Word Families Book

A few years ago I shared some ideas for introducing Word Families in another post – check it out if you are interested, just type word families in the search bar.  I know there is a way to insert a link – but that is beyond my technological abilities!

Learning to read word families allows children to easily read so many more simple words.  It also gives them practice starting with the initial sound of a word and blending the other sounds.

My first plan was just to give Max a page like this:


But then I was thinking how my children always like books that have parts they can move or play with, so I thought they might like this a little more.

I used cardstock and made a copy of a house with blank windows and asked Max to cut it out.  I helped cut the windows.


Here is the master.

Then I printed off pages with the word families.

Now Max can take the house and lay it over the words so they show through the windows.

I will staple all the word family sheets on the left side with this cover.


If you fold construction paper to make a cover, and glue this on you could also tape a pocket on the inside of the cover to hold the house.

Here are the pages to print.

pdf fam rhyme book

On my first post about Family Rhymes I mentioned a great song by Dr. Jean Feldman, to the tune of the Addams Family.   It’s called Rime Time and it is on her CD “Sing and Learn.”   I’m singing it in my head right now!


More Fun with Nursery Rhymes!

Nora is exploring Nursery Rhymes!  At 18 months she loves to play with some plastic Humpty Dumpty and Old Woman in the Shoe toys.  She has no concern about memorization or rhyming – she just loves to manipulate the toys and yell out “Humpy Dumpy!”  But I know that she is developing essential language skills when she explores the rhythm and patterns of these rhymes.   She is gaining phonemic awareness as she plays with words, she is learning vocabulary when I explain words like broth, fleece, fiddle and curds and whey.   She is starting to sing some of the rhymes and she echoes the inflection of our voices as we emphasize different parts of the rhymes.  Nursery Rhymes are part of our culture and I think it is important for children to experience them.  In Kindergarten these rhymes can be used to enhance early reading skills in lots of ways.

One of my favorite ways to use Nursery Rhymes was to retell them.  Each rhyme is really a miniature story that children can act out, sing or retell from memory.  They gain confidence in retelling when they are repeating something they are so familiar with.  I was very excited to find some wonderful clipart images of Nursery Rhymes on my Kidoodlez Early Years CD.   Most of the pictures I am sharing are from this CD, please visit them at djinkers.com.

Here are some pictures of the characters from a variety of rhymes that could be used as necklaces or stapled onto headbands.  When the children act out these short rhymes they are speaking, listening and moving.  Because they are so short it is easy to take turns and let lots of children actively participate.

HumptyThe child playing Humpty Dumpty could sit on a low table or stool, then “fall” off!



MuffetA stool could be used as a tuffet., along with a bowl and spoon for the curds and whey!

JackJill The children could hold onto a bucket and pretend to climb up a hill,


You could draw a large shoe shape on paper for all the children to try to fit into!


For this retelling I would put moveable hands on the clock so the children can turn the hands and point to 1:00.

Hey Diddle

Hey Diddle 2 Of course the cow would need a moon made from something like yellow construction paper to jump over!

Boy Blue

Boy Blue 2

It would be fun if they had a real horn to blow, and you could cut out some corn for the corn field and flowers for the meadow!  The haystack could be taped onto a chair and Little Boy Blue could “sleep” behind it. 

NimbleI had an antique looking metal candle holder that we used with this rhyme.  As each child jumped over we changed the rhyme to include his or her name.  “Owen be nimble, Owen be quick!”

You could also make stick puppets with these characters by taping them onto paint sticks or tongue depressors.

I also created some small stand up figures to go along with each Nursery Rhyme.  You could run these off as they are, or cut them apart and use them as stick puppets too!   Children can manipulate these figures as they retell the rhyme.

Humpty Dumpty


Here is Humpty’s wall along with the haystack from Little Boy Blue.

wall haystack

Little Boy Blue 

Boy blue

Old Mother Hubbard 

Mother hub

cupboard hill 

Jack and Jill

Jack Jill

Jack Be Nimble


Little Miss Muffet

Muffet spider 

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary Lamb 

Hey Diddle Diddle


Diddle 2 

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

woman shoe

Tuffet shoe

Here is an example of the stand up figures from Little Boy Blue.


