Word families are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern. They have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. For example, at, cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the at sound and letter combination in common.
The 37 most common word families in English (according to Wylie and Durrell) are : ack, ain, ake, ale, all, ame, an, ank, ap, ash, at, ate, aw ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ick, ide, ight, ill, in, ine, ing, ink, ip, it, ock, oke, op, ore, ot, uck ,ug, ump, unk.
Many of the nursery rhymes contain common word families. Teachers can use these rhymes to teach these letter combinations (and how they are spelled and spoken), having the students sound them out after memorizing the rhyme. You can study one word family a week. Students can use the Little Explorers Picture Dictionary to look for more words that belong to word families.
The following is a list of the most common word families in English (from Wylie and Durrell, 1970, plus a few other word families).