To introduce the idea of word families I used a few different activities. I had a small magnetic board that I held on my lap. On the front I put an A and a T magnet. On the back where the children could not see them I put the letters C, H, S, P, M, B. Then I got out my puppet Sally Snail who talks very slowly.
Sally read the word AT in a slow voice. Then I put the letter C on the board – with a good space between the C and the AT. Slowly I moved them together and Sally would read the sounds: /c/ /at/, /c/ /at/, /c/ /at/ – until finally she stretched it out /cat/. Sally would be excited that she made a new word.
I took off the C and put on a B, then repeated pushing them together. The children started joining in right away – “helping” Sally figure out the word.
After going through a bunch of AT words I put Sally away – or I did the next activity at another time. I covered the front of the magnet board with a blanket from our play house (of course anything would do!) Then I told the children that I was going to do a magic trick for them. With a big flourish I pulled the blanket away and usually some children read the word AT right away – if not I would read it. Then I quickly covered it up again and told the children I would magically change the word AT to a new word. I covered the board again and added a consonant to the beginning – then I had the children tell me a magic word – pulled it off and read the new word. I could do this quickly because the children had already seen these words when Sally was pushing the letters together.
I repeated changing the letters behind the blanket – saying a magic word – then quickly showing the new word. The kids loved this! If I left out the materials they loved playing it themselves during centers too. Sometimes I added a “challenge” word – that added 2 letters to the front of the word – flat, that, etc. That offered more of a challenge to higher readers too.
Sometimes I did a similar activity by writing the words on a wipe off board. When you make a game of it the children really engaged.
I also loved using a song called Family Rhyme I found on a Dr. Jean CD that used the tune of The Addams Family! I usually sang it without the CD. Here are the words:
Tune – Addams Family
Family rhyme, (snap, snap) family rhyme (snap, snap)
Family rhyme, family rhyme, family rhyme!
There’s bat and there’s cat
There’s fat and there’s hat
There’s mat and there’s pat
The AT family
There’s bar and there’s car
There’s far and there’s jar
There’s star and there’s tar
The AR family.
There’s dog and there’s fog
There’s hog and there’s jog
There’s log and there’s frog
The OG family
There’s can and there’s fan
There’s pan and there’s man
There’s ran and there’s tan
The AN family.
Here is a printable version of the words:
Sorry I typed Family time instead of Family rhyme – who knows why but after I imported it I couldn’t change it!
To play along with the “family” idea I made a simple house shape
I put the AT in the triangle at the top, and listed the at words inside the rectangle.
I laminated these ‘family houses’ and put them in a 3 ring binder. I used a pointer and we sang the Family Rhyme song as we read these words. The children had access to this binder and pointers during free choice too!
Here are some more of the family houses.
I know there are many more word families – I hope you have fun with them!