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Differentiating Word Family Study

This marks my class’ sixth week of word family study, and I absolutely love the routines we have establish for participating in word family activities and the success my kinders are feeling in recognizing and reading these important words that will make reading so much easier in the coming months. They are recognizing chunks and referring to the word family wall regularly, and I can really see how confident they have become. Needless to say, we love word family work.

I’ve had quite a few readers ask me to give them an idea of how I use the activities and how I fit them into my week so I wanted to give you a quick run down of how and what I will be using this week to give you an idea.  This is just a snapshot of where and when you would see Word Family Word Work during my week.

My class has covered all of the short ‘a’ word families except for the ~AD family and that’s what we will be focusing on this week.  Of course, we are constantly reviewing the other families but ~AD is in the spotlight.  

Whole Group Literacy
I start the week by introducing the word family during our morning Whole Group Literacy time through a kinesthetic activity where we use placards to build the words.  I love whatever will keep them moving, and this fits the bill.

If by some chance you don’t have these placards yet, click on the picture above to see how to make them and get your copy for free.  

Of course some of the activities are used during my word work stations during Daily 5 (My Daily 6).  Below you will see my Monday-Tuesday scheduled Daily 5 plans for this week.

If you want to click on this schedule you can get a pdf version.  I will be using sorting cards in my sensory table during Word Work #2 

My students love working in a sensory table. I scored a TON of acorns for this weeks sensory fun.

Here they will sort ~ad words and words that are not ~ad words.  Sometimes I have students sort the words into buckets labeled with the different word families.  Sometimes I have them use clothes pins and pin the words onto different strings labeled with different word families, 

but this time I will have them sort them from the sensory table into a small pocket chart labeled with a thumbs up and thumbs down.  Kind of like the ones below.

As part of their choice work (things they can work on if they complete word work activities), they always have the option of doing Independent Self-Correcting Making Word Family Words Fun.  I like to mix this up and offer play-doh, magnets or beads to keep it interesting.  It’s so nice to have an independent activity that I can continually add new words to keep it challenging.
During the guided reading portion of Daily 5 on Monday and Tuesday, as part of the word work portion of my guided reading block, students will be sorting ~ad words by feeding Mr. Munchie Mouth.  This week he only eats ~AD words.
I am going to admit that this little guy hadn’t been used in a couple of years, but I pulled him out this year and my kinder friends LOVE LOVE LOVE feeding him.  It helps to introduce him with a little animation and work with them those first few times with great enthusiasm and a sense of fun.  Now they can almost run this portion of guided reading on their own when we are using him.
Whole Group Literacy
When we get together for whole group work on Tuesday, students will be doing thumbs up and thumbs down for ~AD family words.  I have these little thumbs up and thumbs down cards on craft sticks. 
I show them a picture and say the word and they give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down. This is a fun, quick activity that continues to get them familiar with the word family words and pictures before doing a bit more ‘heavy’ independent work.  

Daily 5 for Tuesday is the same as Monday (students only go to three stations each of the two days so that is why it is the same for two days). 

Morning Work 
When my students come in first thing in the morning, I like to have something fun but engaging for them to do while I complete my attendance and lunch choice.  On Wednesday, they will be doing an ~AD Family Color Count and Write.  It’s differentiated to keep them challenged if needed, but gives those students who still need a bit of help with writing the opportunity to trace letters.   Students count and color the pictures, and then they write the word as many times as they colored it above.

Whole Group Literacy
I don’t have a picture of this activity, but for this one, I play an I-Spy With My Little Eye . . . a word on the word family word wall game.  I say, “I spy a word . . .” and I give them hints to guess the word.  For instance, “I Spy a word that is part of the ~AD family.  It can be an emotion and tell us how someone feels . . .” Or something like that.  It gets more difficult the more word families are introduced.  But they love the challenge.
Daily 5 Rotations
During Wednesday and Thursday’s rotations, during Word Work 1 my students will get to complete a classroom favorite . . . I-Spy.  It’s a differentiated activity so some students will be searching for all the ~AD words and then use one in a sentence after the read the list of words they found to a friend while other students may simply be sorting and recording ~AD words and words that are not part of the ~AD family.  (What kid doesn’t love to use a magnifying glass?)

During Word Work 2 students will be writing the room to find ~AD words.  By now, the students have become very familiar with the ~AD word pictures.  These pictures are posted around the room where they search, clipboard in hand, and record the words they find. (Kind of like the example below.)

It is another differentiated activity.  Some of my students are ready to only add the beginning sound and there is a tier for them as well as a tier for students who are ready to write the complete word and another tier for students ready to complete the word and write and read it in a simple sentence.


As part of their Daily 5 Choice Work, students have the option of having some Scentos Bingo Dotter Word Family Fun by dotting all the ~AD words from one picture to the other.  (I LOVE these dotters!)

As part of my Guided Reading rotation for Wednesday and Thursday, we will be making and writing ~AD family words on paint samples like the one below.  My students like choosing their favorite color and, if you really want to engage them, hand them a Scentos Dry Erase Marker to use when they write their ~AD words.  (Yes, I’m addicted to those lovely things).

Morning Work 
On Thursday morning, students will be completing the ~AD word family slide.  There are two versions of this slide too.  One includes the pictures to help those students that still need that added prompt, and the other version includes only the letters on the slide.  I like this activity because my students need as much cutting practice as they can get, and they all LOVE the opportunity to just color!!!

Whole Group Literacy
On Thursday during whole group,  I have the students taking turns reading word family words as they search for the hidden ‘family member.’  I place different word family words in a pocket chart (I use a hanging one when I use this activity for whole group, but this is the table top one I use when I play this game during guided reading) and everyone gets a chance to guess where the ‘family member’ is hiding. 

The person who finds it gets to hide it the next time we play.

Daily 5 Activities are the same as Wednesday.  So they are the same as above.
Thursday is also the day that I send home homework for the weekend to be returned on Tuesday.  So this week, my students will Read Make and Write a differentiated ~AP word homework activity.
There are tons more activities and games that I can choose from to keep things fun and engaging, but this is just a little sample of what kinds of activities might be included in a typical week.  
If you’d like to find out more about the activities, included in these word work packets you can click on the picture below.  
I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas about how you teach word families to your students.


Marsha Moffit McGuire

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