Learning -AT words in kindergarten is often one of the very first steps in a reading program.
Young readers are just beginning to blend letter sounds…and suddenly they see that all those letters actually do make words that they can read!
This can be a very exciting time for kindergarten students to start building confidence and realizing that they are on the path to reading just like the big kids!
Keep reading this post to:
- Find Out More About AT Words
- See an AT Word List
- Try My Fun, Simple Way To Teach AT Words
- 5 Free Printable Worksheets!
- Why You Don’t Need That Kindergarten Sight Word List
AT Words Explained + AT Family Word List
AT words are a word family made up of words that end in -AT.
Here Are Some CVC Examples:
As the child progresses to consonant blends, they will be able to sound out words like:
Why AT Words Are So Important For Kindergarten
They help early readers to quickly and confidently break down decodable words (aka not sight words).
As you know, the process of reading can be oh so overwhelming.
Using word families can be a great way to give kids a little bit of a short cut to sounding out and blending every single letter.
Once they learn to recognize /AT/ as a base, little learners will be able to start reading and making new words!
And that can be very exciting for kids and teachers.
Especially as kids see that those AT words are high-frequency words that they will likely come across in easy kindergarten books.
How To Teach AT Words To Kindergarteners: Code Breakers!
Review the short /a/ sound and the /t/ sound with your student. To make it more hands-on, feel free to use letter tiles, letter magnets, or any other manipulative you have on hand.
Practice bringing the letters together and blending them into /AT/.
For some children, that will be about all they can handle, and that’s okay! Feel free to save the next step for another lesson.
When you’re ready to move on, show your kindergartener a /b/ letter tile. Practice that letter sound together.
Then reintroduce the /AT/ letter tiles you already blended. Tell your kindergartener that these letters have a secret code and your child has to discover what the letters say.
****A little drama never hurt any reading lesson.
Practice saying /b/ and then saying /at/. Ask your child if they think they know what it says.
Hopefully, they will excitedly yell “Bat!” If you feel like having some fun, pull out a picture of a bat (or an actual one!) and congratulate them on cracking the code!
Ask your child what words rhyme with BAT and show them how they can build those words with that AT letter pattern. Continue on with the provided worksheets below.
What If My Child Is Struggling With The AT Words?
Don’t stress it.
Kids learn to read at all different ages and paces.
You may just need to spend a little longer on this initial step.
Or it could be that your child needs to step back and review some pre-reading skills, such as phonemic awareness or letter sounds before they are ready to move forward.
And that is completely okay.
How to Access Your Printable Worksheet Packet
I have put together 5 worksheets to help you and your kindergartner work through these initial phonics skills.
There is one for every day of the week!
You can preview the worksheets in the images below. At the bottom of this post will be an instant download pdf link.
Please only use these worksheets for homeschool, co-op, and classroom use.
This simple worksheet has a list of words for your child to examine with their code-breaking skills.
Tell them that they must sort through the CVC words and find the AT family words.
Have the child practice sounding them out. As an extra challenge, see if they can sound out the other simple words on the list.
If you have time, tell the child to try and draw the AT words around the border of the page.
This worksheet has a word bank and picture clues!
Work together to sound out the different words and see how the letters fit in the different size boxes.
This worksheet is a favorite and a fun way to practice common words!
Arm your young learners with a box of crayons and help them locate and color all the AT family word pictures on the page.
If your child needs extra help, consider taking out the letter tiles. Break down each word – sound by sound – and spell it out with letter tiles.
Ask your child if it ends in /AT/. If it does, then color the image! If it doesn’t, put an X on it and move on.
Every kid gets excited when you break out the glue sticks and scissors!
Have your child sound out the words and glue the appropriate picture to it.
As an alternative activity, cut out all the squares and have your child glue them back to back.
Now you have your own set of AT Word flash cards!
On the last day, you have the most challenging worksheet.
The child has to look at the picture clue and write the word without a word bank. They will be surprised to know that they can write whole words after working so hard this week!
Be sure to encourage and coach the child as they write the correct word. As an added bonus, you might gently introduce the concept of homophones – bat could mean two different things!
A Quick Word On Kindergarten Sight Words
Another portion of your reading curriculum might be sight word lists and sight word activities.
I would caution you to be very careful at the kindergarten level with sight words.
Kids are being pushed to read at earlier and earlier stages, which is not developmentally appropriate for most of them. The method being used is to essentially read words by memorizing “letter pictures.”
Even words that CAN be decoded with phonics skills. For example, the Dolch Word List (a very commonly used sight word list) lists words like /and/, /big/, /an/, and /long/ as words that should be memorized.
Basic phonics skills can be used to break those words down so that kids don’t have to memorize them – which is much less stressful.
****The more modern Fry Sight Word List calls on kids to memorize 1,000 sight words to learn to read -yikes!
Yes, sight words have their place, but I would encourage you to wait till the end of kindergarten or even first grade to start introducing them. Make them the exception, not the rule when teaching reading.
Continue to work on short vowel sounds, blends, and letter families. Buy decodable books with simple sentences to work on fluency with those skills.
You might be really surprised to see how far you can go!
Using a set of word families is really one of the best ways to get kids off and running with the beginning steps of reading.
It sets a strong foundation in phonics instruction with the goal of long-term success – not the short-term gain of memorizing a sight word card.
Enjoy the journey and happy reading!