Do you have a beginning reader in your house? Are they starting to read and need some extra practice with word families? If they have mastered their consonant sounds and short vowel sounds, then word family activities are a great way to work on reading proficiency.
In this post you will find some more info on what word families are and which word families are common to start with for kindergartners. But, and maybe most importantly, there are also lots of games, activities, and worksheets to help your child work on their sight word fluency!
What are Word Families?
If you have spend any time around beginning readers you have probably heard of word families. Word families are groups of words that have the same ending sound. Common kindergarten word families are -at, -am, -ad, ag, it, ig, -im, -eg, -op, -ug, -ab, -an, -ut, -id, -ip, and -in. I'm sure there are more, but these are some of the most common word families when kindergartners are just starting to read.
To create words, consonants are added to the beginning of the word. For example, m could be added to the -an word family to create the word man. With the exception of a few sight words, these CVC words make up the bulk of beginning words that children learn in kindergarten.
What is a CVC Word?
A CVC word is any word that follows the pattern consonant (C) vowel (V) consonant (C). Here are a few CVC word examples:
See how each word has a vowel between two consonants? These words are especially easy to sound out because they all have the short vowel sounds and no beginning or ending blends.
Common Word Families for Kindergarten
Word families are any group of words that have the same ending sound. For example, man, can, and fan are all in the "-an family." Word families are a great place to start for beginning readers because once they know how the ending goes, they can read lots of new words simply by changing the beginning letter sound. I love that look on my daughter's face when she realizes that she can read so many words!
Lists of CVC Words
Having a list of CVC or word family words can be helpful when you are doing activities with your child. Here is a small list of CVC words.
You can join my email list at the bottom of this post and get access to my Homeschooling Resource Library where I put all my freebies. I created a (much larger) printable CVC word list that you can grab in there!
Word Family Activities
Activities are always a hit with kids. If you have a child who "doesn't like school" or is frequently giving you some push back on doing their school work, chances are their learning style is not being met. Here are a few ways you can change up your learning time when it comes to teaching sight word and word families.
Musical Word Families
My girls love to dance and move to music, so we do lots of "musical chairs" type activities. You can read about our skip counting musical chairs activity in this other post. To practice sight words and word families I simply lay down several of her word family cards that she's been working on. Then, we start the music!
Whenever the music stops she has to stop dancing and pick up the closest card on the floor. If she says it correctly, she gets to add it to her pile. If she says it incorrectly I get to add it to my pile. (You can also just have them put it back down on the floor if they say it incorrectly.) The person with the most cards at the end is the winner!
I've done a few types of scavenger hunts around the house with my kindergartner and they are always a hit!
For this word family scavenger hunt I used these blank flashcards and wrote several words on them. I did maybe 15 or so. Then, I went and taped them around the house. I created a recording sheet with the number of words to find and she checked them off as she "earned" them. To earn them she had to 1) find it and 2) say it correctly. She loved running around the house looking for the little colored cards!
Kindergartners love to rhyme! Use my free printable word family cards in my Homeschooling Resource Library to do a rhyming sort activity. Take each card and have your child read it (or you can read it) and put it with other words that rhyme.
They will create a word family as they go, since all the words in each family rhyme. This is a great visual for young readers to see all the words together with the same endings. It really helps them to see why the words rhyme and that they have the same ending sounds.
Word Family Rollers
Here is something useful to do with all those empty toilet paper rolls! I cut a strip of construction paper long enough to wrap around the empty TP roll and glued it. You want it to be tight enough that it won't slip off, but loose enough that it easily spins.
Write a "family" on the roll just after the construction paper. Then, write a letter that would make a word when put with the family. For example, if you were doing the "-an" family, you could write m. Spin the paper just a bit until you have an empty space. Now write another beginning letter that creates a word in that word family. Continue until you have filled up the entire construction paper.
Now your child can practice their word families by spinning the construction paper around and saying the words he or she creates!
CVC Clip Cards
Clip cards are always a favorite activity it seems. Children love to choose the answer and clip that clothespin on! These CVC clip cards are great because children are given a picture and they have to clip both the beginning and ending sound.
Word Shape Boxes
Word shape boxes are a fun activity that makes children feel like they are cracking a code. Students figure out what word goes into which box based on the shapes (how high or how low the letters go) of the letters in each word. You can grab some free word shape box worksheets here, along with other great CVC activity sheets.
