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Teaching Word Families

Updated on September 13, 2014

Teaching Word Families to Kids with Games, Worksheets, and Activities

I'm a homeschooling mom of two boys. One of them has been working on word families, which is the first step to reading after they know their letter sounds. During our studies, I collected many word family lists, games, activities and worksheets. I documented my favorite here, so that they might be of help to other homeschooling families. If you like these ideas for teaching word families, please leave a note at the bottom. Happy reading!

Teaching Word Families
Teaching Word Families

What is a Word Family?

Why do we use Word Families?

Once a child knows the individual letter sounds, it's time to begin stringing them together. This is usually done with CVC words first, or three letter words following the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern. Some examples are cat, dog, and pig.

The most common way to teach CVC words is in families. Words belonging to the "AT" family for example, are cat, rat, hat, mat, sat, bat, and pat. Teaching children words in families helps them become more fluent readers, as they recognize the letter patterns more quickly and easily.

Teaching Word Families:

Teaching words together as families bridges words that are already known to words that are new.

How Do You Teach a Word Family?

Step 1 - Cards to Teach Word Families

In the steps below, the "AT" family is used. That's a pretty common word family to start with. After following these instructions for word family cards, you can get more practice with the "AT" family by using sliders, spinners, bingo and books as explained below.

1. Make an index card with the word, "at" on it. Have the child practice reading "at." When you think the child is comfortable blending the "a" and "t" to make the word at, move on to step 2.

2. Place the "at" index card on the table. Using the letter "c" written in the same size print on a second index card, lay the "c" in front of the word "at." Tell them that the new word is "cat" Ask them to find the "at" in the word. (You can underline "at" to help them visualize it.) Ask them to find the "c" at the beginning of the word cat.

3. Next, remove the "c" and place an index card with an "h" written on it in front of the "at." Tell the child the new word is "hat." Ask them to find the "at" in the word. (You can underline "at" to help them visualize it.) Ask them to find the "h" at the beginning of the word "hat."

3. Make index cards with b, m, r, s, v, p and the remaining beginning letters of each word below. Use these index cards to add to the "at" card you used in step one, to practice reading each of the words in the "at" family. If your child gets stuck, simply help them sound out the word.

Word Family Flash Cards - from Amazon

If you don't want to make your own flashcards, you can purchase word family cards here. This set has the simple CVC words that children begin with, such as cat, mat, and hat. It also has more advanced cards for later learning.

Learning Resources Snap It Up! Phonics & Reading Card Game
Learning Resources Snap It Up! Phonics & Reading Card Game

Word family cards. Teaching word families by putting cards together to form words.

 

Here is another helpful teaching tool from Lakeshore Learning. These flip books are used to teach children a variety of words with the same ending spelling, by flipping the page to change the beginning of the word only.

Lakeshore Learning Word Family Flip Books

Teaching Word Families with Slider
Teaching Word Families with Slider

Teaching Word Families with Sliders

Step 2 - Sliders as Teaching Word Families Games

Sliders make a game of teaching word families. Sliders work by keeping the end of the word, such as "at" in position, while changing the beginning letter of the word, such as "c, h, m, s, or r."

Sliders can easily be made at home. Print out these free paper sliders from Schoolsparks.com and cut them out.

You can also avoid the headaches of printing and cutting, by buying sliders from Lakeshore Learning below.

Word Family Sliders from Lakeshore Learning - Sliders for Teaching Word Families

Lakeshore Learning has several helpful teaching tools for word families. The sliders seen here, are used to teach children a variety of words with the same ending spelling, by sliding the beginning letters to change them.

Lakeshore Learning Word Family Sliders

Teaching word families with word wheels
Teaching word families with word wheels

Teaching Word Families with Spinners

Step 3 - Spinners as Teaching Word Families Games

Word wheels are similar to sliders in that the first letter changes while the end of the word remains constant. It teaches children to quickly recognize the end of the word and facilitates reading fluency.

You can also print and make your own word family wheels for free by following one of the links below. As with the sliders, the wheels are available for purchase from Lakeshore Learning if you don't want to go through the trouble of printing, cutting and attaching the word family wheels.

Word Family Wheels from Super Teacher Worksheets

Instructions that Don't Require Printing from Come Together Kids

Lakeshore Learning has several helpful teaching tools for word families. The sliders seen here, are used to teach children a variety of words with the same ending spelling, by sliding the beginning letters to change them.

Lakeshore Learning Word Family Sliders

Teaching Word Families with Bingo
Teaching Word Families with Bingo

Teaching Word Families with Bingo

Step 4 Bingo as Teaching Word Families Games

Allow your child to delve deep into word family practice by playing bingo games. As each word is called out, the child must find the word family at the top of the card, then look down through the words in each column to find it. You can make your own bingo cards easily with this free blank bingo card template from Billy Bear Kids.

Blank Word Family Bingo Cards

Word Family Bingo - from Amazon.com

If you don't want to make your own bingo cards, you can opt to buy these word family bingo ladders from Amazon.com

AT Word Family Book
AT Word Family Book

Teaching Word Families with Books

Step 5 - Practice Word Families by Reading Books

After a child has learned to read several words in a word family, they can reinforce what they know, by reading word family books. There are some free printable word family books online at Education.com. You will need to sign in to access these books, but registration is free and the site has a wealth of free printable worksheets.

