Learning to Read Word Families: “…at” words

As my oldest has recently begun sounding out letters to form words, we are beginning to review a bunch of different early literacy programs and curriculums. To find what works and what are the most interesting reading programs out there!   This is the first in what I hope to be a long (although occasionally sporadic) series on different reading curriculum’s. This first program we discovered through Natalie, of Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.   She raved about Progressive Phonics.   We got the first e-book, printed it out and I was amazed at how quickly E began to figure out the word family “-at”.   I can see us using this program to supplement our learning

Words covered: at, bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat.

Some of the sentences we read included: “My fat cat sat on a big fat mat,” and,   “Can you look at my cat.”

To help reinforce her learning we used our sticky sticks to trace the letters “at” on a sheet and we’d form the additional letter to make the word we were reviewing.

Other activities we did to help learn the various words in the “at” family:

  • wrote our words on the chalkboard, we’d erase the first letter and replace it to form a new word
  • we used our phonics flip chart to review different sounds ending in “-at” (even if they were make-believe words)
  • we made flashcards with all our “at” words on them and rearranged them into sentences.

A tip:

Kirsten, a friend, gave me some terrific advice.   E was stuck for awhile at the “C-A-T” stage, where she would sound out the letters individually but had a hard time realizing they formed a word.   Rather than sounding out each letter independently, sound them out in blends.   “C-A-T” becomes, “ca”+”at”.   E totally “got it” the after a round of sounding out our words with this new method!

Perks of the Progressive Phonics Program:

  • It’s free!   The e-books are available at their site, you do have to sign in, but they are free for you to either use online or to print out and begin reading!
  • The books are silly.   My two-year old was giggling hysterically at the descriptions of the cat and the rat!
  • They have a number of other resources, coloring sheets, flash cards and puzzles are also available on the site (I have not tried these).
  • The program starts with the alphabet recognition and goes all the way to 2/3rd grade levels with advanced lessons in punctuation, exceptions to phonics rules, and complicated word blends like “knight” or “starve”

Downsides of the Progressive Phonics Program:

  • The books print out in full sheets, if you want them to be books you’ll have to cut and paste a bunch.
  • You have to print them yourself   (we ran out of toner – urgh) or look at the computer monitor the whole time.   I can see how purchasing the whole kit ready-made could be convenient.
  • The sentences provided with each word family are pretty brief.   My kiddo memorized them with only a few repetitions so we had to rewrite the sentences to encourage real reading and not “reading” from memory.

We will be incorporating the Progressive Phonics Reading program into our family’s learning-to-read experience with some adaptations.


  1. Check with your local library on printing materials from their computers–Ours allows free printing for the first 100 pages a month! So I save stuff on a jump drive, and print from that when we visit the library!

  2. We’re trying this out too. And having some of the same struggles.

    Oh, and it’s Mouse Grow, Mouse Learns. Not “Learning With Mouse.” Just an FYI.
    .-= Ticia´s last blog ..Montessori Monday =-.

  3. Thanks for the heads up – I fixed the typo! PS. Love your Montessori activity!

  4. Thanks so much for the comment on my blog. I LOVE your site. I can’t wait to explore it a bit more. Also, I will definitely look into the book you recommend. My goal is to just gain as much knowledge as I can and to hopefully learn from others who have older children than myself!

  5. Thank you for this resource…my 3-yr-old likes to play this game verbally cat, rat, ker-splat (is usually where we end up!) He thinks rhyming is hilarious. Now I can show him what it “looks” like too.
    .-= Lea Ann´s last blog ..$10 off $20 at Buca di Beppo. =-.

  6. Progressive Phonics is wonderful and I would recommend the “alphebet” series to anyone (which are the books recommended here. They start with the basics and work up. They are fun and enertaining. You read them with your child. We print hem and then fold the in 1/2. My husband takes them to work to staple them together making a nice book. Me and my children (6 and 5) have had a blast learning from them. I am glad that I am not the only one that has found them. The only problem with the series is that it is not yet done. There are currentlly about 35 books in the program. Which is more than a enough to get started with, but my son (5) is ready for more. I am not as happy with the “learn to read” levels my daughter (6) did not enjoy it and would not get thourgh the first book, mostly just boring. She is now is the first grade and learning to read quickly.

    did not enjoy them.

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