Keeping Up with Phonics and Word Families

I love teaching phonics.  It’s so empowering for students to have confidence in their sounds as they tackle decoding new words.  Teaching a new phonics pattern each week is fun when you have the materials ready to go for your students.   Keeping up with phonics and word families, however, can add to weekly stress and frustration for teacher.  I can say this because, up until just a couple of years ago, I would go on a scavenger hunt each week hoping to find activities that would help me teach each spelling pattern or phonics sound pattern.   Talk about frustrating.  Certain phonics patterns had plenty of materials, while others had almost nothing to be found.

weekly activities for spelling and phonics first grade kindergarten

Phonics: The Fast and Furious

Week by week, I began creating the materials needed in little kits for each phonics and word family.  By Friday, students were asking what the next week’s pattern would be out of excitement!  This was a crucial turning point for me.  I gained confidence in my teaching because I was excited about the materials.  I knew my students were getting what they needed to be successful.

PicMonkey Collage2

Recently while presenting on phonics and comprehension last week, some teachers asked if I could share the overall order in which the phonics patterns were introduced. I know every school/district/state likely has a slightly different order, but after teaching in both California and Texas with two very different student populations, I was pleased to find that the lists and order of patterns was very simliar! {This is first grade}  If you are looking for this order of patterns, look no further! You are welcome to pin or save this picture for your phonics instruction!  To use this list, start on the left and work your way down the column week by week.  When you get to the bottom of the column, move to the next column and work your way down week by week.

phonics, spelling, word families

Review Review Review

Whether you have super readers or struggling second language learners trying to manage the quick pacing of weekly phonics instruction, one thing is certain.  All developing readers need to review and review often!  This was not easy for me because I already felt so pressed for time in my quick-paced guided reading groups!  Do you know how much I am supposed to get covered to mastery?  Now I need to review?  GAH!

Below there are three things in this picture that help do just that!  On the left is the kit of one week’s materials.  {Happens to be short e CVC} The half sheet flip book on the bottom is a little soud spelling anchor word flip book that students beg to do!  It takes minimal time and students become automatic with sound spellings of the past!  {video under picture of this flip book in action} The ‘ed says red’ page is a sound spelling binder of words for students to read through pattern by pattern.  As you learn a new pattern it goes in the growing binder!  Students beg to take this to the library when they read to themselves because they can read every word!


In this video, a student has asked to be the teacher and I happily allowed it so I could take this video.  The students are flipping through previous week’s phonics patterns as a quick warm up to our lesson. There’s 5 different flip books to review all of the different patterns I shared above.  The little booklets are called Flipping for Phonics.


Phonics Posters and Binders

I recently shared this picture on social media showing how Life in First used the phonics posters {Long Vowels and Vowel Teams} to create an anchor wall for the coming series of phonics patterns.  That pink paper.  It’s making my heart beat fast, because I just love it. phonics word family

I used the anchor posters the same way in my classroom.  I would display 6 posters at a time or 6 weeks worth of new patterns.  Then as we learned them, we would add the word pages to the class binders. Each pattern has the picture and anchor word and then a word list.  Students just love reading through these binders!


Trace and Read

The student interest was so high, I decided to take it up another level and add a tracing version to our literacy activities.  Now we could trace and write patterns at the writing center.  What? #favoriteteacherawardwinner


Weekly Phonics Kits

So what did we do each week?  What’s in these weekly kits?

phonics word families

First, there’s a read and match activity.  Students use the new phonics pattern and decode each word on the pocket chart.  Once they decode the word, they find a picture to match.


Another activity is to build, trace, and write.  These can be run off on regular copy paper, but I liked to laminate so they could be used over and over.  The other side has Y says E words.

phonics word family

Students love the dobber books.  Bingo dobbers from the dollar store make this one a favorite.  Dob the correct spelling and write it in the booklet.  This reviews the words in the pattern of the week.


Trace write and match is another fun activity to help your students continue to apply the new pattern.

In this set, the fifth activity is a sentence writing activity.  Students use the graphics for the phonics pattern and can choose three {or 6 if you use the back} graphics to glue in the boxes.  Then they write a sentence using the word.  Students knew that handwriting and spacing was a big part of this activity so it was a way for me to get that practice in there while applying phonics at the same time.  #win

phonics word family

Week at a Glance

Monday introduce new pattern. Anchor poster goes on the wall.

Bundle of Posters for the Year {every pattern}

phonics word family

5 new activities for the new pattern begin Monday through Friday during word work in small group rotations.  I put mine in a 5 drawer tower.


Reading binder continues to be added to each week and students take turns having it in their book boxes.

Bundle of Posters for the Year {every pattern}



Tracing pages get added weekly.

Bundle of tracers for the year {every pattern}


During guided reading, flipping for phonics booklets are practiced.

phonics word family


Phonics CHECK!  Under control and ready to go all year long!



Word Families and Sight Words

If you are looking for more ideas on word families or sight words, be sure to check out these posts!

phonics word families

Sight Words          Word Families

phonics word families


Similar Posts

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  1. Happy Saturday night, Reagan!
    I just finished reading your post. LoVe It So! Question…how do you keep track of who has completed what at Word Work? I have students who struggle to finish 2 activities a week, let alone your 5. 🙁 I use a check sheet and check kids off each day, but I feel like a big meanie by Thursday.
    Thanks for all that you do!

  2. I love seeing all of your great products. I teach second and phonics is definitely something I want to improve on. Do you have a sequence that you have seen success with in second grade? Also, I can use several of these weekly kits because we currently review a lot of the skills taught in first, but are you planning on making more weekly kits for second grade skills? I would absolutely love to have a second grade bundle of weekly phonics kits!

  3. Hi Reagan,
    Thank you so much for this post! I was wondering if you use a spelling curriculum in addition to your weekly phonics practice. And if you do, do you have differentiated spelling groups? I have to use Words Their Way, but I also teach phonics patterns in my guided reading groups that don’t necessarily coordinate with each spelling group’s words for the week. (I teach first grade.) I haven’t really found a way to do it all that makes me happy. Just curious about your thoughts on spelling & phonics. Thanks!

  4. Hi There,
    this all looks fabulous but I’m confused as to how it is purchased. Is it a complete program and if so what is the cost?
    Thank you,

    1. Each item is linked in the post. If you click on the items, they will link you to my store where they can be purchased.

  5. In this article, I strongly agree with your statement, “It’s so empowering for students to have confidence in their sounds as they tackle decoding new words.”

    I believe that learning words in word families hels to give students confidence in their sounds and strengthens their decoding skills.

    Your learning charts, books, posters and binders are great for students learning new word families:
    -Spelling for the Year” chart
    -Flipping for Phonics Books
    -Phonics Posters and Binders
    -the many worksheets – trace, write, picture match

    Your statement, “Certain phonics patterns have plenty of materials, while others had almost nothing to be found,” is exactly what I found when looking for resources to help students with learning new sounds.

    Thank you for all of your work.

  6. Hello there! Well done with these Excellent resources! I am a beginning homeschooler mom, and looking at using this as a resource. I’m just confused about what I would get in the “The Big Phonics Bundle” (the “little kits” and “weekly phonics instruction” described both take me to the same purchase link… but there are also links for posters and long/short vowel items… sooo does that mean that everything pictured in this post is included in the Big Bundle? or are there some things that will need to be purchased separately?) I believe I can adapt this for our use, but I don’t want to make the purchase until I know what I’m getting into. Since this will only be used for about 3 kiddos, I’d like to make sure it has everything we need to go through phonics with a good chunk of our activities to make it worth the expense for just our family. Thanks again! 🙂 ~kind regards