I did a bit of cut and pasting to make pictures that the children could cut out and put together in the right sequence.  Using these pictures would also be helpful for kids learning the rhymes.

Mary Lamb sequence

Little boy blue seq

Humpty Dumpty Sequence 

I also used this great clipart from DJ Inkers to make a couple of  rebus stories for the children to read. 


Humpty rebus 

Mother Hubbard rebus 

Nursery Rhymes provide great practice with concepts about print, one to one word correspondence and early reading.  Because the children sing and memorize these rhymes most of them are successful “reading” them.  I loved putting the words into a pocket chart or posting a large copy of the rhymes on the wall for children to read.  I put together this sheet of characters that could be taped onto tongue depressors or popsicle sticks to make reading pointers.  Great for reading the room! 

Nursery rhyme pointers


I was thinking that I would also like  to keep a set of these sticks in a can at circle time.  It would be fun to have a child pull out a rhyme for the class to remember and recite when you have a few minutes to fill.


Here is a die I made that you could use to reinforce the rhymes or put at a center.  You could run this off on cardstock and tape it together.  When I wanted to make a cube that was more sturdy I got 2 empty milk cartons from the school cafeteria.  I cut them off so they were square cubes, and pushed one inside the other.  Then you could cover it with paper or contact paper, or just glue the pictures onto each side.  These milk carton cubes are almost indestructible!


I also made this little board game as another opportunity to practice the rhymes.  The children could use buttons or coins as markers, and a spinner or die.

Board game 

Here is another activity, the children need to identify which pictures are from the same Nursery Rhyme.  There are 2 pictures that go along with the first picture in each row.  The children cut them out and glue them on so there are 3 in a row from each different rhyme.

Matching game 2

Matching game 1 

I don’t really think that Nursery Rhymes are the best way to introduce or teach the skill of rhyming because there are really not very many rhyming words in these chants, and the rhymes are far apart.  But they can be good for reinforcing rhyming.   For this activity the children cut apart the pictures and find the 2 words that rhyme and then glue them next to each other on the recording sheet.

rhyming game 2

rhyming game 1

I found these small fold up books at Kidzone, please visit their site for more great ideas!







I hope you can use some of these ideas to have fun with Nursery Rhymes with the children in your life too!


Poems and Fingerplays

There are so many valid, important reasons to use a lot of poems and fingerplays with young children.  First of all, they are interactive and fun, they help get children’s attention and participation and keep them engaged.   Poems and fingerplays are also great ways to expose children to rhyming and new vocabulary.  Some fingerplays encourage counting, or counting backward.

We all know that different children learn through a variety of styles, and you can present poems and fingerplays different ways too.  Sometimes you might just chant off a poem, encouraging listening or echoing back; which is great for auditory learners.  You might add physical movements – whole body movements, or hand and finger movements as you recite the poems; that suits kinesthetic learners.  I also love acting out poems and nursery rhymes – or having 5 children stand up and sit down one at a time with a count down rhyme.

I found the easiest way to keep most children engaged and participating with simple poems and rhymes is to include pictures.  When you allow the children to hold and manipulate the pictures as you recite the poems you are incorporating auditory, visual and kinesthetic styles, and the kids love it!

One of my favorite sources for clipart is DJ Inkers.  If you are not familiar with their great products please check them out at http://www.djinkers.com.  Most of the clipart I am sharing on this post are copyright by Dianne J. Hook.  I know you will love her pictures too!

photo 2 (7)

Here is a book I made for my grandchildren that holds pictures to go with a bunch of different rhymes.

photo 1 (10)

I printed off a copy of each poem and pictures to go along with them.  I bought a 1 1/2 inch binder and these clear plastic sleeves.  These probably would not hold up if a classroom of kids were taking the pictures in and out, but it works great for a family.  When I used these at school I laminated the pictures and kept each poem along with the pictures in a 9 x 13 inch manilla envelope.  For my grandchildren I put the poem into one plastic sleeve, and the cut out pictures into another.

photo 1 (6)

photo (19)

I cut small pieces of magnetic tape (from JoAnn’s or Michael’s) on the back of each piece.  If you are more comfortable with a flannelboard instead of a magnet board, you might put a small piece of sandpaper on the back of each piece and that works great too!

photo 3 (5)

You can use a large pan or cookie sheet as a magnet board too.

photo 2 (8)


Here is the cover I put into the clear cover on the outside of the binder.  I have made these books for several families and usually put the child’s name on the cover.

