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The AT word family is one of the first sets of words young children learn to read, usually in kindergarten. These words are practiced as part of a word family.

What is a word family?

A word family is a set of words with the same ending. The words in a word family always rhyme.

Here is a downloadable list of words from the AT word family. Just click to download and read on for some great printable worksheets and activities to teach the words in the AT word family.

The first words kids usually read...

When kids are first starting to read, they usually begin reading CVC words. CVC stands for consonant vowel consonant words.

The AT word family is one of the first, if not THE first, family of words children practice reading in school. Since “a” is the first letter of the alphabet, children are usually most familiar with its sound out of the vowels: a, e, i, o, and u. “T” is also another sound kids more easily remember.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

AT Word Family Worksheets Packet

These FREE downloadable worksheets will help your child build fluency with the words in the AT family.

When working with the list and flashcards in the printable packet, I recommend using the 3 letter CVC words for beginning readers. The 4 letter words (CCVC words) are only for a challenge.

There are so many hands-on ways to use the AT word family flashcards for activities and games that your kid will love. I find that just going through the flashcards can be boring, so check out the activities we played with them below!

flashcards for AT word family

Page 1 of 2 Flashcards

Picture flashcards that match the word flashcards above
Match and Write. Children connect the picture to the word and then trace the word
Beginning sound worksheet where students determine which of two words matches the picture

Hands-On Activities Using AT Words

AT Word Family SPLAT!

Okay so I usually call this game, SWAT it, but it didn't rhyme, SPLAT the AT word it is!

Use those flashcards you just printed out and call out a word. Kids love getting permission to make something go SPLAT! Make sure to use blue painters tape so you don't ruin your walls!

2 kids using fly swatters to hit AT words on a white wall and smiling

Muffin Pan Spelling with the AT word family

Kids absolutely love muffin pan spelling so if you're looking to try this with other word families you can find more picture cards there. We use any muffin pan and these soft and magnetic Coogam letters.

Try this game with one of two ways:

  1. Beginning sounds version- match the initial sound to the word from the picture card
  2. CVC spelling full version- spell the AT word that matches the picture in it's entirety
muffin pan next to pictures of bat, rat, mat, and hat. in left veresion the muffin pan includes only the -at ending of each word and the beginning letters are under the pan. The second picture on the left has all the words spelled to match the AT words on the right

Word Ladder for the AT Family

Create a word ladder listing all the words you can think of that rhyme with at! Display them with Post-its, flashcards, or these cute paint chip cards.

word family ladder

Memory Matching Game- Pictures + Words

Using the picture and word flashcards from the AT word packet, play a classic game of memory. Take turns flipping two cards and if they match, you keep them. Continue flipping them over till all are gone.

AT Family Word Sort

This is pretty intuitive, but a simple sorting game can be great practice. Read the word and match it with the picture.

As kids sound out the words, they're practicing their phonics letter/sound association, but they also need to be able to BLEND those three sounds together to make the word, which is a very important phonemic awareness skill that lots of people don't know to practice.

each word flashcard is matched with its picture. words/pictures are: bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat

The AT Word Family House

Let's really lean in to that family part of "word family." All these words live together! So let's give them a house.

a paper craft house with AT on the room and paint chips with different rhyming at words on the bottom

The Cat and the Rat Book, A First Reader

I created this printer friendly (black and white) decodable book to help kids practice reading words in the -at family. It’s FREE to print and use with your child. They can even color it in. Maybe it’ll be the very first book they read!

Parents often ask...

When are kids supposed to be able to read the words in the AT word family?

Kids are expected to read most CVC (consonant vowel consonant words) at the end of kindergarten based on Kindergarten Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.D. Since the AT family is usually the first set of words children learn to decode (sound out) independently, they are likely to begin reading these words around the middle of kindergarten.

But I want to make sure I say that everyone is different and that's okay! Not all kids will read these words in kindergarten.

According to, "Not all kids develop reading skills at the same rate. Taking longer doesn’t mean they’re not on track to become good readers." That's a very important reminder for parents in this world where we are constantly comparing ourselves and our kids.

What are other word families at the same reading level?

Other families to work on after the -at word family would be the -ag, -ad, -am, and -an families.

I've created these activities and printables for the -an word family just for you!

