Using Word Families to Aid in Decoding

I have a couple of groups of first graders who really struggle with reading words. They want to sounds everything out, like this:  M-A-T. This drives me crazy, and they lose so much time and use so much effort when they are reading.

I decided to help them out by focusing on chunks of words instead of one phoneme at a time.  It is beginning to sink in, but we have a long way to go!

I like to call it "chunking sounds".  They love the idea, and some of them are beginning to embrace it, but they still struggle with it when we are not together in our small groups.

Anyway, we started with the short a word families, which we just finished this past week.  The one activity we did every week was so simple.  We sorted word families and matched them to pictures.  {I forgot to take pictures of this, sorry.}  Then we sorted them on the board.  I called out the words, and they wrote them and circled the word family in the color for each column, like this.

Then the students went back to their sorts and circled the word families on their words, which I got from Words Their Way: Word Sorts for Letter Name - Alphabetic Spellers .

We then used those same words to read various books with those word families in them.  We will move through word families and focus on finding chunks that we know in words to help with reading fluency.

How do you help your students find word parts to help with fluency?  I would love some new ideas!

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