Reading isn’t the only way you can work on reading skills (although please do read as much and as often as you can!) you can also play games to build skills and confidence. This word family game is designed to work on word family knowledge.
Word families are groups of words that share a common combination of letters and similar sound. When new readers play with word families they become more confident as they see the common ending and can quickly read the new word. This game was great as my son read words without surrounding context successfully because of the other words in the family acting as a scaffold.
Playing the Word Family Game
- Gather your materials. You will need some magazines or family photos you can cut up, construction paper, double stick tape, painter’s tape, scissors and a marker.
- Start by making your frames. Simply fold the construction paper in half and cut the middle out.
- Next cut moms, dads, babies and kids out. Tape them to construction paper making sure you leave room at the bottom to write the words under the people.
- Cut out and write the words. The best list of word families I have ever found was here. I tried to do some words I knew he’d find “easy” and others that would be more of a challenge, his reading ability is changing so quickly I was honestly unsure of exactly what would be the sweet spot for his learning. Do not be afraid to try something, you can change it as you go if need be.
- I taped the frames to the table using painter’s tape. Then I wrote out the family name but when we do this again I will be leaving these off and instead placing one word/family member in the frame to start. These titles really confused my son. After he matched up to a person in the family he was golden. I’d suggest skipping the names and just taping the frames.
- He was unsure at first.
- But he did it! The confidence grew quickly.
- Soon he was being his old goofy self, saying “Here is your Mama baby!”
- The ail family was the tricky one for him and when he completed the family he exclaimed “I did it!” which is music to any parent or teacher’s ears.
To make this simpler try having 2-3 family members already in the frames and only fill in the blank with a missing family member instead of having to create the whole family.
To make it more challenging provide the frames and family members with no family names ( an, ack, ail…) at the start. Let your child sort and group with no starting point.
Books About Families
Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas: Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne is a wonderful book about grandparents who are raising their granddaughter. There is no long drawn out explanation about where her parents are. Or what led to her grandparents having custody and I don’t think there needs to be. They are her parents, love her, snuggle her, read with her and love her just like any parents. She does wonder about her parents and shows signs of feeling different. But the security and love her grandparents provide overcome those insecurities. The author’s note at the back of the book explains that she herself is raising her grandchild and offers more resources for grandparents who are primary caregivers as well.
Daddy and I… by Eloise Greenfield is a great little board book about the everyday things that a toddler son may help his dad with. From painting to shopping to stopping for some hugs. This book is great for toddlers to see all the things that make up being a dad and caring for your family. It also has a great lesson about children pitching in to help keep a family going too.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee. The concept is simple but the results are wonderful. The book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do. My daughter (who is 14 months) points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text. So maybe you are thinking “What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes”? Nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of its diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families. The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love.
What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife. I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just an older mom. This is why I love this book. My 14-month-old doesn’t see why this message is outstanding. What she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.
For more quick tips on helping your child learn to read check out my book; Raising A Rock-Star Reader. It is packed with fun ideas for families, book lists, and advice for parents. You can also follow me on Facebook for other word games to play with your pre-schooler.