Being able to understand the concept of word families and how words relate to one another is an important skill that preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students needs to develop as they begin to read. Presenting the concepts they need to know as a reading game makes it even better!
What is a Word Family?
Word families are groups of words based on the same pattern with similar sounds and spellings. For example, the "-at" word family features words like "cat", "bat", and "hat". The base of the word is the similarity between them.
Why Do Kids Need to Know Word Families?
When children are learning to read, being able to recognize and establish patterns between words helps them understand both how words sound and, possibly, word meanings. Not only does it make it easier to "sound words out" when you recognize a pattern, it creates connections between words and spelling. Knowing about word families and being able to recognize them makes reading easier.
Crazy Eggs Word Family Game
The Crazy Eggs Word Family Game features plastic eggs (we had some left over from Easter), a recycled egg carton, and some words taped to the inside of each egg. The idea is that the eggs start off as solid colors, but the words taped (or glued) to the inside are not part of the same word family.
The player rematches the eggs based not on color, but on word family. After a match has been made, she can place the completed in the egg carton in the spot that indicates that word family.
The game is self-checking, because under the word family card at the bottom of the egg carton spaces are the words that make up that word family. If the words inside the egg are the correct ones, they'll be written or printed on the card. If not, the player must take the egg apart and try again.
Why is This Reading Game Effective?
The Crazy Eggs Word Family Game works, because it puts children in control of their learning. It gives them a multi-sensory approach to learning about something that's, quite frankly, a little abstract.
They get the hands-on component of being able to manipulate the eggs and match them, the visual component of being able to see the words, and the auditory component by being able to say the words and make sure they hear the word pattern in them. It's a win-win-win!
Here's how you make it:
Crazy Eggs Word Families Game
- clean, empty egg carton
- 12 plastic eggs of different colors
- scissors and/or paper cutter
- fine line marker
- colorful paper
- Cut out 12 squares to fit at the bottom of the egg cups in the carton.
- Write one word family on each square. On the opposite side, write the words being used for that word family. Here are the words and word families that we used:
- -at: cat, hat
- -un: sun, fun
- -ar: car, tar
- -all: fall, ball
- -it: sit, hit
- -an: ran, can
- -ell: bell, tell
- -ip: ship, lip
- -art: cart, mart
- -in: fin, bin
- -ink: pink, sink
- -est: best, rest
- Write the words for each word family on a small piece of paper and tape or glue it them to one-half of an egg. Try to mix up the colors so that, when matched, the words in the word family don't make a solid color egg. (Think crazy egg color matches!)
- Write and tape the directions to the inside top of the egg carton.
- Make a label for the top of the egg carton with the name of the game and, if desired, the skill it teaches. I like using egg cartons for games a lot, so I always find it helpful to write the skill on the front.
- Put the game out for free choice time, language arts, or even for indoor recess! Your young reader will love playing and learning at the same time!