticker charts, I came up with the idea that he could earn a sticker for each new sight word he learns.  I decided to use the Fry Instant word lists, which are broken down into “100 word” lists.  The first list roughly corresponds with kindergarten, the second list with 1st grade, the third list with 2nd, and so on.  (Although I read on another site the first list corresponds with 1st grade, and so on.  Regardless, start with list one and go from there!)

I was going to look up the list online and create my own materials to use with Luke, but I came across a site that had already done the work for me and it was free!  No need to reinvent the wheel, right?  So, without further ado, here is a link to the free printable Fry Word List materials.  Start with the first 100 words and proceed from there!

Here’s what we’ve been doing:

First I printed the FREE: Fry’s First 100 Word List and FREE Flashcards.  Or I attempted to at least.  My plan was to laminate the included flashcards, add magnets, and stick them on our magnetic whiteboard.  However, our printer had the notion to run out of ink halfway through printing and I haven’t ordered a new cartridge yet.  (Which reminds me….)

So, plan B was developed.  I found this box of sight words I had purchased in my teaching days.  

It had a lot of the first 100 words in it, so I pulled out all the ones on the “First 100” list and put them on our magnetic whiteboard.  

I’m sure I’ll eventually get the free flashcards printed and made into magnets so we can have all 100 words matching and looking uniform (I’m a perfectionist when it comes to these things…), but for now, this will give Luke more than enough words to practice and learn.

When I told Luke he would be learning 100 words (and yes, he has a very good concept of what 100 means), he was very reluctant.  Then I mentioned the sticker part, and while he wasn’t exuberant or anything, he did warm up to the idea.  

After I put up all the sight word magnets on the whiteboard, I would catch him going over to look at them now and then.  Eventually I walked over when I caught him there one time and asked him if he saw any words he knew.  He immediately handed me “at” and said, “At!”  (Obviously he had been really looking at and thinking about the words.  Yay!)  I responded, “Great!” and asked if he knew any others.  We had a very informal session where I would pull off some of the easier words, like “go”, “no,” “in”, “an”, and “it” and ask him if he knew what they said.  If he didn’t, I’d get him to tell me the beginning sound of the word and then I’d tell him what the word was.  We pulled off some of the words he was interested in or that I thought were some of the easier ones, and we moved them to a different area so we could focus on a smaller set of words.

Our refrigerator is not magnetic — that’s blasphemy in a house with kids! — so we have to be creative.  We found a spot right above our fireplace that is magnetic, and when the words are put there, they are right at Luke’s eye level, so it worked out well.  

It’s also perfect because we just turned the pilot light in the fireplace off for the season, so no chance for burns!  Hope he learns all his words before winter rolls back around!!

Luke practices reading the words above the fireplace.  Then I’ll switch the order around and have him do it once or twice more.  

When I notice he has repeatedly gotten a word right quickly at least 3 different times, then he gets a sticker for his chart.  I require he get it right on three separate occasions, and without sounding it out; it has to be instant recognition.

We are using the assessment page of the printout as the sticker chart.  It hangs on the whiteboard along with the majority of the 100 words.

When Luke identifies a word correctly quickly and without help at least 3 different times, then I put a check on the line beside the word and he gets to add a sticker after it.  We are using the smallest stickers we have and they are still a little big for the chart, but I think it’ll work out fine.  It’s more about the feeling of accomplishment than the look of the chart anyway.

So far, so good!  Luke has voluntarily offered to practice his words several times and has earned a few checks.  He’ll earn some more pretty quickly when I get the flashcards printed because my box of words is missing a lot of the easy ones like “a”, “the”, and “I” that I know he already knows.

If your child is easily overwhelmed, definitely don’t present the 100 words at once.  While Luke is probably somewhat overwhelmed, I also know from experience he is really into the number 100 from our recent math activities, AND the boy secretly loves a good challenge.  He may not know that himself, but I see that little sparkle in his eye when he says, “I have to learn 100 words?!?!?”  I can almost hear his little brain thinking, “100 is a lot and that’s going to take a lot of work, but man, wouldn’t that be cool to say I know 100 words!?!?!”

Don’t be afraid to present your child with only 1-5 words to start.  If your child is up for a big challenge though, give them the 100 and let them choose their own smaller groups of words to work with because anytime your child takes interest in their own learning, they’re going to do better and learn more!

Anyone else up for the 100 word challenge?  
Comment below if you and your child will be joining us to learn the “First 100.”

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • gsv says:

    Check this out. We loved it. Here’s the link to the most recent one we did cause it was the quickest for me to find…http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Take-Home-Sight-Word-Book-2
    Book 1 was actually free.

  • K Schuk says:

    I plan to start working on sight words with my 3 year old this summer, so thanks for the post! She is noticing the word “no” everywhere and gets SO excited! You don’t notice how many street signs include the word “no” until you have a 3 year old in the back seat pointing each and every one of them out to you.

  • Cassie Upton says:

    are you reading I’ll teach my Dog 100 words by Dr Seuss, Isaac loves that one!

  • […] seeing Luke’s sight word sticker chart, Lilah, who is 2-1/2 years old, was feeling a little left out.  So, I made her a few sticker […]

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