The letters in all these families use the usual phonetic sounds for each letter so they don’t confuse beginning readers (unlike the -ar and-as word families where there are letters making irregular sounds like the “a” in far and the “s” in has).

Hands on learning is my secret to teaching reading so kids are never bored!
I NEVER use workbooks or worksheets.

When I say "hands on learning," I mean any kind of learning where your child is actively participating in creating new knowledge or solving a problem. This is also called learning by doing. From your own childhood, did you ever really learn something from a worksheet? I remember the projects, the games, the activities that got me and my classmates up and moving, creating, and solving problems.

Hidden Object is a hands on learning game that combines reading skills with a fun, element of surprise.

How to Play Hidden Object- A hands on learning game:

What you'll need-

Version 1, Letters and Letter Sounds:

On the Post-its, write the letters your child is learning. If you're child is just starting to recognize letters, I recommend starting with the letters of their name.
In this version, children will either say the letter name or the letter sounds as they lift each bowl on the hunt for the hidden object.

Child lifting bowls with different letters on them

Version 2, Reading CVC Words:

If your child has moved into reading, try sight words or CVC words in a particular word family (on example is the AT word family with words like cat, rat, bat, sat, etc).

Another idea would be to include words that have a new sound they've just learning like digraphs: sh, wh, th, and ch.

Child picking up cups with words on them

Invite your child to play:

  1. Say, "I've hidden a special object under one of these containers. Before you check under the container you must read the letter or word on that container's note."
  2. Remind your child to read the letter or word before they can look under the container for the hidden object.
  3. Once they find the hidden object, have them close their eyes and start again!

Hands on Learning at all levels of literacy:

This simple hands on game can be used for so many different skills: letter sounds, letter identification, sight words, CVC words, digraphs, etc.
In this instance, Big Sis was practicing reading CVC words (consonant vowel consonant words) that had different vowels in the middle. If I notice her struggling with a specific vowel or letter sound, I would put more words with those sounds on the Post its.

Hands-On Learning Games + Reading Comprehension:

Whenever I discuss early literacy skills like reading CVC words and sight words, I want to reinforce that all the games and wonderful activities are only part of the reading puzzle. The biggest thing you can do for your child to have success with reading from an early age is read to them everyday.

Guiding questions as you read aloud with your child:

Like teaching your child through hands on learning games? Want to teach you 4-5 year old to read using hands on learning? Check out The Fun Club! Subscribe for a free week of activities right now!

13 powerful letter learning games

Learning Letters is the first step in learning to read. Children in preschool and kindergarten largely focus on letter identification and letter sounds. While some kids are naturally inclined to learn letters from a young age, others take longer and that's okay.

My mission is to making learning letters and how to read fun and hands on. So if you're looking for a letter sounds worksheet or some alphabet flashcards, this isn't the place.

Instead I'm going to show you my most favorite, hands-on letter learning games so that your kid is just as excited about the alphabet as I am (that's super excited...ahem...kindergarten teacher).

Is there a correct order of teaching letters and sounds?

There is not one correct order of teaching letters but instead many different ways to choose which letters to focus on first.

  1. Alphabetical Order - this is often very common in classrooms that have a "Letter of the Week" curriculum.
  2. Learning letters of child's name first - Kids are excited and drawn to learn about the letters in their name, and one of the most important things to demonstrate kindergarten readiness is writing one's name. For that reason, I do recommend we begin letter learning with the letters of your child's name.
  3. Learning letters based on their shape - this method is recommended by Handwriting Without Tears, a writing curriculum. Basically, they recommend teaching letters that are easiest to write first. That would mean letters that are made with straight lines first (L, T, I, H), followed by ones with curves next (D, B, S, C), and finally letters with diagonal lines last (R, Z, K, N).
  4. SATPIN - These are part of a phased learning of letters that recommends teaching SATPIN first. Apparently, those letters are the most common ones that can also make the most words: pin, sat, tin, pat, pan, sit, etc. Learning SATPIN letters first gives kids the ability to work on other reading skills without memorizing all the letters first. After SATPIN comes... m d g o c k  e r u b h f  l   j w  v x y z q

No matter what order of teaching letters you choose, I would recommend only working on 5-7 new letters at a time to avoid overwhelming your child. They'll need lots of repetition for those letters to stick in their minds, so always add in some letters they already know when you're playing these games.

