Activities for Teaching Word Families

Phonics is a big deal in first grade. We spend at least one part of each day diving into phonics and beginning reading skills. One of the things we tend to spend a lot of time on is learning word families for CVC, CVCC, and CCVCC words. Learning these words always helps my students to improve in overall reading development. If you're looking for fun activities to help teach word families, you're in luck! Come along as we chat about how I teach word families in my classroom. 

These fun and engaging activities for teaching word families will help your first grade students practice and master important beginning reading skills this year.

Why Should We Teach Word Families?

Word families are a highly valuable tool for new readers. Word families will help your students quickly identify similar sounds, expand their vocabulary, and spot patterns in spelling. Word families will ultimately help children gain fluency in reading and develop self-confidence in their reading abilities. 

I love teaching word families with my first graders because of these benefits.  But more importantly, the students love learning word families too! Children are quick to spot the similarities in spelling patterns and eager to seek out other words in the family!  It almost becomes a game to see how many words they identify in each word family. You can make learning word families fun for your students with the help of a few, fun teaching methods!

Word Family Sorting Games

One of my favorite activities for first introducing a new word family in my small group is a word-building game. I lay out a variety of letter cards along with our word family cards.  Students work together to start building words.  This exercise gives them multiple opportunities to work with the word family sound and experiment with making new words.  As they find words, we begin making a list.  The students really love this activity and it is the perfect way to introduce a new word family. 

Turn learning word families into a game with sorting activities like these. It's as easy as printing out and laminating the cards and asking students to match the beginning and ending sounds to form words.

Sometimes students can think of words they already know in the word family.  When this happens they go searching for the matching beginning sound.  Other times, they practice blending sounds to see if they have made a word.  

We extend this activity by writing the word families down in our journals. Having this list of different word families serves as a great reference for my kiddos in other writing activities. 

Write The Room for Learning Word Families

All of my students LOVE write the room. And who can blame them? The addition of a clipboard and the ability to travel around the classroom makes practicing just about anything much more fun! Students need to get up and move from time to time and a write the room activity is a great way to do just that. 

Word Family Write the Room activities are a great way to help students work with words.

I like to use write the room for all kinds of subjects in my classroom and learning word families is no different. We use a write-the-room activity that is geared towards learning word families for CVC words. Students walk around the room with their recording sheets and write down their answers for each task card. I use a few different styles of recording sheets for differentiation. This also comes in handy to challenge students as they progress in their knowledge of word families. 

Word Family Building 

Learning word families is made much easier when students are offered many opportunities to practice building words. We do this in a few ways, but often start out in small groups. I like to use flashcards that have beginning and ending sounds and have students work together to build real words. This is a great activity as your class moves on to CVCC words, which always seem to take just a bit more practice.  Some of the other things we do with these flashcards include:
  • Pass out an equal number of beginning and ending sound cards to your students. Have kiddos travel the room to find a friend with a matching beginning sound for each ending sound to create a real word. 
  • Play memory by having student flip over 1 beginning sound and 1 ending sound to try and make a match. They keep their cards if they produce a real word. 
  • Have students build their words a second time using magnetic letters, play dough, or letter tiles.

Word family building is fun and hands-on with activities like playdough that also give students the opportunity to practice their fine motor skills.

Word Family Puzzles and Games 

Center time is a must in first grade! I'm a big fan of using games during center time since it's a surefire way to instantly snag your first graders' attention. When it comes to word families, the options for games are nearly endless! A few of the games we love for learning word families include:

  • Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Word Family Wheels
  • Spinner Games
  • Dice Games
  • Puzzles
  • BUMP
  • Board Games 
  • Sorting Games
  • Zap (or Clap)

Use activities for teaching word families like this bubblegum game as part of your center activities.

I've found that variety is the best way to keep those brains working and engaged! Because of this, we'll often rotate between these games over the course of a couple weeks for each set of word families and vowels. Usually, I'll introduce these games for the first time in small groups and then send my students off to play independently in centers. This method really helps to make sure they actually know the rules and can manage each game on their own. 

No Prep Printables for Word Families

Finally, don't forget to sneak in some easy practice with no-prep, printable worksheets. I love hands-on games and center activities, but I also love to lean on paper activities for follow-up, review, and homework.  These paper-based activities give me a chance to quickly see how each student is progressing with word families. 

No-prep printable worksheets like these are always a great go-to when you want to give your students the opportunity for some independent practice with word families.

I sprinkle worksheets throughout our days for practicing all that my students have learned about word families. We use them in class a few times and then I'll typically send the same pages out as homework a few weeks later as a quick review.

Freebie for Teaching Word Families 

Are you ready to try some new methods for teaching word families in your classroom? This subject is a lot of fun for first graders and one of my favorites to teach! If you'd like to try incorporating some of these activities into your own routine, be sure to grab my FREE Short Vowels Clip Cards! This set of cards covers short vowels and features CVCC and CCVCC words. These are perfect for centers, small groups, or independent practice! 

Grab this FREEBIE clip card activity to help your students start learning their word families today!

If you'd like to add even more fun and engaging activities for teaching word families to your lessons, be sure to check out all the resources mentioned here in my TpT Shop. You'll find a variety of hands-on games, no-prep worksheets, small group activities, and write-the-room activities your students will love! 

Find a variety of word family activities, games and resources in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Using a wide variety of fun lessons is the perfect way to keep those kids engaged and master word families!

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These activities for teaching word families are perfect for your first grade classroom this year. Help your students learn, practice, and master beginning and ending sounds with games, worksheets, center activities and more. Your students will love completing all of these activities and will be begging for more. #teachingwordfamilies #wordfamilies #wordfamilyactivities #wordfamiliesinfirstgrade

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