Standard Lesson

Learning About Word Families with Click, Clack, Moo

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Six 20-minute sessions
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This lesson uses the book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin to teach students word identification strategies. Through shared readings, teachers and students read and reread text from the book with fluency and expression. With repeated teacher modeling and guided practice, students learn to identify rimes or word families and apply their knowledge to the decoding of new words.

From Theory to Practice

  • Children need automatic decoding skills. They also need to acquire the motivation that comes from engagement in purposeful, meaningful literacy tasks. Using quality literature that children can enjoy provides practice with and a purpose for learning word identification strategies as well as motivation to read.

  • Using literature and connected spelling and writing activities in conjunction with word study enables children to see a purpose and connection between the strategies they are learning and how they apply to reading and writing.

  • Children need to be directly taught how to use spelling patterns (rimes or word families) to spell and read new words.

  • Repeated reading of texts has been shown to be effective in developing fluency (Clay, 1994; Dowhower, 1989).

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

  • Chart paper and markers

  • Highlighting tape

  • Whiteboard, chalkboard, or magnetic board and letters

  • Websites



1. Determine three or four stopping points in the book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type to use during the first read aloud in Session 1. Mark these places in the text with sticky notes. You may choose to focus on vocabulary words, illustrations, or concepts.
  • You might stop at the place in the book where the farmer reacts to the note that reads, "Sorry. We're closed. No milk today." Talk with students about the farmer's shadow on the wall. What does that mean? What do the cows want? What does it mean to go on strike?

  • Another stopping point might be when the duck takes the cow's note to the farmer. Discuss what it means to be a neutral party, and also what the word ultimatum means.

  • Consider also stopping when the ducks write their note to the farmer. Talk about why this ending is funny and why the ducks would write "Click, clack, quack" instead of "Click, clack, moo."
2. Prepare the five typed notes from Farmer Brown and the animals in large print on chart or poster paper. Make sure that the words are large and clear enough so that each student will be able to see the words from his or her seat in the classroom.

3. Gather highlighting tape, a magnetic board and letters, and a whiteboard with dry-erase markers. Make sure that students will be able to easily see these materials from where they are sitting in the classroom. It's important for students to be able to see as you write the word family words and change the first letter to create new words.

4. Access the Magnetic Letter/Word Game and create your own Word Bank. Type in the word families /-ear/, /-ow/, /-old/, /-ight/, /-en/, /-end/, /-ill/, /-ond/, and /-ite/. Type in the beginning letters b, br, c, ch, d, dr, f, fl, g, gr, h, k, l, m, n, p, pl, qu, r, s, sk, sp, t, th, thr, w, and wh. Save the webpage when you are finished.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Recognize and read nine rimes or word families

  • Apply their knowledge of the nine rimes or word families to the decoding of new words

  • Use the sounds from letters and letter patterns, combine those sounds with the word family words, and blend those sounds into recognizable words

  • Read aloud with fluency and expression

Session 1

1. Before you begin reading, introduce students to the book Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by telling them the title, author, and illustrator. Also give them a brief idea of what the book will be about, such as, "This story is about a farmer with a problem. Wait until you find out what his problem is!"

2. Read the book aloud to students. This reading should be for enjoyment and comprehension, allowing students to get the overall idea of the story and to enjoy the illustrations.

3. About three or four times during the reading, stop and invite discussion of a vocabulary word, an illustration, or a concept as planned in advance of the lesson (see Preparation, 1).

4. End the session by allowing students time to share their thoughts about the book. Be sure to stop the discussion while interest is high so that students will want to hear the story again the next day.

Session 2

1. Begin this session by reading the book again to students.

2. After the reading, draw students' attention to the chart or poster paper with the first note typed by the cows to Farmer Brown asking for electric blankets in the barn.

3. Have students read aloud together the first note from the cows while you point to each word on the chart paper. During this shared reading, it is important for your voice to model fluency and expression.

4. Next, introduce the concept of rime or word families. A rime is the first vowel in a word and all of the letters that follow. In the word dear, the rime or word family is /-ear/. In the word cow, the rime or word family is /-ow/. Students can be taught how to change the beginning sound or letters of a known word family to make a new word.

5. Use a whiteboard, chalkboard, or a magnetic board where letters in words can be changed easily. Write and say the first word family word cold and point out that the word family is /-old/. Show students how you can change the first letter to make new words. Erase the c and write an f. Repeat this process several times, showing students c and -old and then f and -old. One key is to emphasize the sound of the first letter first, and then say the rime or word family as a chunk. Go back to the known word cold each time you change the first letter. Other words that can be made with the /-old/ family are mold, sold, and told.

