10 Fun Activities on Word Families!

Language Development

Word families are groups of words that have a common spelling pattern – they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. Words like cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the “at” sound. Children progress as better readers when they can identify chunks in words like word families (e.g. Words ending with -at, -in) In teaching word families, children learn how to blend sounds (like c-at, b-in). It helps them to decode words faster, improving their word recognition skills as well as spelling skills. Reading books with lots of rhymes like Dr Seuss also helps develop their phonological awareness.

For emergent readers, after they have mastered the phonics sounds, they can proceed to learn word families or words that rhyme. Some word families you can start with are -at, -in, -ig, -an, -ing, -ot.

I have come up with a series of fun and hand-on activities for your beginner reader to pick up new words quickly and enjoyably! Here goes:

1. Sliding Cards!

You can also create word family cards with a movable list of beginning sounds ( an idea that all phonics teachers are familiar with!). Just slide the card up and down & blend the different beginning sounds and the rime (-at, -in) to help them read. First introduce and read the rime ( e.g. -at, -ot). Model the blending slowly for the child by emphasizing the beginning sound, then blend it with the rime. With practice and repetition, the child will be able to see the word patterns in the word families, and effectively decode the words for pronunciation. This activity is visually stimulating and hands-on for little readers!  You can create pictures of objects or animals on the cards that interest your child! Have fun!

183130_10151636215138534_1591308804_n 405812_10151636215058534_356495284_n 942893_10151636215253534_46281740_n

2. Word Family (Onset and Rime) Blocks

For this activity, I created a word family game using some wooden blocks from your child’s collection. Just glue different beginning letter sounds on the blocks. Rotate the block to create different words in the same word family like -at. Or play a game where the child tosses the block like a dice and blends the sounds together to read the word

943258_10151636211048534_1595601587_n  417848_10151636214978534_577650863_n

 3. Paper rolls and balls!

Just gather some toilet rolls and plastic balls! You can also use pong pong balls or golf balls! Print out the words and pictures and stick them on. You can blend onset (beginning sound) and the rime (-at) for your child. Then in your second round of reading the words, you can ask your child to pick out the right picture that matches the correct word. With practice and repetition, your child will be able to see the word patterns in the word families, and effectively decode the words for pronunciation. This activity is visually stimulating and hands-on for little readers!

IMG_8795     IMG_8782

4. Scrabble Letter Chips

To prepare the tray, simply select the scrabble letters for the word family (example:-at) , and various beginning sounds (example: c,b,r,m) for the child to explore different rhyming words. You can use a mini blackboard for my little girl to arrange the chips. I love how this simple activity is so hands-on and concrete! It makes blending of sounds and picking of new words so engaging and interesting!

IMG_8838     IMG_8847

5. Plastic Eggs!

You can find these lovely egg containers at toy stores or during Easter season! Just stick the different beginning sounds and twist and turn it to blend into various words in the same word family!  I have these lovely eggs in a basket, and they certainly will capture your child’s attention! This is one hands-on idea that will definitely be a big hit with kids learning to read!

IMG_8835  IMG_8901

6. Wooden Letters

Gather all the wooden or foam letters in your house and create word families for your child to play with! Simply print out pictures to match with the words, and your child will learn about the meaning of the words effortlessly!

IMG_8861    IMG_8862

7. Clothespins!

This is one cheap and easy-to-make material! Just stick letter labels or write the letter on the clothes pegs with a marker. Clip the clothes pegs on an ice-cream stick to form each word in the word family. As you blend the beginning sound, simply slide the clothespin with the beginning sound (s) towards the ending rime (-it). Join the letters together to form the full word!

934820_10151636218963534_1138339667_n 923263_10151636219183534_1857835679_n Using clothespins to teach word families

Using clothespins to teach word families

8. Pebbles!

Simply write the letters on pebbles to create rhyming words! Let your child explore this tactile activity of holding and grasping the concrete material!

484177_10151518706898534_1021826925_n

9. Word Family Calendar!

Simply recycle your used calendar, and cut it into two parts. Paste beginning sounds and ending sounds on both sides, and get your child to flip the pages to create rhyming words for the same family!

IMG_8905

10. Read Books with Rhymes!

Reading is a sure way to get your child to develop phonemic awareness of rhyming words! Dr Seuss and many other phonics readers are great in familiarizing your child with rhymes!

Teaching Word Families- Using Scrabble Chips

This is an activity following our series of using creative resources to teach word families.To introduce the word family, I would have read to her some of the words in the family like cat, rat, mat, and sat. Reading Dr Seuss’ ‘Cat in the Hat or other phonics books is a good way of introducing children to gain awareness of how rhyming words sound like.

To prepare the tray, simply select the scrabble letters for the word family (example:-at) , and various beginning sounds (example: c,b,r,m) for the child to explore different rhyming words. I used a mini blackboard for my little girl to arrange the chips.

IMG_8838 IMG_8841

Playing with rhyming words/ word families

I first laid out the ending sounds -at on the blackboard. And I placed different beginning sounds and modeled how to sound out the word by blending the beginning sound and the ending letters (example: b-at, bat).

IMG_8844  IMG_8847

Watching me blend different letter sounds to create different words made my girl really curious about exploring the activity for herself. She swapped the letters one by one, and attempted to sound out the word with a little help from me. Over several repetition, she was beaming with pride that she could read out some words from the word family. She had so much rearranging the scrabble chips that she started creating nonsense words like zat, lat, kat! We had fun trying to pronounce these words and she even started imagining what they meant! She insisted, ” Zat is a type of zebra!” I really chuckled with laughter as she played with meaning of these words!

IMG_8874 IMG_8885 IMG_8890

I love how this simple activity is so hands-on and concrete! It makes blending of sounds and picking of new words so engaging and interesting!

Look out for our next post of 5 and more activities to teach word families!