Inside: Learn how to make and use this brilliant sunflower word family activity!
Let’s talk about word families first
Word Families are group of words that have same ending group of letters and thus have the same ending sound. For example, big, pig, rig, wig are part of the “ig” word family and can, ban, ran, tan are part of the “an” word family.
Word families play an important role in helping kids learn to read.
Words in the same word family have similar patterns. By first recognizing these patterns and learning their sounds, beginning readers can use this predictable structure to sound out any new words in the same word family.
I am totally speaking from my experience of teaching my kindergartener.
I won’t forget the day when my 5yo learnt his first word family ‘at’ and later realized he can easily sound out every new word from the “at” word family on his own.
That was a HUGE confidence booster for him.
Presenting the Sunflower Word Family Activity
To introduce new word families to my son, I made this cute Word Family Sunflower. We have been using this sunflower every other day to practice sounding out CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words from the same word families.
Making words and then taking them apart, moving letters, laughing over made up words (think: cag? zet? vog?)… all of this makes the learning more physical, and therefore, more memorable for your kids. This is an activity that really brings learning to life and makes learning word families easy and enjoyable for everyone.
Note: An important prerequisite to using this word family sunflower is that the child must be familiar with all the consonants and short vowels sounds.
3 ways to use this Sunflower Word Family Activity
- Choose a word family together, say “an” and turn the inner paper plate with the 26 alphabets to form 26 CVC words. Invite your child to sound out all 26 words, regardless of whether the words are valid or not. My son loved this one and we usually ended up laughing over all the silly invalid words we made.
- Call out words from the same word family one at a time. Ask your child to turn the inner paper plate until he/she forms the word that is called out. Other than helping with reading, this activity also builds the foundation for spelling these simple CVC words
- Once your child is familiar with all the word families on the sunflower, try this third activity: call out any random words and ask your child to search for the right combination of beginning sound and word family to form the word.
Related: Our Bottle Cap Word Family Puzzle is also a great hands-on activity to introduce word families. Watch how to make and learn with the puzzle here.
How to make this Word Family Sunflower
- Write the 26 alphabets all around the edge of one of the paper plate.
- Attach a popsicle stick on the second paper plate.
- Cut out 16 small petals and write a word family on each petal. Attach them all around the second paper plate. These are the 16 two letters word families I included in this sunflower: ad, ag, an, ap, at, eg, en, et, ig, in ,it, og, ot, ug, un, ut. All of these word families use the a short vowel with a consonant.
- Put the first paper plate on the second one. Poke a hole in the center with a pair of sharp tip scissors. Attach the two paper plate together using a brad pin.
Your learning toy is all ready!
Related: More creative DIY learning toy ideas here!
What’s next for your beginning reader?
Once your children master their word families, they are ready to move one to blends and digraphs. Make another Word Family Sunflower with blends and digraphs, instead of the 26 alphabets. Or include 3 letters word families like ack, all, ish and so on. The Measured Mom has written an useful post with a long list of word families and words.
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