One of my favorite things to do as a mom is teach my kids to read. We start by reading tons of books together, continue by learning letters and sounds, and then move to more directed learning when they show the interest and readiness. I’m not a big worksheet gal, so I love to find hands-on ways to practice. Since my 4 1/2 year old son is not a worksheet guy, what I’m sharing today works really well for him.
I’m excited to share something I’ve been working on for some time — 8 short a word family mats! I call them “Read ‘n Stick” because my kiddo reads the word cards and sticks them to the pictures using velcro dots.
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What are word families?
Word families are groups of words that share the same ending. For example, the words cat, fat, and mat all belong to the “-at” word family.
Why teach reading with word families?
1) The English language is complicated. A bit daunting for someone just learning, wouldn’t you say? Word families help beginning readers find predictable patterns within words.
2) Knowing word families makes sounding out words easier because instead of laboriously sounding out each letter, the reader reads the first sound and attaches it to the familiar word family name. When reading the word cat, for instance:
Instead of reading /k/ /a/ /t/, the child learns to read /k/ /at/.
Word Family Mats
Why use Read ‘n Stick Mats?
1) They’re hands-on. My son enjoys reading the words and sticking them to the pictures. Flash cards? Not so much.
2) The visual aid of the pictures gives an extra clue for beginning readers. It makes the reading task more manageable.
3) They’re vocabulary builders. I’d love to make all eight words familiar ones – like crab and cab. But there aren’t enough of them! The bonus if that your child’s vocabulary expands when you teach him words like slab and gab.
Who should use these mats?
1) These are intended for emergent (just beginning readers) who show these reading readiness signs:
a) They easily know all their letters and sounds.
b) They are beginning to show the ability to blend sounds together.
c) They have an interest in words and reading.
2) They are for kids who struggle with the task of sounding out short words and need some word family practice.
How do you use them?
1) Print and laminate each mat on sturdy cardstock. I love this affordable home laminator and laminating sheets! Then print and laminate each set of cards. Cut them apart and stick velcro dots to the pictures and backs of the cards.
2) You can certainly print the mats and cards on plain paper, and have your child match them. However, for a more durable and lasting activity, I recommend #1. A bonus of the velcro dots is that you can store the mats without the cards getting lost — just stick them on!
3) My mats were constantly getting misplaced until I punched holes in them and stored them in a 3-ring binder.
4) Take off all the cards. Have your child read the name of the family in the center of the board. Then have him read each card and match it to the picture. You will be teaching new vocabulary along the way when he gets stuck on a particular word (“What’s a stag?”).
5) After a few times of doing this with you, this is something your child might be able to do himself. You can pull out the binder for a reading warm-up before trying some early reading books — or if you’re not there yet, do a few Read ‘ Stick mats after you read books together. You could even put the binder in a bag and bring it along to the waiting room.
Here are a couple of the mats in the collection:
Get all my Read ‘n Stick Mats
Get ALL the mats in two easy downloads – color coded and with updated pictures!
We highly recommend this reading curriculum for learning short vowel words – it’s fantastic!
P.S. Want to know more about teaching kids to read?
I created a free email series just for you!
- What kids need to know before they learn to sound out words
- How to use word families to teach kids to read
- Do’s and don’ts for teaching kids to “sound it out”
- Our favorite games, printables, and books for early literacy
- What to try when kids just aren’t getting it
Just click here or on the image below to sign up!
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