One of my favorite ways to help young readers learn to read is to use the patterns found in word families. What exactly is a word family? Word families are words that share the same ending chunk (rime), but have different beginning beginning parts (onsets). For example, words such as cat, bat, sat, fat, that, and mat are all a part of the -at word family.
The How Behind Word Families
There are several reasons reading and writing by word families are helpful.
For example, word families can help those younger readers who struggling with blending words together. Word families also help kids write new words by their shared patterns. Let’s say your child knows how to spell cat. But in his writing, he needs to spell bat and he’s not sure how. You can say, “How do you spell cat?” (Child spells C-A-T). Now you can help him relate it to a word he knows by saying, “Well, since bat and cat are in the same word family, all you have to do is take off the c on the front of the word and put a b there instead.”
Reading new words by word families works very much the same. When your child comes across an unknown word that is a part of a word family, relate it to a word he already knows that has the same pattern. It is absolutely amazing how many words can be read and spelled simply using the most common short and long vowel word families.
Christmas Tree Word Family Sorts
To integrate a little Christmas fun into your word sorts, download this FREE Christmas Tree Word Family Sorting activity. It features 10 short vowel patterns and 10 long vowel patterns.
Print out a Christmas Tree mat with a certain vowel pattern you’d like your child to work on (say, short o). Then print out the corresponding ornaments. Cut the ornaments apart, mix them up and ask your child to read each word and sort them on the correct tree (using the pattern on the star as your guide). You can choose from the patterns created or there is also a blank Christmas Tree and ornament template for you to write your own.
Want more winter themed word family activities? Check out the color by vowel winter pack.
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