Working with Word Families, Part 2.

I shared the weekly breakdown of how I teach Word Families in my students in a previous post, which you can find here.  I also wanted to share some other ways we practice word families as well.  

During our study of word families, we cover each vowel sound by studying a few word families in a row.  Then we spend some time comparing word families with different vowel sounds as our students become more proficient with using word families, blending and substituting sounds, etc... 

We do a lot of our word family practice in our literacy centers and during guided reading groups, but I introduce and teach the word families whole group during phonics.

Making Words with Different Word Families:
As my students became more sophisticated in substituting beginning sounds to make different words using the same onset and rime, we did some different activities that allowed them to practice substituting different ending sounds as well.  During one "short week", we took some time to review some of the word families we had already learned.  We did a making words activity in which the students had to practice substituting both beginning and ending sounds.  For example, they made the word "ham" and changed the ending sound to "hat".  Then they changed "hat" to "cat."  

They actually did pretty well with it!   I was quite proud of them! 

Word Families During Literacy Centers:

We also practice our word families during our centers.  This gives the students extra reinforcement of that sound.  We teach a sound the first week, and then the next week, there was usually some sort of word family activity in at least one of the centers. 

Spin a Word Family: 
One activity they really liked was this 'Spin a Word Family' activity.  The students had to use a spinner to spin a beginning sound, and then blend that beginning sound with the rime.  Then they had to write the word.  

Poetry Notebooks:
Each week, they also added the poem from the previous week in their Poetry notebooks during their Poetry center.  They had to cut it out, glue it in their notebook, and highlight both the word family words and their sight words in different colors. We did this together as a class the week before, and we read the poem several times, so most of the students could complete this task independently.

After gluing the poem in their notebook and highlighting their word family and sight words, they had to read the poem to a grown up.  Usually this was my fabulous assistant or our "Foster Granny."  Here, you can see my assistant helping one of my students read her poem. 

The kids loved their poetry notebooks.  They would practice reading each of the poems they put in there when they had some free time.  It was always fun to hear them try to read with expression, since we practiced that when we read all of our poems together.

Word Family Sorting: 
We also did word family sorting activities as well.  We sorted word family vs. word family.  Our first word family sorts had the same medial vowel sound, but we worked our way up to word families with different vowel sounds.  We also did some differentiation, where we had some students working on sorting with different vowel sounds, while some of them were sorting with the same vowel sound because they were still struggling.  I was able to tell who was still struggling by looking at their center work, as well as classroom observations.  

I'm pretty sure their favorite part of doing the sort is coloring the pictures afterwards!

Onset-Rime Word Building:
We also did an onset-rime word building and blending activity that the kids loved.  We used familiar word families and the students had to build words and write them.

The onsets and rimes to build different words were in this little bucket from the dollar store.  The students found an onset and a rime and put them together.  

If the onset and rime made a real word, the students had to record it on their recording sheet.

Then they practiced reading the words they wrote on their recording sheets.

Word Families in Guided Reading:
We also practiced word families in our Guided Reading groups.  One way we practiced is by doing Making Words using some of the sounds we found in the books we were reading.  I gave the students each a set of magnetic letters, and we manipulated the words together.  As we made new words, I wrote them down for us to practice reading later.

We also did Making Words using a whiteboard and marker.  Instead of manipulating the letters to make new words, we just used a whiteboard and changed the letters on the board.  Since we all know how much our kids love dry erase boards and markers, this was a huge hit!

I also have these "Build a Word" cards and "Change It!" cards that we used during our Guided Reading.  I thought I had a picture of my kids writing on them, but I guess not.  Do you know how hard it is to stop and take pictures when you're trying to teach reading?!   VERY!!!

Anyway, the Build a Word cards are very similar to Elkonin boxes and can be used that way, where the students push up the sounds into the boxes.  They can also become wipe off cards if the student is given a dry eraser.  Or the students can build the word with magnetic letters.  These are so versatile, I used them in different ways for different groups of students.

The "Change It" cards allow the students to practice substituting beginning sounds.  They start off with one word, and they have to change the beginning sound to make a different word.  These can also be used with a dry erase maker.  I like these because they can be a quick 30-second assessment activity.  Give each student a "Change It" card.and allow them to practice substituting different beginning sounds until they've learned them all.

And of course, I couldn't write a whole post about word families without a freebie!  There are 4 different sorts included in this freebie.  To download, just click on the cover.


You can find the activities mentioned in this post in my Word Family Bundle

Thanks for reading!  If you want to read how I introduce and teach word families each week, you can check out my post here.


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