Word Family Games
Games - a magical tool when it comes to learning! It is so effective and well-loved that there is even a term for it - gameschooling. Yep, you can teach a majority of your subjects (especially in elementary school) through games! Here are some games that are great for teaching CVC words and sight words.
Go Fish! is a classic favorite among young children. This version uses the first 100 Fry Words. Children can practice their new words in a fun game format. You can start with a small set of words and add more as your child learns new words.
Grab your (clean) fly swatter! My daughter loves to play this game. Lay out several word cards on the floor in a random pattern. Call out a word. Your child uses the fly swatter to swat the correct word card.
We also play a version where my daughter gets to swat any word she chooses and then she has to read it to keep it. If you have children on similar ability levels this can be a friendly competition game, too. You call out a word and see who swats the word first!
My Pre-K daughter also likes to play this game with her number cards. I call out the number and she swats it.
Rhyming Memory Match
This is another CVC word activity you can play with the free word family cards in my Homeschooling Resource Library. Simply print two copies of the cards, turn them face down, and take turns finding cards that rhyme! It's a fun twist on regular memory match.
Word Family Spinner Game
Kids love games. They don't have to be fancy, just fun. This board game from Deceptively Educational really pushes children's knowledge of word families. Children spin the spinner and move to the next word family square that makes a real word with the letter they rolled.
Dab 'n Dot Four in a Row
A little friendly competition can go a long way to motivating young students. These dab 'n dot short e activity sheets are great to play with a partner. The Measured Mom also has several other short vowel versions here. We love these dot markers in our house.
I saw this idea on Facebook, I think, so I can't take credit for it. But, now I can't find the video. Basically, you take word cards, like my free printable word family cards, and stick them on your wall. Then, as you call out a word, your child gets to blast it with a Nerf gun! I mean, c'mon, the adults might need to play this game sometimes!
Memory Match Picture & Word
A twist on memory match is to find the word and the picture that matches. Story Time Standouts has several sets of free word family cards that have a picture to accompany each word. They would be perfect for this activity!
Word Family Worksheets
Worksheets. Some kids love them. Others...not so much. I try to find worksheets that are more "activity sheets" than just boring old "write this, write that" type of worksheets. Here are some ideas for worksheets you could incorporate into your word family lessons.
Word Family Mazes
Mazes are always a hit with the kindergarten crowd. They were even a hit with my high school students when I taught public school. These mazes from Beth at Kindergarten Worksheets and Games are great for early sight word learners.
Dab 'n Dot
Work on mastering sight words with these Dab 'n Dot sight word activity sheets from Kindergarten Mom. Dot markers are always a novelty and increase the fun factor! Use dot markers to mark all the circles with the sight word featured in the center.
Color Word Family Worksheet
When I was a kid, it seemed like the only "color by" sheets were color by number. Nowadays there are infinitely more versions of color by code worksheets. These color by sight word pages from Malia at Playdough to Plato are great, and free!
Cut & Paste Word Family Worksheets
These cut and paste worksheets for short a words are a great way to work on cutting skills at the same time! Children cut and paste the word to match the pictures above. I don't know any kindergartner that doesn't a love a good cut 'n paste!
Word Family Find and Write Worksheets
Liz has really packed a lot of work into these worksheets. There is so much to do - find words from the word family, color the word family ending, write the words for pictures, trace the sight words, circle the beginning sounds, and write the words. These are great worksheets, but keep an eye out for tiring mental stamina. You may want to do these worksheets in chunks.
Word Family Posters
I'm a big believer in keeping bright visuals out when children are working on a new skill. I made long vowel team posters for my oldest and she refers to them often on our learning wall.
These bright word family posters are great to hang up. Your children can scan and read them whenever they want. The more young children see words, the more quickly they learn them, so hang these up and refer to them often!
There are 12 word families included: -at, - in, -it, -an, -id, -ip, -ap, -ug, -ad, -ig, -ut, and -ag. Here is a peek of what the posters look like.
There are a lot of posters, so you may want to put a few up at a time and switch them out as your kindergartner becomes familiar with the words. There is full sheet versions and half-sheet versions. I personally use the half-sheet versions just to save wall space. You can grab these free posters by signing up at the bottom of this post!
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