Word Families and Guided Reading

Why teach word families?
Word families are groups of words that have a predictable pattern or chunk. These words have the same ending and they all rhyme which makes learning a new set of words easier on our beginning readers. Word families are an effective way to increase a student's ability to spell and decode many new words. 

Word families for struggling readers:
Learning to read can be a struggle! Each child is different and EVERY child has their own path to reading. Over the years I have seen a wide range of learners in my kindergarten classroom. Some come to me with a great background and cruise through the curriculum with no worries. Many come to me with out the foundational skills needed to be successful at first but by Christmas most are finding their way. A few need additional supports and are still learning sounds at spring break. Using word families can help these struggling readers feel success and gives them letter sound practice at the same time.

Guided reading routines: 
I have discussed effective grouping for guided reading on the blog before so I won't go into that today but if you want to read more about that you can click HERE. Once you determine your groups it is essential to come up with a strong routine. Routines are the best in kindergarten because everything else can fall apart but your routine is there to save the day! My routine for my lowest groups (those still working on word families) consists of these basic components: 

Letter Name/Sound Recognition: 
At the beginning of each lesson we review the letter sounds and their names. This is a quick review and is essential to retaining those names/sounds. It is easy to want to skip this first step if you are running behind but don't! 

Word Work: 
Using letter tiles (or magnetic letters) students need to build the words and practice the sounds individually before diving into a new word family. Using individual letters encourages blending and really serves as a great formative assessment to see who needs more help in this area. 

Create a word list: 
As you work with a word family make a list of all of the words in that family. This is a fun time to work with real vs. make-believe words too. Without fail a student will try to add "dat" or "gat" to the -at word family list. Great time to talk about real words and pull together a list of words. 

 Read, read, read! 
Read those word families in context. I have plenty of word family books in my library but I wanted some that my students could read, color, and take home (for some these are the only thing they have to read at home!). They love it when I give them a little time to color at the end of our guided reading group and sometimes if we have a few minutes before lunch this is a great 5 minute time filler too.

Here are the supplies you need to start a great word family guided reading routine in Kindergarten: 

  • magnetic letters
  • alphabet chart
  • flash cards
  • anchor chart (for word lists)
  • Word Family books 
I have a ton of BOB Books in my classroom and they are full of word families. My kiddos love checking these out for read to self in the classroom. Here is a link  to one of my favorite sets. This is an affiliate link for your convenience. 

For some consumable sight word readers you can see some examples of these in my store HERE. This bundle is at a VERY discounted rate until I finish the whole series so it is a great time to snatch these up. 

And of course word families are awesome in centers! Click HERE for word family centers and for a fun little BUILD A WORD FREEBIE you can click HERE. Enjoy! 

Thanks for stopping in today!