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Word Families: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Word Families
  • 0:31 Common Word Families
  • 1:17 Books & Nursery Rhymes
  • 2:10 Activities
  • 2:33 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we'll discuss the definition of word families, take a look at some examples, and discover some great resources for teaching students about word families.

Word Families

'Hey, diddle, diddle - The cat and the fiddle,…' is a phrase from a well-known nursery rhyme that uses word families to teach students how to read and spell. Since 'diddle' and 'fiddle' come from the same word family, students can easily learn both words simultaneously. Word families are words that share spelling and sound patterns. Teaching students word patterns helps with decoding and spelling. Let's examine some examples of word families, as well as strategies for teaching students about word families.

Common Word Families

Words such as 'cat,' 'bat,' 'rat,' 'mat,' 'sat,' and 'that' are examples of words that are in the '-at' family. This chart outlines the most common word families. Students can learn to read and spell more than a thousand words using these word families.

a e i o u
-ack -eat -ice -ock -uck
-ain -ell -ick -oke -ug
-ake -est -ide -op -ump
-ale -ight -ore -unk
-all -ill - ot
-ame -in
-an -ine
-ank -ing
-ap -ink
-ash -ip
-at -it
-ate
-aw
-ay

Books & Nursery Rhymes

Books and nursery rhymes that make repetitive use of word families are an effective way to introduce this concept. The renowned Dr. Seuss has written several books that help students learn new word families. For example, Hop On Pop, The Cat in the Hat, and There's a Wocket in My Pocket! are popular books that provide an introduction to word families.

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