6. Another word family in the first note to Farmer Brown is /-ight/. Write the word night on the whiteboard, chalkboard, or magnetic board. Show students how you can remove the n and change it to an r to make the word right. Instead of saying the letters as you change them, you will want to emphasize the sounds the letters make. This will help students know what to do when they come to a word they do not know in a text. Other words in the /-ight/ family are light, might, sight, tight, bright, and flight.

7. Involve students in the process of creating new words in each word family and keep the pace of the lesson brisk to maintain student interest.

Session 3

1. Read the book again and show students the chart paper with the second note to Farmer Brown typed by the cows asking for electric blankets for the hens.

2. Have students read the note together as you point to each word on the chart paper.

3. Introduce the words families in the second note, which are /-en/ and /-ow/. Tell students that you will use the words they already know, hens and cows, to make new words. Also, point out that you will be taking the s off the end of each word.

4. Follow the procedure from Session 2 as you write and read the words, and then change the first letter or letters to make new words. Remind students that they can use this same method when they come to a word they do not know when reading or writing. Of course, not all new words can be solved using rimes or word families, but the principle applies to many words. For the /-en/ word family, words include den, men, pen, ten, when, and then. For the /-ow/ word family, words include how, now, brow, chow, and plow.

Note: Avoid making words that may cause confusion for students, especially at the beginning of instruction. For example, avoid the word know because the sound for the /-ow/ rime is not the same as in cow.

5. End this session when student interest is high.

Session 4

1. Read the book again, and show students the chart paper with the third note to the cows and hens typed by Farmer Brown demanding milk and eggs.

2. Move on to the word families in the third note, which are /-ear/ and /-ill/. Words that can be made for the /-ear/ rime include fear, hear, gear, near, and rear. Words that can be made for the /-ill/ rime are fill, hill, pill, chill, drill, grill, skill, spill, and thrill.

Session 5

1. Read the book again, and show students the chart paper with the fourth note to Farmer Brown typed by the cows, asking for electric blankets in exchange for the typewriter.

2. Continue to point to each word on the chart paper as you read the large print, modeling fluency and expression. Depending on time, reread notes one, two, and three also.

3. The word family in the fourth note is /-end/ as in the word send. You may want to use a different medium in this session to maintain students' interest. For example, if you have been using a whiteboard in the previous sessions, you might try using a magnetic board this time to show how changing the first letter can make new words. Words for the /-end/ rime include bend, fend, mend, tend, and spend.

Session 6

1. Read the book again, and show students the chart paper with the fifth note to Farmer Brown typed by the ducks asking for a diving board for the pond.

2. The words family words in this note are pond and quite. Words with the /-ond/ rime include bond and fond. Words with the /-ite/ rime are bite and kite.

3. Finish this session by having students reread all five notes with fluency and expression, as you have modeled and they have practiced in previous sessions.

4. Post the five notes in the classroom for students to use as a resource when they are reading and writing. Students should be able to read the word family words in each note and can try using these words in their own writing.

5. At the end of this session, allow students independently or in pairs to visit the Magnetic Letter/Word Game that you created in advance of the lesson to practice pairing and reading beginning sounds and rimes (see Preparation, 4). This may also be a good exercise for students to do at home with their parents or caregivers.


  • Include the book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type in the classroom library for students to read or look at on their own. Students may be especially eager to reread the five typed notes in the book.

  • Have students reread the five notes from the book, written in large print on chart paper. Include a pointer for students to point to the words as they read them.

  • Invite students to the chalkboard or whiteboard, and have them change the beginning letter of a known word family word to make and read a new word. Circulate and provide assistance as necessary.

  • Access the PBS teaching unit for Click, Clack, Moo to find other teaching strategies that you might use with this book. A few online games may also be of interest.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Much of the assessment for these lessons will come from teacher observation. Many students will grasp the concept of rime or word families after being shown several times. Students who are having difficulty may need to work on orally rhyming words or may need to firm up their knowledge of letter-sound association so that they can easily exchange the sound of the first letter to make new words in a word family.

  • Another way to assess students' understanding of word families is to invite individual students to the chalkboard or whiteboard to create and read new words by changing the first letter.

  • During small-group reading instruction and independent writing, remind students of this new decoding strategy when they come to a word they do not know. Observe whether students are able to use their new knowledge to decode or spell unknown words during authentic reading and writing tasks. Reinforce the concepts learned during this lesson during these authentic literacy experiences.