14 Hands-on Games for Learning Letters and Sounds!

1. The Letter Sounds Swat:

All you need are some Post-its, a fly swatter (or a hand), and you're ready to go. Call out letter names or letter sounds and have your little one jump and swat the letters. You can use numbers too!

Swat the Letter!

2. Letter Sounds Toy Rescue!

Hide toys around the house or even just on a door with blue tape. Invite your child to play by telling them that the Toy Thief has stolen their precious toys and they, and they alone must rescue them.

At the rescue station, toys must be matched with their beginning sound, reinforcing the letter sounds while also working on phonemic awareness!

Learning letter sounds with toy rescue

3. Rescue the Letters:

Got salad tongs? Blue tape? Any container? Combine with letters for this fun challenge!

It's simple, out the letter sound and have your child pluck the corresponding letter from the container below, maneuvering through the blue tape.

It's a wonderful chance to practice fine motor skills as well!

4. Letter Sounds Stomp!

Active kids don't like to sit to learn. Try Letter Sounds Stomp to get your child smashing their way to all their letters and sounds.

learning letters gross motor

5. Hidden Object Letter Learning Game:

Got some tricky letters that continue to confuse your child? Pick out those 5 or so letters they're learning and place them on Post-its for this surprising little game that kids love!

Learning Letters Hidden Object Game

6. Pom Pom Toss for Learning Letters

Much like my very viral Pinterest post for teaching Sight Words, you can place letters on Post-its, lining them up with a muffin pan.

Throw the poms poms at the muffin pan and yell the letter name and sound! Kids and adults love this hands-on learning game that happens to also improve your aim.

Loving learning letters yet?

7. Letter Sounds Post-it Hunt:

Pick out those target letters your child is working on and write them separately on a piece of construction paper. Hide 4 Post-it notes of the same letter around your home and have your child seek out those Post-its.

As your child matches the Post-it letter to the matching construction paper letter, they say the matching letter sounds!

learning letters post it matching game

8. Learning Letters with Bear's Bag:

Surprise! Your favorite stuffed animal is going on a trip, but you need to pack some intriguing objects for it!

Place different letters in a bag. Take turns pulling out different letters and searching around the house that you can pack that begin with that letter sound.

Place the item with the letter and pack them for Bear's trip! Bon Voyage!

Learning letters with Bear

Learn letter sounds as Bear packs for a trip!

9. Toy Rescue by

In this creative game, kids rescue their toys from under a laundry basket, unlocking the "code" by writing the letters that match the beginning sounds for each item. Genius!

10. Zig-Zag Letter Sounds Balance:

Got some blue painters tape? Create some zig zags for your child to traverse. Along the way, place some Post-it notes with letters they're learning on it.

Give your child a way they must cross the path: tip toe, jump, hop on one leg, walk, skip.

Each time they come to a letter, they need to stop, name it, and say it's letter sound.

Do your kids love trains and cars? They can even use their vehicles to traverse the zig zag path encountering letters as train stations or stop lights.

Zig Zag Balance for letter learning

11. "Noisy Jump" Letter Learning by

Take the fun outside with some chalk and play this silly, active hands-on learning game from The Imagination Tree. Draw letters on the ground and have children jump on the letters you name!

12. Alphabet Glow Up

Grab those plastic Easter eggs and get ready for the most epic letter learning experience. Match the letters in the eggs to the mat, and we even added a secret ingredient! WOW!

alphabet learning activity

13. Lowercase Sensory Soup

Practice matching letters with lowercase and capitals in this sensory soup bin that will keep even toddlers engaged!

learning letters sensory soup

Wondering how to teach CVC words to the young learners in your life? Let's do it, the fun way. Instead of using worksheets to teach CVC words, I'll share with you the top hands-on activities that really get kids excited about reading.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

What's a CVC word?

CVC words are the building blocks of kindergarten reading and writing. CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant. These are the first words that kids read by decoding, otherwise known as sounding out.

CVC words make sense to kindergarten readers, because they are phonetic and don't have any tricky sounds or rules. Examples of CVC words include Bob, mat, kit, peg, fog. As you read these words you'll notice that each letter makes its phonetic sound; there are no long vowels or tricky digraphs like sh/ch/th. That's why CVC words are the words your child should be reading first.

