Reader Fails to Use Spelling Patterns

The Problem Looks Like…

The reader does not make a connection between similarly spelled words that share common phonics patterns. The reader has not categorized words by phonics patterns to make reading easier. 

How To…

Teach analogy of word families by connecting known phonics to new words.

It’s Related To…

Word Families


Knowledge of word families makes reading easier because the reader no longer views each word as unrelated and isolated from all other words. The reader can connect a new word with similar phonics patterns to a known word, making faster learning.

Using Known Words to Understand New Words or Analogy

·       Analogy is the process of decoding new words by using spelling patterns from known words.

·       Long lists of rhyming words are not the goal.

·       Use part of a known word to read a new word, with the same phonics pattern.

Phonemic Awareness

Before a new reader can use analogy well, phonemic awareness is beneficial. Phonemic awareness is the aural (with ears only) manipulation of sounds without the visual prompts of letters.

A new reader must first distinguish words that sound similar and in what way.

o   Do they sound the same at the beginning, middle or end?

o   Can you say the word without the onset or without the rhyme?

o   Can you substitute the onset or rhyme with another onset or rhyme.

These aural skills are prerequisites for use of good visual analogy. Without phonemic awareness skills, the new reader has only visual processing cues, which are not sufficient for successful analogy work in reading and writing.

Word vs. Letter

·       Make sure the learner has a good understanding of word verses letter.

·       Test for understanding by asking a new reader to isolate a word, or two, with fingers or two slips of paper.

·       Then isolate a letter or two letters.

Assuming the new reader understands the meaning of a word, when they actually do not, can result in slow progress mastering word families. Check to be certain the reader has clear understanding of the concept of word in a variety of contexts. Here’s a link to teaching words vs. letters.

Manipulate the Word Family


·       Use magnetic letters to build a known word.

·       Separate out the phonics pattern for focus.

·       Substitute other letters while maintaining focus on the known pattern.



·       Write the known word.

·       Erase and change the other letters, keeping focus on the known pattern.



·       Write the known word on a strip of paper.

·       Cut off the known phonics pattern.

·       Substitute the other letters, keeping focus on the known pattern.

Now That’s Better…

The reader can identify a word and a letter. The reader understands words have similar spelling patterns. The reader manipulates sounds aurally hearing sounds as the same or different, substituting and deleting sounds, onsets and rhymes. A reader makes new words from known words, creating word families.