word families ideas and activities for teaching
A post about the importance of word families and how to teach reading with word families. Daily suggestions, ideas, and activities for teachers provided.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading
Today I am sharing about one part of my word study program, how to teach reading with word families. I will be sharing how I run my schedule during the week and provide you with a day to day plan of action. I have seen a lot of success with this program. My students are thoroughly engaged, actively learning, and building their reading and spelling skills.

Teaching Word Families

Why Teach Word Families?

Learning to read the English language is a difficult task. The English language follows so many different patterns and rules that it is often confusing for our younger students learning to read.
Word families, also called phonograms or “chunks,” provide us with groups of words that have a   predictable pattern or “chunk.” These words have the same ending, and they all rhyme. This makes learning a set of words (a word family) easier on our beginning readers.

Word Families Throughout the Week

After learning our word families for the week, my students can read and spell a group of words independently. They feel incredibly successful at their accomplishment. They now have a larger bank of words they can read in the books they are encountering.
Teaching my students word families is an incredibly efficient way for me to teach my students how to read. Since we learn word families each week, I wanted to create a set of activities that students find fun and engaging, yet help them to become fluent in reading the words within a word family.

Monday Activities for Teaching Word Families

Each week we focus on two-word families at a time. I start with teaching the short vowel word families and start with the short ‘a’ word families. The words within those word families often follow a CVC or CVCC pattern. They are simple words that children often know and understand.
I introduce our word families one at a time, and as a class, we brainstorm all the words we can think of that end with that sound pattern. Then, I encourage my students to use our alphabet posters above our whiteboard as a reference. I will say, “take each letter one at a time and put it in front of the letter pattern. Does it make a word that makes sense?” If it makes sense, I ask them to put up their hand and share with the class. I record the words they come up with on our word chart. We discuss the meaning of each word.
Some weeks I like to switch things up, and I will have my students line up and rotate one at a time or in pairs to write down a word that they have come up with. I will sit close by and help if needed.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family posters
After we have our list of new words on our chart, my students will copy those words in their word family books. They are practicing their handwriting skills and rereading their new words at this time.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family book Phonics are Fun
I send our word family book home on Monday for families to practice at home all week.

Tuesday Activities for Teaching Word Families

Each morning during our carpet time, we review our word family words. I use a pocket chart to hold our word family word cards. Our star of the day enjoys pointing to the words as the class reads them aloud.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family cards
We also play phonics games to review our words and build our reading skills. I have these activities ready during my small groups and available for students to use during free time or “fast finisher” activities. We enjoy doing puzzles where you have to match a word with a picture.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family puzzles
We use our letter magnets or whiteboard markers to spell out our words. This activity makes a great literacy center!
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family spelling
I use metal drip pans for everything. They are so versatile and functional. They store easy and sit nicely on a shelf or against a wall. Check them out HERE!
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family spelling
I also put up a poster of word family words in the classroom for students to practice reading during the week. They can use this poster if they need ideas during our making words activities.

Wednesday Activities for Teaching Word Families

We review our words again during the morning meeting. I have the students close their eyes and spell words together or one by one aloud. We complete morning messages that have word family words missing. I switch up the activities we do together at the carpet to keep things fresh, so they are thinking in different ways.
We work on our reading fluency. Together, we print, build, make, spin, stamp, and draw our words. We do things where we are reading these words over and over. My students enjoy these activities because they stay busy and have fun too!
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family spin and spell
We spin to make word family words using a paper clip and record them in our booklets.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family word work
We complete our word work with our word family words. By repeating each word in different ways, my students are learning how to read, spell, and understand word meaning.

Thursday Activities for Teaching Word Families

During our morning meeting, we take out our small whiteboards and markers and practice recording our words. Sometimes they sit with a partner and quiz each other, and sometimes I will give them words to record. This exercise is a quick assessment for me to check how they are doing. This activity could also be a part of your small group time. We work more on word meaning. We have a few activities that we rotate through each week to keep things interesting. For instance, we complete our fill-in sheets for morning work, where we have to pick the correct word to fit in an empty space. We also create read, draw, and color books where we have to read a sentence, dray its meaning, and color the picture.

Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - phonics are fun word family books
They also have read and write the room mini-books to work on during literacy centers.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - read and write the room

Friday Activities for Teaching Word Families

On Friday, we do one final review of our words in the pocket chart before adding them to our word wall. We also have a spelling quiz where I give my students a mix of our spelling words, sight words, and word family words together. They do an excellent job after all this review!
I also have a few simple and fun activities set up for small groups, literacy centers, and “fast finishers” for students to complete for further review. They love to “create” words using Play-Doh and recording the words they find.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family playdough mats
Making their word family ties to wear around the class is fun too. They bring these home to show their parents their learning.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family ties

Word Families Homework

After printing the word family words in their books, they take them home in their home reading folder. Read about how I set up my home reading program and grab some FREE folder handouts HERE.
Once at home, I instruct my students and their parents that they should be reading through their words each day. They can make them, spell them on a sheet of paper, or any activity they want. Occasionally, I will send an activity home if they are looking for something extra.
Word Families: Proven Method for Teaching Reading - word family book

Resources for Teaching Word Families

You can check out all of the materials and activities you’ve seen in this post, in my Phonics are Fun comprehensive word family units for short vowels HERE. There’s a bundle available too!
word families phonics activities curriculum for kids
See the word families resource in action!  

Classroom Materials for Teaching Word Families

Wanting to grab some of the great learning resources that I used in this post? Check them out on Amazon.

FREE -AT Word Family Activities

To get started, check out the free downloadable resource: short ‘a’ vowel word family pack of activities. Click the image below to get your copy!


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word families ideas and activities for teaching

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