What CVC Words should I teach first?

Most children learn "a" as their first vowel. For that reason I recommend teaching kids to sound out CVC words that have an "a" in the middle first. Stick with one word family like the -am, -ad, or -at word family (you'll want these freebies).

10 Fabulously Fun Ways to Teach CVC Words:

The first 7 activities are best for how to teach CVC words to beginners. Activities 7-10 focus on how to teach CVC word families and are better for children who are successfully sounding CVC words out with independence.

1. How to Teach CVC Words with A Muffin Pan

All you need are letters, a muffin pan, and these epic picture cards for 4 ways to play. You can grab the cvc words list with pictures here.

how to teach cvc words activity with a muffin pan

2. Magnetic Bingo Chip Reading with CVC Words

When I discovered magnetic bingo chips, I nearly lost my mind. This is one of the most engaging ways I have used for how to teach CVC words. Print out the FREE CVC words cards. Then place one magnetic bingo chip on each dot. Finally give your child their magnetic wand to touch each of the chips with as they sound out the word. Viola!

Two pages of Bingo Chip Wand CVC Word CardsDownload
teaching cvc words with bingo chips and wand

3. The Hidden Object CVC Words Game

Where could it be? Read the word and lift the cup. This hands on reading game is perfect for beginners, since you can play with as many or as few CVC words as you'd like, preventing visual overwhelm!

teaching cvc words with the hidden object game

4. Crack the Secret Code with CVC Words: brings this hands on game where kids have to find the beginning sound for each picture to crack the code. Once the pictures are complete, they reveal a CVC word at the bottom. How fun!

5. Real or Silly: Making CVC words

An important part of how to teach CVC words is not just blending the words but for children to understand the word they just read. In this magnetic letter game, kids will make their own CVC words and determine whether or not they're real words or silly words.

The Coogam magnet letters are perfect to use when teaching CVC words, because the vowels are red and the consonants are blue, making it really easy for children to make their own CVC words.

how to teach real and silly cvc words

For additional practice with nonsense CVC words, you have got to check out this video version of the Real or Silly word game by the extremely silly Mr. B's brain.

6. Splat the CVC Word Gross Motor Game

Got a wiggly kid in need of reading practice? They'll love this SPLAT the CVC word game as you call out CVC words and they make them go SPLAT! Use 5 words with beginners and increase as they build fluency (that means are able to read faster).

How to teach CVC words to wiggly kids

7. Match the Picture and CVC word game

Rather than matching CVCs on a worksheet, let's make it FUN! Grab your free CVC words with pictures HERE and play a classic game of memory or give each student one card and have them find their partner! There are so many ways to practice reading CVC words with these pictures and words.

cvc word and picture matching cards

8. Post-it Matching Game: How to Teach CVC Word Families

Kids love any kind of activity where they get to go on a "hunt," right? So if you've got an active kiddo, this is JUST how to teach CVC words so they'll be super into it. First hide the Post-its around the house or classroom; then have your child find them and return them to the home base.

how to teach cvc word families with post its

9. CVC Word Families Duplo Sort

Write CVC words in from 3 different word families on dot stickers, then place the stickers on the Duplos. Next, hide the Duplo bricks around the house and have your little one find them.

Then comes the reading part. Each brick must be sorted with the ones in its word family. Once all the bricks in the family are reunited, build a tower with them to complete the game.

using duplos for how to teach cvc word families

10. Word Family Snowball Toss by

This fun game is's take on how to teach CVC words, and it is ridiculously fun. You're going to need some ping pong balls and containers to try to match the words on the ping pong balls to the word family cups.

When is my child ready to start reading CVC words?

Children usually begin reading CVC words in kindergarten, when they are 5-6 years old.

Here are the skills your child should be able to do in order to begin reading CVC words:

What are good books for how to teach CVC words?

My favorite book series for beginning readers that I recommend to every family are the Bob books. Their books are truly decodable, so there are no tricky words that make kids confused.

I cannot recommend the BOB series enough because the books are simple, short, and not to many words on the page. I used these books for all my kindergarteners and my own child. You betcha I cried every single time one of them read a whole book for the first time!

Teachers begin teaching CVC words in kindergarten, once children have learned their letters and sounds.

CVC stands for consonant vowel consonant. These words are the simplest words to sound out aka decode.