Here are some of the poems I included:

5 Little snomen fat

5 snowmen2

5 snowmen1

You could also laminate these pictures and call on 5 children to hold the snowmen.  I put the sun on a tongue depressor – or made a larger one on a paint stick.  When we recite the part that says “out came the sun and melted one” a child holding the sun touches the snowman, then we removed that snowman from the magnet board, or if kids were holding them – that child sat down.

We often made a project by folding paper to make a pocket and cutting out 5 snowmen and a sun.  The children could keep their snowmen in the “snow pocket” and act out the poem at home.

Five Monkeys



More monkeys



Five Green Frogs

frog pic1

frog pic2

Five Ducks

5 Duck pics


hive pic


Here are a few more poems that I enjoy doing with children, but I didn’t use pictures with these – we just did the motions!

Tommy Thumbs

Ten Fingers

Open shut

Grandma's glasses

Crackers and Crumbs

shapesI had songs about shapes that I shared on another post, and used these simple shapes to go along with those songs.

Coming soon – Nursery Rhymes!

Thank you to Dianne J. Hook and djinkers for allowing me to share their wonderful clipart, please respect their copyright.  They allow me to share these images because I do not charge for any of the things I share with you.  They do offer a license at a reasonable price, please check them out at http://www.djinkers.com.

Word Families!

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:

Family time song

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!

Nursery Rhyme Projects

Hey!  I finally posted a copy of the Nursery Rhyme book that several people have been asking about!  You can find it under the Rhyming section, at the end of the blog I first wrote to tell about it.  Sorry it took me so long!

I love sharing Nursery Rhymes with children.  I am starting to repeat them and read them to my grandson, Owen.  I have a few little toys that I use to act them out for him.  In my classroom we acted out most of them because I think that’s a great way to help children remember them.  We also made projects to go along with a lot of the rhymes when I was teaching Kindergarten.

I did not save many of my files when I retired, but when I borrowed back the book I used to reinforce Nursery Rhymes from a friend I taught with (Thank you Laura!) she had several of the projects I used to do with kids in the same file.

For Mary Had a Little Lamb I took a 9 x 12 piece of paper and folded it in 3rds, the tall way.  Then I stapled or taped it like a tent.  The children decorated and cut out a lamb head and body.  They glued them onto the front of the little tent, on the back they glued the poem.  The third side was on the bottom.  We punched a hole near one top corner and attached a piece of yarn.  The children could walk and pull the lamb behind them.  I especially loved making projects that the kids could play with!  Here are the patterns for the lamb:

Mary Had Little Lamb

It was fun to make a Humpty Dumpty that could actually ‘fall off the wall.’  The children traced and cut out a large oval from a 9 x 6 piece of white paper.  Then they tore red paper into ‘bricks,’ and glued them onto a 9 x 6 piece of black paper.  Tearing paper is such a great activity to develop fine motor strength and control.  They used a brad fastener to hold Humpty onto the top of the wall.  As they recited the story they could turn Humpty upside down.  We glued a copy of the poem on the back.    We often cooked scrambled eggs to go along with this project!

For several of the poems we made little booklets they could decorate to reinforce the rhyme.

Here is Little Boy Blue.

Little Boy Blue

I would copy these pages back to back and fold them in half.  I had clipart of  a cow, a sheep, a horn and a haystack.  The children colored them and glued them onto the right page.  They taped the haystack so they could lift it up and see the boy sleeping under it.  (Sorry, my friend didn’t have copies of the clipart but it would be easy to find – or have the children draw!)

The Old Mother Hubbard book was similar.

Old Mother Hubbard

The children folded a piece of tan or brown paper for a cupboard, then drew what might have been inside the cupboard if she didn’t have food (spiderwebs, empty boxes, etc.)  Then they drew or added clipart pictures to finish the rhyme.