AT Word Family Book

AN Word Family Book

More Free Printable Word Family Books from Education.com

Teaching Word Families with Worksheets - Step 6 - Worksheets to Teach Word Families

The BIG Word Families List!

Below is a comprehensive list of 3 letter (CVC) word families to use in the activities above.

AT Word Family

  • cat
  • bat
  • mat
  • rat
  • hat
  • sat
  • vat
  • pat

The "AN" Family

Word Families List

Here is the "AN" family word list.

*van

*man

*Jan

*Dan

*ran

*can

*pan

*fan

The "ET" Word Family

*bet

*get

*jet

*let

*met

*net

*pet

*set

*vet

*wet

*yet

The "IG" Family

Word Families List "IG"

*big

*dig

*fig

*wig

*pig

*gig

*jig

*rig

The "UG" Family

Word Families List

*jug

*mug

*hug

*bug

*rug

*tug

The "EN" Word Family

Word Families List "EN"

*pen

*den

*men

*ten

*hen

*Ben

*Ken

*Jen

*Len

The "AG" Word Family

Word Families List "AG"

*bag

*gag

*hag

*wag

*lag

*nag

*sag

*rag

*tag

The "OD" Word Family

Word Families List "OD"

*cod

*nod

*pod

*sod

*rod

*God

The "OT" Word Family

List of Word Families Ending in "OT"

*cot

*dot

*rot

*got

*hot

*jot

*lot

*not

*pot

*tot

The "OB" Word Family

Word Families List Ending in "OB"

*cob

*job

*mob

*rob

*sob

*Bob

The "OP" Word Family

*cop

*hop

*mop

*pop

*top

The "IT" Word Family

*bit

*kit

*fit

*hit

*lit

*pit

*sit

*wit

The "IN" Word Family

*bin

*fin

*gin

*kin

*win

*pin

*sin

*tin

The "IM" Word Family

*dim

*him

*rim

*Kim

*Tim

*Jim

The "ID" Word Family

*bid

*lid

*did

*mid

*rid

The "UN" Word Family

*bun

*fun

*gun

*hun

*nun

*pun

*run

*sun

The "UT" Word Family

*cut

*gut

*hut

*nut

*put

*rut

The "UM" Word Family

*bum

*gum

*hum

*sum

The "ED" Word Family

*bed

*fed

*led

*red

*wed

*Ted

Re-writable mini books for teaching word families

Teaching word families with mini books. These are one of our favorite resources too.

Make Your Own Flip Books for Teaching Word Families

I came across this idea for do it yourself flip books at Pinterest. At the "Quirky Momma Blog" they tell us how they made them.

When creating these for word families, I would cut the page only once, leaving "an" on a page and allowing the first page to be flipped with letters, "c," "r," "D," etc. I'd make a separate book for each word family.

Make Your Own Flip Books for Word Families

Rhyming Houses - More practice after teaching word families

Lakeshore What’s the Rhyme Sorting Houses
Lakeshore What’s the Rhyme Sorting Houses

My boys love these as a way of practicing word families. They are called "rhyming houses" because kids sort the word cards by putting them in the house with other words that rhyme. Because the words rhyme they usually end in the same spelling, so you are also reinforcing word families.

One example is the "ing" word house. It has a picture of a ring on the front roof of the house, below it is the word "ring" spelled out. The cards that go in this house include "sing," "king," "string," and "wing." As you can see the words rhyme, but it can also be said that these words are part of the "ing" word family. Plenty of reinforcement and word family practice results from playing with these cute little rhyming houses.

 

Word Family Videos

YouTube videos about symmetry.

Word Families

Questions or comments about teaching word families? - Leave them here!

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    • profile image

      Valeriaestefani 2 years ago

      I don't even know what to say, this made things so much earesi!

    • profile image

      Alexavia 2 years ago

      Yeah that's what I'm talking about ba-yn-bice work!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What about the activity at the very top (add the initial sound and the picture)? Where can we find that resource? Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you so much ! I have been looking for ideas for my 19 month old girl. She is a fast learner and is very determine to start reading. Thank you for some great ideas, I plan to do homeschooling with her and it's great to find some good fun ideas. Keep it up!!

    • duslan profile image

      duslan 5 years ago

      I love these suggestions. I am a tutor in an after school program and I plan to use some of these in my groups! Also check out Words Their Way sorts for more complex families, like letter blends in the middle of words. Go to resources.benchmarkeducation.com to sign up for a free account and print out hundreds of mini-books as well!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You have made learning word families so much fun here. My sister was a reading tutor with AmeriCorps a few years ago with K-3 and discovered that some of her students loved doing poetry as they worked on word families. Blessed

    • profile image

      superteacher 5 years ago

      Hey - It's Tim from Super teacher Worksheets. Thanks for mentioning our spinners on this lens. Great job with the word family information and resources. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      great stuff. can teach my son with these

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 6 years ago

      Great resource - nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is excellent!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Great resources for teaching reading!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      wonderful resource here! Wish I had access to this when I was teaching!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Homeschooling moms rock!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Ooh, I love word games! These look like great learning tools for parents wanting to boost their child's reading. We were often asked at the library what a parent could do for this.

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      Great resource you've put together here! :)

    • patinkc profile image

      patinkc 6 years ago from Midwest

      I love this lens. Thank you for providing so many options for learning to read.