Here are four CVC word games for kindergarten from least to most difficult. All of them use a muffin pan and CVC words with pictures.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Want a CVC words list with printable pictures?

Check out my shop to get my CVC words with pictures.pdf.

Printable CVC words with pictures pdf

Supplies you'll need...

  1. CVC words with pictures - get mine above
  2. 12 Cup Muffin Pan- we use this GoodCook one for all our CVC word building + baking needs
  3. Magnetic letters -Coogam makes our favorite soft foam letters that come with a white board and carrying case

Teaching CVC words: 1 Setup 4 ways to Play

1. Missing Beginning Sounds - Early Kindergarten Level

teaching cvc words with pictures

For this activity in particular, I recommend using words from the AT Word Family for the most beginning readers. The AT Word Family is one of the very first word families children are taught to read.

Not only do kids practice their beginning sound knowledge with this game, they also are building awareness of the other sounds in the word.

The beauty of the muffin pan is that it breaks down each word into 3 components: the CVC -consonant, vowel, consonant parts. Similarly to a story, each word has its beginning, middle, and end.

To play, place each CVC word's picture by the corresponding line on the muffin pan. Point out how the middle and ending sounds are there, but the beginning sound is missing.

First have your child choose a beginning sound matching the picture.. Then model how to sound out the word: /b/ /a/ /g/. Finally, blend the sounds together to make the whole CVC word.

It's okay if your child cannot yet blend the sounds together. Having you model that will greatly enhance their understanding of the steps it takes to read a word.

2. Teaching CVC words with Missing Ending Sounds-Middle Kindergarten Level

In this version, everything is the same except the ending sounds missing from the CVC words.

It might seem we have gone a bit out of order by skipping the middle sounds. However, middle sounds are the most difficult to isolate since vowels are similar in sound.

Have your kindergartner isolate the ending sound of the word, then find the matching letter and complete the word. Don't stop just there! Point to each letter from left to right and sound out the word before blending the sounds together to make the complete CVC word.

Teaching CVC words in kindergarten is a snap when you break it down letter by letter.

In the example, kids are given the four letters that are the correct ending sounds. But, if you're child is ready for a challenge, you can include more letters (up to 10) for them to choose from!

3. Teaching CVC words with Middle Sounds- Middle to End Kindergarten Level

teaching cvc words middle sounds

Isolating middle sounds to complete the CVC words is a trickier skill to practice. This is because vowels have multiple sounds and often sound similar for young learners.

Accordingly, we stick to teaching CVC words with short vowel sounds: bat, rat, dog, fog first. Kids wait until first grade to practice words like car and for (where the vowels don't make their short vowel sound.)

In kindergarten we teach kids two ways to isolate and listen for the middle sounds in CVC words:

  1. Segment the word aka break the word into parts: /c/ /a/ /t/
  2. Lengthen the word by stretching it to hear what's in the middle: "CAAAAAAAAAT"

One of my favorite strategies for stretching out the word is to speak "Whale" like Dory in Finding Nemo. Certainly, if your child has seen that movie, they'll know just what to do. Really stretch out the CVC word and listen for the middle sound.

Like with ending sounds, you can offer just the 4 missing middles or give them a chance to pick out the right ones out of all the letters!

4. Independently Build CVC words

spelling cvc words independently using muffin pan

In my house, I'm known for sitting around with my Cup Of Noodles. So my kids' dubbed this version of the game: Cup of Wordles.

This activity is the culmination of teaching CVC words in kindergarten! The kids have to build the entire word themselves. It's still very simple since there are only 4 words to build at a time, and the kids have the letters to choose from.

In 4 cups, I put the letters needed to make each of the words. Then I place each cup in the beginning sound spot of the muffin pan.

Kids choose a cup and unscramble the letters in it to make the word on the matching CVC word picture card. Then, they check their work by sounding out the letters to read the CVC word.

The Cup of Wordles title is just another engaging way to engage the kids in play. They could be bakers, chefs, or home cooks in the kitchen using their letter ingredients to make delicious words.

Teaching CVC words in kindergarten is easy with these hands-on games...

Now that you have your CVC words with pictures, why not practice some more reading? Your kindergartener will thank you for playing these simple and fun CVC word games.

How to teach CVC words
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