Word Families


There are certain sounds in English alphabets which go together called Word Families. They are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern – they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. For example, ‘an’ is a word family, wherein sounds /a/ and /n/ go together. The examples of ‘an’ word family is ban, can, fan, man, pan, van etc.

Word family is a simple method of teaching young learners to read and write. The basic skill used in word families is blending.

How to Start?

The teacher has to orally explain to the students what word families are. A few videos mentioned in the videos section of this blog post will be of aid. Although, not all the word families can be explained in this fashion. The teacher can write the words families on the blackboard to elaborate examples.

Strategies that can be used:

Activity 1

The teacher can make an elaborated chart of the word families and their examples. It is preferred that an image should be added. This will let the learner grasp the words quickly and remember them. As visual memory is very strong among young learners, the teacher can also make use of colored charts. Different colors make learning appealing. Here are a few examples or models of charts that can be used.

image03 (1)
Image Courtesy: https://in.pinterest.com/explore/word-families/?lp=true
Image Courtesy: http://cdn.tristro.net/catalog/879/full/tcr7715.jpg

Although, remember that the teaching of word families is not a random choice. As mentioned in the previous blog, we are following the Katelyn’s Phonic Progression. We are using this because it is a very convenient and an easy way for learners to study word families.

Activity 2

This is a simple activity that can be given to learners once they are introduced to word families. The task-based activity is to write the words having a particular word family in it. For example, in the first flower, ‘at’ is the given word family. The learner has to fill in the petals of the flower with words like ‘cat’, ‘sat’ ‘mat’ and so on. Make such activities for all the word families and let the learners solve them.

Instead of writing every word, the teacher can also get print outs of words that are in petal shape and the students can place the appropriate petals on the flowers. This will automatically turn the activity into a re-useable sheet and can be a cost-effective activity.

Image Courtesy: http://www.themeasuredmom.com/free-word-family-file-folder-game-short-a/


An easy game of fill in the blanks can be played with learners for a better understanding of word families. Why not add a little twist to the fill in the blanks and make them in colored worksheet form? Below mentioned are two examples of how this game can look.

The worksheet will have a specific word family and the first letter is missing. We are using CVC words initially in order to start with a simpler form. The learners will have to recognize the object and tell its name. The first example is  ‘tub’ where the missing word is ‘t’. The learner can fill in the blank box by placing the ‘t’ card in it.

Image Courtesy: http://blog.maketaketeach.com/cookie-sheet-activities-volume-6-word-families/

The second example is very alike the first game. This can be played after the learners have had more practice with word families. The initial words and the pictures and mentioned, while the learner has to guess the word family to which the name of the object belongs.

Image Courtesy: http://blog.maketaketeach.com/cookie-sheet-activities-volume-6-word-families/

Home-made games

This easy to make chart game can be very useful for word families. The learners can use and reuse this chart. The chart has been divided into boxes and each box has been allotted a specific word family.


The teacher can give away several cutouts of pictures and speared them on the floor. The learners have to pick one picture at a time and recognize its name. He/she has to loudly utter the word and place it in the appropriate box. Make sure the learners are saying the words out loud and are correctly recognizing the word family.


An elaborated example has been mentioned for the word family ‘at’:

  1. The teacher can show the difference between sounds using words that differ in only one phonic sound. An activity has been described as follows using words like cat, mat, fat, rat, sat, bat as rhyming words are catchy and fun to learn. The sounds /a/ and /t/ are same in all the words. This will ensure the practice of the sounds /a/ and /t/ and different sounds like /c/, /m/, /f/, /r/, /s/, /b/. Once the teacher introduces these sounds through these words (cat, mat, fat, rat, sat, bat), by writing it on the board and uttering the sounds repeatedly, the video can be played. Remember that uttering of the sounds like /c/ /c/ cat, /m/ /m/ mat etc, is a very important tip as repetition is the key to identifying the sounds.

This link is to a descriptive video of identifying words that have only the initial sounds varying. The words used are cat, mat, fat, rat, sat, bat which was practiced by the teacher in the previous activity. Once the learners have heard the sounds from the teacher, he/she will be able to relate them to the audio visual clip. The last minute of the video has a practice activity for the learners.

2. This worksheet can be taken up in the class. Now that the learners have heard the teacher and watched the video and said the words aloud, they will be able to solve the simple worksheet. If the learner finds difficulties, the teacher must help the learner make corrections. While teaching phonics, patience and practice are essential for the teacher.

Following the same activity, the teacher can make small cut outs of colorful card paper with the shape of these sounds’ symbols. The teacher can call a student to the desk and say a word, for example, ‘cat’. The student has to arrange the cards/cutouts in the order of /c/ /a/ /t/ the student has to make the utterance of all the sounds loudly to the class and the class repeats. Make sure you encourage the student by appreciating it once the correct order of sounds is obtained. Also, guide the student by dropping hints if he/she is finding difficulty. At no point must the learner feel discouraged.



This video is by Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel where learners can have fun, sing, dance, roar and learn about rhyming words and word families with Rhymin’ Lion.

This video is specifically for ‘at’ word family by Miss Molly on youtube.

Another example for ‘at’ word family by GCeducation.

This link is to an audio-visual representation by LucyMax on youtube for ‘ab’ ‘ad’ ‘am’ word families.

This video is a practice for skills like blending along with word families. This video is uploaded by FirstStepReading.

References used:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s