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Fry Frequency Word List

Contributed by Leanne Guenther

Fry Frequency words are an updated version of the Dolch word list increasing the list from 220 words (Dolch) to 1000 words (Fry).  Fry covers about 90% of all words used in school books, library books, newspapers, and magazines.  The Fry word list is made up of "service words" (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs).

Most Fry words cannot be learned through the use of pictures.   Many of these words cannot be sounded out because they do not follow decoding rules and, therefore, must be learned as sight words.  Even for those that can be sounded out, learning them as sight words increases the speed, ease and often enjoyment of reading.


Dolch words are intended for children preschool through grade 3.  Fry words are intended for grades 1 through 6.

As a mom, I actually like to teach the Dolch words in preschool and kindergarten and then transition to the Fry words from grade 1 to 6.  There's a bit of overlap, but I didn't find this to be a problem.

I had access to my kids at an early age (something their elementary school teachers didn't have) -- by elementary school, I didn't have as much time with them.  For my girls anyways, they seemed to catch onto things and be excited to learn in preschool/kindergarten.  By grade 3 or so, flash cards with boring old mom was a lot less exciting than going biking with their friends!

Skipping ahead:

There's nothing "wrong" with skipping ahead -- children learn at different rates and get different levels of enjoyment (motivation) from educational activities.  If your child loves language arts, then he or she may cheerfully breeze through these word lists.

However, I'd just like to add a brief word of caution here -- please resist the temptation to "go fast" just to be able to say you did.  By following the recommended pace, it's more likely that the children will be able to:

I encourage you to consider whether the child can accomplish all those tasks before introducing the next list of words.