Phonics Printable Worksheets and Activities
There are differences in opinion about whether using phonics is useful in teaching children to read. My personal opinion is that everyone learns differently -- try a variety of things with your kids until you find what works for them. My oldest daughter just sort of magically read books -- natural ability and lots of family reading time were the causes I think -- she didn't often sound out words or enjoy playing word games. My younger daughter was very keen on phonics lessons and constantly asked to play rhyming word games and activities. Word families really appealed to her and to this day (grade 6) she enjoys word based "puzzles" like word searches and crosswords (my eldest daughter would rather play soccer *grin*). My advice: good luck, don't get frustrated and try to have fun learning with your kids -- just when you think you have it all figured out, the next one will be completely different. If you decide word families (also known as analogy phonics) might be something you'd like to try, read on!
When approaching word families, I like to learn them in sets that have some commonality (for example, short a sounds or long e sounds). I find it easier for kids to make up their own rhymes, sentences and such when they have two or three word families to use together. Having said that, I do sometimes do a single word family when I find the kids are struggling with something in particular -- the first time we did long vowels instead of short vowels for example.
I also try to keep word families that are too similar in different groups (example, I wouldn't do the "long a" /air/ and /are/ word families together). With my girls I found that they got too confused when words sounded the same, but were spelled differently (like 'hare' and 'hair'). I saved that type of learning for grade 4 and 5 when we started talking about synonyms, antonyms and homonyms.
Anyways, here are the Word Family sets as I would recommend combining them.