Ann Cazenave

"One pupil, who made over two years’ progress in six months, gained a lot of self belief as a result of using Everyone Can Read."

Ann Cazenave, Deputy Head Teacher, Woodfield School, Coventry

400 Words

Introduction to 400 Words

The 400 Words sight vocabulary programme concentrates on teaching by sight many of those words which do not lend themselves easily to phonic analysis. It also greatly improves pupils’ confidence by teaching rapid recognition of the most common words pupils are likely to meet in the earlier stages of learning to read. The 400 Words programme complements the structured phonic work in Phonics Phases 1 and 2.

Pupils can progress at their own pace. Practice is specifically targeted at weak areas.

Materials provided for the 400 Words sight vocabulary programme consist of a Teacher’s Manual, a photocopiable Pupil Workbook containing assessment sheets, and a CD for making a range of cards for reinforcement activities.


The programme has two aims:

  • To teach pupils to recognise quickly, by sight, the 400 most common words found in children’s literature.
  • To teach pupils to spell those 400 words, and extensions of those words, thus improving writing, as well as reading.


There are four main activities within the programme:

Word/Sentence Strips – Each of the 400 words to be studied – together with an accompanying sentence which uses the word in context – is represented in a strip. The word “home” for example, is represented on a word/sentence strip as follows:

home I will go home.

The Word/Sentence Strips activity involves 12 word/sentence strips at any one time, with words that are successfully read being discarded, to be replaced by strips containing new words.

Link Words – This activity makes use of a Link Word List. This list contains the 400 words being studied with other words which are associated with, or linked to, each of the 400 words written alongside. The word “like” for example, appears in the Link Word List as follows:

like likes, liked, liking, likely, likeness, unlike

By highlighting root word links, and by emphasising the generally regular structure of prefixes and suffixes, the teacher can extend the learning of the spelling of the 400 words to a range of words which are associated with them.

Sentences – The Sentences activity improves writing skills by providing practice in spelling, punctuation and sentence construction. Whole sentences have been carefully devised to include only those words previously studied so success is built in.

Reinforcement Activities – Reinforcement activities include card games, flash cards, link words and sentences to assist both reading and spelling.

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