"Word families are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern - they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound."(definition from www.enchantedlearning.com)
Word families or "chunks" as I like to refer them as, are an essential part in teaching kids to read. The basic idea is that when kids are decoding the words as they come to them, instead of sounding each letter out, they look for chunks that they know, and therefore it makes reading more smooth and easier.
Here is a sample of some common word families: ack, ain, ake, ale, all, ame, an, ank, ap, ash, at, ate, aw ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ick, ide, ight, ill, in, ine, ing, ink, ip, it, ock, oke, op, ore, ot, uck ,ug, ump, unk.
MATERIALS I LIKE TO USE:
1. A book with the chunk in it many times. Rhyming books and nursery rhyme books work great.
Here is a site where you can print off your own word family book.
2. Letters to make words with using the chunk. They could be magnetic letters or letters typed and cut out, or blocks that have letters on them. Whatever you can find.
3. Something to record your chunk words on. I have a chunk book where we record all the words we make with the chunk.
HOW TO TEACH IT:
1. Show the students the chunk. Let's use the -an chunk since that is what I did with Mia today. I tell her, "This is the chunk -an, it is also a word "an" (some chunks are words and you can tell them that so they can make the distinction).
2. Next, see how many words you can make using the chunk -an.
3. Then write the word on your record sheet.
4. Have someone put it in a sentence.
5. Repeat until you have made up as many words as you can. You can decide if you want to put nonsense words (ex. if your child says, "lan" for the chunk -an) on your record sheet.
6. After I have a list, we read the list together.
7. Last, we read the book with the chunk in it. Today I read the book with Mia and had her clap each time we came to a word with the -an chunk in it. You could have the students stand up or do something each time you come across one of the words. You could use a magnifying glass to find all of the words with the chunk in it.
Here are some printable worksheets that reinforce the concept.
You can also purchase books that have activities in them.
I got this out of one of the books that I purchased and laminated it. The kids use vis a vis marker to write the words and then I can clear the sheet with a wet paper towel and use it again.
You can also find games and activities to make.
You can purchase items like this from places like "Learning Resources", or use the idea and make your own. I've made my own using a wooden block. I have also used the dice from Scategories.
When you are beginning with chunks, my suggestion to you is to start with short vowel ones that are two lettered. For example, the first chunk I like to introduce is -at and then -an and so on.
Have fun with CHUNKS!