Sounding Out the Dolch List with Logic of English: Introduction

We have a brand new tool for parents and teachers who need to teach their students the high-frequency words in the Dolch List but want to use the logical, phonics-based approach used in Logic of English® curriculum. If you want to teach your children why each word is spelled the way it is, join us this summer on the LOE blog for...

Sounding Out the Dolch List with Logic of English!

A series of instant lessons by Denise Eide and Cindy Kringelis

These lessons will eventually be available for purchase as a set, but through October 2015 they will also be available as a free resource on the LOE blog.
[Winter 2015 update: Sounding Out the Sight Words is now available!]

Logic of English author Denise Eide and parent Cindy Kringelis, who wanted to help her daughter master the sight words required by her school, created this series of "instant lessons" to help educators and parents teach students the phonics tools they need to understand, sound out, and read the words in the Dolch list and Dolch 95 with concepts taught in Logic of English curriculum.

Instead of teaching one new sight word each day by rote, these lessons enable you to teach one bite-size phonics concept each day in a two- to ten-minute lesson. The child practices the new concept by reading it in the context of Dolch words and other high-frequency words. In sixty-six lessons, instead of learning sixty-six Dolch words, students gain the tools to read all 315 as well as thousands of other words!

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Sounding out the Dolch list... Is that even possible?

While native English speakers are often taught that the words on the Dolch list must be memorized by sight because they cannot be sounded out, this is in fact not true. In Logic of English curriculum, students learn phonics concepts that accurately describe 98% of the words in English. Of the 220 Dolch Words and the 95 Dolch Nouns, only seventeen (5%) have a sound or phonogram that does not follow these rules completely.

Ten of these seventeen words have spellings that are shaped by meaning and understandable once the root is explained, or have undergone shifts in pronunciation that students can comprehend with instruction. The remaining seven words (all of which are taught in this series) still have recognizeable connections between their spelling and pronunciation that help students sound out the word once they have tackled the phonogram that is doing something unusual.

So—yes! The Dolch words can indeed be sounded out, more easily and efficiently than they can be memorized by rote. Let us show you how!

Don't students have to memorize Dolch words by sight to be able to read?

Reading research indicates that students need to be able to read high-frequency words—the small number of common words that make up the majority of English texts—quickly and automatically to become fluent readers. However, extensive evidence-based brain and reading research about how students get to this point demonstrates that strong readers are relying on their knowledge of sounds as they do this. Emerging readers get to this point of instantaneous recognition by practicing the individual sound-symbol relationships to the point of automaticity, and by applying this knowledge in the repeated reading of high-frequency words. For example, a recent study at Stanford University demonstrated that beginning readers who focus on individual sounds rather than whole words stimulate more activity in the areas of the brain best wired for reading.

Reading fluency is not gained by skipping the understanding of the sounds and memorizing whole words as a visual unit, but by developing deep mastery of how letters represent sounds. Visit our Research page to learn more.

Why the Dolch List?

The Dolch list is one of a number of efforts to categorize common words children need to be able to read. Created by Edward Dolch in the 1930s, the Dolch list and Dolch nouns list were based on the words occurring most commonly in children's literature. While the Logic of English curriculum teaches high-frequency words within the context of learning the phonograms and spelling rules and includes activities to develop fluency reading these words, this series is designed for teachers and parents who are required to teach the Dolch words and want to provide the tools needed to master these words without teaching them by rote. At the same time, students will acquire the tools needed to read tens of thousands of additional words.

Using the Lessons

Each lesson introduces one new phonics concept and practices the concept with Dolch words and additional words.

Each lesson has a student side, with the new phonogram or rule listed at the top plus a list of words, and a teacher side. On the teacher side, simple instructions (part 1 in the example) guide you through teaching the concept. On the student side, students then practice the concept by reading the new Dolch word(s) it unlocks. Additional words not on the Dolch list are also provided for further practice.

On the student side, words that can be read using only this lesson's concept and the basic sounds of A-Z are listed in the green columns on the left. These words, including Dolch words in the first column and other common words in the second, can be sounded out successfully if you have taught only this one lesson, allowing you to skip around amongst the lessons if you prefer.

A second blue section provides additional words that can be read using this concept plus concepts taught previously in the series. These words, divided into a Dolch words and other words columns, can be sounded out successfully if you have taught this lesson and the ones leading up to it.

Keep in mind that while all the words on the page can be sounded with these phonics tools, the words vary in length and complexity. It is fine to have a child read only some of the words, especially a younger child. The goal is to practice sounding out in words and applying the new concept, not to memorize each word on the page.

In addition to the instructions for the lesson (1), the teacher side provides several extra resources: instructions for optional review (2), a chart of Dolch words that use this tool in addition to other phonics concepts taught elsewhere in the series (3), and a Notes with section teacher tips and further explanation (4).

What prior knowledge is assumed?

Before starting the lessons, students need to know the most common sound for each of letters A-Z. They also need to have sufficient phonemic awareness skills to segment words into sounds and blend sounds together to make words. (Watch our short Phonemic Awareness video to learn more and discover ways to practice this important skill!)

A complete list of the 58 Dolch words that use only the most common sounds of A-Z, and which can therefore be read without further instruction, is included with Lesson 1 of this series. The sixty-six lessons teach the remaining concepts students need to read the rest of the Dolch list.

What other tools do I need?

For the most effective use of these lessons, we recommend purchasing the Logic of English Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, Spelling Rule Flash Cards, and Phonogram and Spelling Game Book to provide sufficient resources for teaching and practicing the material. You can also learn the phonograms and their sounds, and make your own flash cards if you prefer, using our online Phonogram Chart.

Is this a substitute for Logic of English curriculum?

No. This series does not teach all the phonograms and spelling rules! It is more like an appetizer - not a full meal, and it may leave you eager for more, but it's much better than nothing. In contrast, Logic of English curriculum teaches all 74 basic phonograms and 31 spelling rules needed to read and spell 98% of the words in English and includes extensive practice, multi-sensory activities, handwriting, vocabulary development, grammar, and tools for developing greater mastery in spelling. This series introduces the concepts needed to decode words in the Dolch list, which simultaneously unlock tens of thousands of additional words, but you will still be missing the concepts needed to decode tens of thousands more.

It takes extensive practice and step-by-step instruction to become fluent readers and spellers, and that is beyond the scope of these lessons. We have designed our curriculum with the goal of providing the most fun, engaging, linguistically accurate, complete reading and spelling instruction we can. However, we have created this series as well in order to provide an accurate, phonics-based foundation for those who do not have the option of using Logic of English curriculum but want to start their children on the right foot in reading.

Any other tips for success?


  1. Let students sound out words. If they struggle with a sound, remind them of the sound the phonogram makes rather than encouraging them to guess the word. Remember that fluency develops through mastering the sounds, and that this will come naturally with time.
  2. If students have initial trouble recognizing multi-letter phonograms within words, underline the phonogram.
  3. Practice the phonograms students are learning frequently—daily if possible. Use the Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, play games from the Game Book... it does not need to take long, but students will master them the most quickly with frequent practice.
  4. If possible, go through the lessons in order and continue to practice previous concepts and reading previous words. If you want to teach a word from the "Future Words" list, simply use the chart to see what additional concepts the students will need and teach these lessons.
  5. You may find it helpful to print out lists of the words students are reading and cut them into individual cards. This way you can vary the order when practicing them and use them in reading fluency games from the Game Book.

Ready to get started?

See the first lesson
See the second lesson
See the third lesson
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