Why Word Families?... Part Two

If you read my blog post last week, Why Word Families?... Part One, then you've learned that I'm pretty passionate about teaching word families as a foundation for first grade. It may not seem like it now, but later in the year you will be praising your good choices to start early.

The sad truth is, word families are often overlooked and the end result is gaps in student reading fluency. They may seem too easy for the majority of your class now, but trust me, practice will make perfect. The skills that students will learn in "chunking" and rhyming word families, will translate into other phonics skills later in the year. It will also help increase student confidence, which I think we can all agree is a HUGE part of reading fluency AND comprehension!

Here's the schedule we have been following:

Last week's post discussed Phonetic Poems, Word Lists and Word Study. Today I want to extend a little bit on Writing and Stations.

Writing with Word Families

By this point in the day, students have already practiced reading, generating and building word families. One thing I have really noticed in my previous classes is that those skills sometimes do not translate into student writing. For that reason, I created my Writing with Word Families resource.

Students must:

  • read the word family word
  • trace the word family word
  • write a sentence using the word family word
  • illustrate the sentence

My students receive the "booklet" on Monday. I let them work through the sentences at their own pace. My only requirement is that every word MUST have a GOOD sentence for every word by Friday. (If they rush through and do not meet my standards, they are asked to re-write the sentence.) 

One reason this has really worked in my class so far is that students are in charge of and responsible for their own writing. If a student gets "blocked" and can't think of a good sentence, I tell them to illustrate it first, then describe their illustration with a sentence. 

A second great benefit I have found is that I can read through the booklets at the end of the week and make a quick list of writing mini-lessons that I want to cover the next week. We started as generic as "what to do when your sentence is too long and needs to go to the second line". We have also covered "sounding out" our words using Leach Literacy Training's Writer's Gum. Seriously guys, if you have not heard of Writer's Gum, you need to read it {here}, right now!!  


Word Family Stations. The easiest part of the word family framework. Just click, print, laminate and you are good to go. Here are a few ways that I've used them:

  • Early Finisher Station
  • Friday "Game Day" Station
  • Small Group Instruction
  • RTI/Tutoring Groups

Want to beef it up a little? Have students: 
  • sort them into the different families (an, at, ag)
  • write a sentence using one word
  • write a story using as many of the words as possible
  • turn all letter cards over and play a memory game to make the different words

Want these resources? Get them on sale <<<HERE>>>

Want to win these resources for FREE?
I would love to hear what you think! I would also love to hear more ideas on how and why to teach word families! Let me know in the comments section below! I will be picking one person to win these resources on Monday night at 9:00pm central.


  1. I also teach first grade and word families are the first thing we focus on. I would love to have your resources!

    1. Thank you so much Angeli! What is your e-mail address?

  2. Fantastic blog post series! I've always loved teaching word families, and you've provided some really great ideas for spicing up my routines. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much Brooke! What is your e-mail address?


Back to Top