Word Family Sort

Now that my oldest has started back to school, we haven’t done as many activities together during the week.

I wanted to give her time to get used to being in full-day school, plus I wanted to try and get a handle on what she was learning and what she needed extra help with.

One thing they hit pretty hard in 1st grade is reading. While she is doing quite well, she does lack confidence in her abilities. So, I’m going to try to help her gain more confidence in reading.

One way is just to practice. Her teacher recommends 20 minutes of reading a night. We do that and more.

Another way I plan on helping her gain that confidence is through reviews of some of the different components, such as phonics, word families, and sight words.

We recently worked with this simple Word Family Sort game to help review some of the word families.

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My first grader and her class have been reviewing the short “a” and long “a” vowel sounds, so I set up our game using a few short “a” word families; -ad, -an, and -at.
(I found a comprehensive list of word families at Enchanted Learning. I plan to reference this again and again.)
I drew three large circles on a sheet of construction paper and wrote a separate word family at the top of each. I then used my circle punch to create many smaller circles. Using the lists at Enchanted Learning, I wrote about 10 examples for each word family on the circles.
My daughter and I reviewed the three word families.
She then took a mixed-up pile of the words and picked one at a time. Her task was simple. She needed to say the word out loud and place it in the correct circle.
The task was not too difficult for her, but since my goal was to increase her comfort level with the short “a” sound, it worked perfectly.


You can make many variations on this game. If you plan on using it over and over, laminate the game board before you write your word families in the circle. Once laminated, you can write and erase many word families as you go along.
More variations:
  • Have your child write the words in the circles for an additional level of review.
  • Use beginning sounds instead of word families for a child that needs a different level of review
  • Make it more challenging by leaving the word families off the game board. Have your child sort the words then determine their word family.
How would you use this word family sort game? 

Help your child practice word families with this easy-to-make word family sort game.


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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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