Hey Diddle Diddle was a smaller fold up – it ended up being 1/4 page size.  The idea was the same though.  I found when the children made a little booklet like this it really helped them to remember and recite the rhyme.

Hey Diddle Diddle

I hope you have fun with these rhymes with your class too!

Nursery Rhymes

In our district, Nursery Rhymes are considered an important form of literature and it has been part of the Kindergarten curriculum for a long time.  It is amazing to see how many children are totally unfamiliar with these rhymes.  I used to concentrate on these rhymes during December, and the children “performed” them during our Holiday program.  My class did several performances for the parents during the year – my goal was for them to feel comfortable in front of an audience, and to have fun with it.  I think it is also a wonderful form of PR – parents love seeing their children perform, and it is an opportunity to do some parent education – which is also a big part of kindergarten.

I used some resources that made Nursery Rhymes more fun as well as more exciting as a presentation.

This Bruce Lansky book gave a silly version of many common Nursery Rhymes.  I love to encourage the children to play with language and have fun changing books and text.  This book was an easy way to re-do rhymes:

For example:  “Little Boy Blue, STOP blowing your horn.  You’ll wake up the neighbors, it’s 2 in the morn!”

So my Kindergartners learned the standard rhyme and the silly rhyme.  I have learned that children are much more comfortable performing in front of a group if they have motions to do, so I added ASL signs to the standard rhymes.  I used sign language often because it presented a new challenge to children who were already familiar with skills, provided opportunities for increasing fine motor dexterity, and most of all made children comfortable when they see people using sign language in our community.  I am not skilled in sign language but a simple sign language book allowed me to add signs for important words in each rhyme and made it more fun to perform and watch.

Here are the sign language books I used a lot:

I loved teaching the sign language alphabet also – and the kids loved it too!

Another skill I wanted to work on with the children at this point in the year was writing their name using lower case letters.  At the beginning of the year I was delighted if they could write their name so I could decipher it, but by this point I wanted to help them write it conventionally beginning with a capital letter and the rest lower case.  I got a coloring book of nursery rhymes and used white out on the face of the character for each rhyme.  I photocopied the faces of my class and cut them out.  We changed the rhymes again to use our own names in each rhyme.  For example:  Megan had a little lamb …

On the blanks where they filled in their own names they needed to write it using lower case letters.  I made a name card using a teacher type font on my computer that was kept in a pocket on the cover of the book.  By the end of this book – which took several weeks, most children were comfortable writing their name with lower case letters.

Of course the children added color to their pages, but the emphasis was really on having fun changing the rhyme, and working on writing their name neatly.  We also did a craft for many of the rhymes and put them up to decorate the room.  I liked doing this during December, especially if I was de-emphasizing the holidays, depending on the make up of my class.


Here is a link to download the blank pages of this book:

Nursery Rhyme book

See You Later, Alligator

Lots of children come to Kindergarten already able to hear words that sound alike, but there are some children who struggle with many aspects of phonemic awareness.  I use a puppet, because they are my favorite teaching tools, to reinforce rhyming and try to help all children become successful.  I named this guy Sam the Lamb,

And when he comes to the classroom to visit he brings his ‘rhyme chime,’ which is a little metal xylophone.  Every time Sam hears rhyming words he rings the chime.  When I am using Sam I try to use simple rhymes that are close together, and then reinforce the matching sounds with the chime. I found a trade book titled See You Later, Alligator that I read to the class – but you really could just read the book that I made as a followup.  The original book was not really a pattern – some pages said “see you with…,” other pages said “see you on…” and some said “see you at…”

In my remake I used the same sentence for each page “see you with …”   I also introduced the word ‘with’ as a sight word at that time.  The reason I loved this book was that the 2 rhyming words are right next to each other, which makes them very easy to hear.  “See you with a truck, duck.” After reading and using the rhyme chime several times, I sometimes allowed children to ring the chime for Sam the Lamb when they heard the rhyme.  The book I gave the children already had an animal on each page – we had read the rhymes several times.  I gave them a sheet with the rhyming objects – some they just had to draw.  But I liked this activity much more than a ditto matching rhyming objects because the product was a book they could read and reread.

Please click on this link for a blank copy of this book, and the rhyming objects.

See you later