Why teach word families?
Word families are word ‘chunks’ that are found in a variety of words. Teaching students word families give them a tool for figuring out new words, because the sounds are familiar and follow the same pattern.
An example of a word family are the group of ‘-at’ words. Cat, bat, hat, sat, that, etc. Rather than teaching students to decode one word at a time, we can teach students to be fluent with the ‘at’ sound. When a child reads a new word, their prefrontal cortex is hard at work trying to retrieve each individual sound from memory, and place them all together. Helping students learn chunks of words alleviates the work their brain must do to read a new word.
So, teaching word families expands the number of words a student can read easily, as well as boosting fluency! It’s an important skill in early literacy. How can we teach word families?
In order to ensure that students solidify their understanding of word families, we want to give them many opportunities to practice! I recommend offering different independent activities in centers, for morning work, or as other opportunities for independent work arise. This can be in the form of task cards, worksheets, building word tasks, and more!
To solidify any skill with your students, it’s great to create a routine with practicing. Journals are a great way to get regular practice of word families, and grow your students as readers!
You can prep journals to focus on one vowel sound at a time, or create one, year-long journal with all vowel sounds. Journals are great weekly practice to reinforce a new vowel sound that you are practicing.
Printable games and activities are a great way to grow literacy skills of any kind! Create a series of word family stations, and introduce them intermittently throughout the year. This allows students to practice the skills you’re currently learning. Then, after prepping an activity once, you can bring it back out in future months to spiral review skills.
Need more Word Family Practice?
You can get started with regular word family practice in your classroom today! Just grab either my short vowel activity pack or my long vowel activity pack. Each set of activities includes independent practice, printable activities, and word family journals! These resources will help your students solidify their understanding of word families, and in turn will grow their literacy skills all around!