Empowering Parents To Teach- Word Family Hearts

Special Delivery: Valentine’s Day Word Family Hearts

Once your child has mastered the individual letter sounds, word families can be the next step in your child’s phonological awareness. Word family is a term that refers to words that have the same ending letter pattern and corresponding sound.  For example, cat, bat, rat, all end with -at, therefore, they are all in the -at family.  I talk more about word families in the post, Learning to Read: Word Families. If you would like more information on what word families are and why they are helpful for young readers, take a minute to visit that post before doing this activity.



  • Word Family Hearts (print here: Color version or B&W version)
  • Word Family Label (I made these by cutting index cards)
  • Tray with at least four compartments or small boxes, or small mailboxes (use what you have available)
  • Small Paper Bag
  • Markers or Crayons

Here’s what our set up looked like:


Empowering Parents To Teach- Word Family Hearts

The materials set up


Before the Activity:

1. Print and cut out the hearts. Laminate them if possible.

2. Decorate the small paper bag to use as the Mail Bag.  You could also have your child do the decorating!

3. Fill the mail bag with the small hearts.

4. Attach the word family labels to your boxes, tray, or mailboxes.




1. Inform your child that today s/he is going to deliver hearts, just like people deliver valentines to their friends on Valentine’s Day.

2. Show your child the mail bag and let him or her know that inside the bag are hearts.  Each heart has a word on it.  His or her job is to deliver the heart to its right place.

3. Next, show your child the tray (or mailboxes) with the word family labels.  Tell your child that s/he is going to put the word with its family.  Look at each word family label and have your child read the rime*. Help your child if needed.  Remind your child that any word that ends with -at, goes with the -at family. Do this for each family. Just like family members all have the same last name, word families have the same last sound. You want to explain this in a way that makes sense to your child.


*Rime refers to the part of a word that follows the initial consonant or group of consonants.  For further information about onsets and rimes, click here.


Empowering Parents To Teach- Word Family Hearts


4. Have your child take out the first word.  For the first word, you will want to walk through the activity with your child.  Have your child read the word out loud.  Ask your child what sound they hear at the end, is it -at, -un, -it, or -all?  I would say each one aloud while pointing to the word family label.  Say the word again if necessary.  Your child should be able to hear the end sound (the rime) and match it to the correct family.


Empowering Parents To Teach- Word Family Hearts


5. If your child struggled, do the next one together. Model your thinking out loud.  For example, if you take out the word “sun”, read the word and verbalize your thought process. You may say, “I will look at the word families and say each one out loud to what matches.” “At, sun, hmm, they don’t sound the same at the end so they don’t rhyme. Un, sun, they sound they same at the end! They rhyme! The word ‘sun’ goes here with the -un family.”


6. Let your child do the rest by himself (or herself), providing support when needed.  If your child places one in the incorrect spot, take the word out and help him or her figure out the correct place.


7. Keep playing until all the hearts are delivered!

Empowering Parents To Teach- Word Family Hearts


As always, keep it fun! Your child is learning so much from you!



More reading activities:

empoweringparentstoteach an wordfamilyman





 Learning to Read: Word Families


Empowering Parents to Teach- Sight Word Hide and Seek


Sight Word Hide and Seek


Empowering Parents To Teach- Sentence Making





Sentence Making


This post is linked to Montessori Monday. Click on the link below to see more fun learning activities!

Montessori Monday

Empowering Parents to Teach- Sight Word Hide and Seek

Sight Word Hide And Seek

With enough exposure, sight words become easily recognized to a new reader. This game gives a fun opportunity to increase a child’s experience with these words!  Kids have to pay close attention to the words on their lists as they search to find hidden sight words.



  • Sight word cards to hide (print out materials below or make your own on index cards)– For longevity, it’s best to print them on cardstock or laminate them. You can also print them on different color paper so the child can easily recognize them when searching.
  • List of words to find

You can make your own words to hide depending on what your child is learning or you can use the materials I created.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Sight Word Hide and Seek

Click here for the free printable materials


How to play:

1. The adult hides all sixteen words.  The younger the child is, the easier they should be to find. 

      How I hid them for my four year old:

Empowering Parents to Teach- Hide  and Seek Sight Words

 Hide  and Seek Sight Words

 Hide  and Seek Sight Words

 Hide  and Seek Sight Words

 Hide  and Seek Sight Words


He thought this was hilarious!


2. The child is given a list of ten words to find.

3. Have the child read all ten words, with adult help if necessary, so the child knows what s/he is looking for.

4. Once the child finds a hidden word, s/he must check the list to see if it is one of the words on the list. Remember, there are sixteen words hidden, but only ten on the list.

5. Once all ten words are found, s/he must show them to you and read the found words out loud to you.  If all the words are the correct words on the list, s/he completed the game!  If any of the found words are not on list, have your child continue searching until the correct words are found.

6. To make the game competitive, you can set a timer.  Have your child find all ten words before time runs out.  Set the time based on what is appropriate for your child’s age and ability.

7. Play again using another word list to find the hidden words!


How is this game helpful?

As mentioned before, sight words are learned when kids see the word enough times and it becomes easily recognized.  The more words a child can read by sight, the more fluent they become as readers. In this activity, I chose words found on the Dolch sight word list that comprises commonly used words.


Often times when children try to identify a word by sight, they may just look at the first letter and guess.  With this in mind, I made sure to include more than one word using the same initial letter. By doing, this the child has to look past the first letter (hopefully at the whole word) to figure out if they found the correct word on his or her list. This can give the parent or teacher feedback. If your child brings back the wrong, “b” word, ask him or her why s/he thought that the word was correct.  After listening and understanding your child’s thought process, you can show your child how you know that the word is different. For example, if the word “big” was on the list and your child brought back the word, “blue” s/he may not be looking at the whole word. First, point out the good that your child did, s/he noticed that both words start with “b”.  After acknowledging this, you can point out to your child that when you look at the second letter the word on the list (big) has an “i” next and the word your child found (blue) has an “l” next.  This tells you that the two words are different.  Give your child another chance to find the matching word.  After this interaction with you, your child may be more likely to look at the letters in the word instead of just the beginning letter.  The goal is for your child to transfer this skill to his or her reading experiences.


I also made this a hide and seek game because it encourages movement. Kids were not designed to sit still, so I like to find ways that allow kids to move around while engaged in meaningful learning experiences!


As always, follow your child’s lead and keep a positive attitude!  As long as they are playing and having fun with these words, they are getting something out of the activity.  It may not go as planned, but the opportunity to show your child that you can have fun playing with words is priceless :)