Years ago when my son was learning to read, he needed extra phonics practice. The phonics curriculum I used didn’t focus on words families, but I thought he would benefit from studying them. I created these If I Can Spell worksheets for him for added support and they really helped fill in some gaps.
If I Can Spell…Then I Can Spell
I always tell my kids, “Use what you know to help you figure out what you don’t know.” That’s the principle behind these worksheets. I wanted my son to use the phonetic knowledge he had to figure out unfamiliar words similar to words he did know. Word families are perfect for this!
There are three steps to the worksheets. First, students cut and paste the letters to the word family stem to make new words. They differentiate between real and nonsense words when they choose which letters to use to make the words. Next, students write the new words.
The last column gives the choice to either make or draw the words. My son always chose to illustrate them because he loves to draw. I like this option because if a student correctly illustrates the word, you know they understand the word’s meaning.
Here are some other ways students might make the words in the third column:
How to Use in a Classroom Setting
Whole Class or Small Group Instruction
In the beginning, I suggest using these worksheets during whole class or small group instruction to teach students how to complete them. I think it’s especially important to discuss word meanings together to make sure students understand the correct meaning of each new word.
As students become familiar with the worksheet, you might have them complete them independently or with a partner. These worksheets are an ideal literacy center activity.
Write and Wipe Activity
Glue a worksheet to each side of a piece of construction paper and laminate it so you can use the front and back.
Have students use a dry erase marker to complete the activity. Instead of cutting out the letters at the bottom of the page, students simply circle the letters they use and mark out the letters they don’t use. They finish the rest of the worksheet the same way. Now you can reuse them again and again!
Benefits of Word Families Practice
I think there’s several important benefits to studying word families as a part of phonics instruction.
Develop Spelling and Phonics Skills
Students learn how to use words they know to help them figure out words they don’t know that are spelled or sound similarly.
Word family words are easy for students to decode, yet students might not know their meanings. For example, if students know how to spell “cab”, then they can easily spell “gab”. But, do they know what “gab” means? These worksheets are great to introduce and discuss new vocabulary words and their meanings.
Learn Multiple Meanings of Words
Many words have multiple meanings. Knowing the many meanings of each word increases students’ vocabulary and helps them use the word correctly. It’s easy to point out words with multiple meanings when studying word families. For example, a “cap” is type of hat, but “cap” also means the lid of a bottle. Also, if students are illustrating the words, it’s helpful to discuss the different meanings so they know which one to choose to draw.
More If I Can Spell Worksheets
My son enjoyed the If I Can Spell CVC words worksheets so much that I decided to make more for other spelling patterns: CVCe, CVCC and vowel teams. I also grouped all of them together in one large bundle.
Try It Out!
Click on the link below for a free download of the “If I can spell jet” and “If I can spell fin” worksheets pictured in the post. There are two options for “fin”: one with beginning consonants and one with beginning blends and/or digraphs. Answer keys are included, too!