In a previous post, I talked about sight words; what they are, when to start teaching them, and how to effectively work with a variety of learning resources. For the most part, the major points of that post also apply to teaching CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. It bears repeating that, like sight words, when teaching CVC words, the what, when, and how are just as relevant.
A CVC word is a word that is made up of a consonant, short vowel, and consonant sound, such as cat, bed, tip, hot and rug. The goal is for students to use their knowledge of the individual sounds of each letter and ‘blend’ these letter sounds together, so they are saying the whole word and not three individual sounds. It must be explained, and repeated, that such words have a beginning, middle and ending sound that together create a word.
- Before you begin teaching CVC words, a child must have a grounding in the ABCs and their phonetic associations. When students can confidently manipulate letters and identify their sounds, they are ready to begin learning CVC words.
- Like sight words, CVC words can be exercised using flash cards, word-building activities, games, orthographic practice, and in text reading exercises.
It is also important to note that, whatever the age of your students, reading fluency will only come with practice. Understanding the steps children work through to understand word constructs and words in context are necessary to determine readiness and track progress.
As you set out to teach CVC words, be prepared with a ready supply of flash cards, games, reading and writing activities, and plenty of review exercises!
CVC Flash Cards
Flash cards are a mainstay for many teachers and can be used in so many ways other than flipping through deck after deck of vocabulary words. Check out my 41 Flash Card Activities if you’re in need of a refresh with your flash card routines.
Sorting, matching, ordering, and discovery are the most fundamental components in many flash card activities. When working with CVC words, it is best to have cards with vocabulary on the front and back to expand their use. Playing games with flash cards like races, relays, Q&A circles, slap games, missing cards, and game board type games, places the emphasis on activities that employ vocabulary rather than a focus on word drilling.
Game boards and card games will really engage your kids when reviewing CVC words. Laminating boards means they’re always ready and less prone to destruction. Boards, plus tokens, dice, and a few rules, and kids will forget that they are reviewing vocabulary! Even though the basic function may be the same across many games, it’s the engagement and the opportunity to practice in stimulating activities that brings about the most meaningful learning.
CVC Reading & Writing
Orthographic exercises that employ reading, word building, and writing activities are perfect for fluency practice and accountability. Worksheets, combined with task cards and other types of manipulatives, make repetition less arduous and more fun. Word puzzles, exit tickets, write-round-the-room activities, and interactive notebooks are just a few of the teaching resources that keep kids engaged while learning to spell. I always look for ways to bring CVC word practice together with coloring, counting, graphing, spinners, dice, random choice, and memory skills, for activities that hold students’ focus on a variety of levels.
Making Sentences with CVC Words
Once students are comfortable with building and reading words and can recognize them in text, making sentences and understanding meaning in context are the next steps toward reading comprehension. Creating sentences with image and word flash cards is a great way to get kids to review learned words and learn the most rudimentary rules for sentence constructions. Here, using flash cards, not as a means to drill, but a way of exploring new connections, gives students a creative way to build on their understanding. Try keeping these kinds of flash cards available to students outside of lessons to see what kind of sentences they create on their own. You might even hear them teaching each other!
It can’t be stressed enough that learning the concept of word, sounding out the phonemic components, setting learned words into sentences, and then deriving meaning from sentence context are skills that have to be taught, will occur in that order, and must be practiced for children to achieve reading fluency.
CVC Exercise & Review
One of my biggest pet peeves with many textbook series is the lack of quality exercise and review pages. Teachers are too often forced to create their own worksheets to fill in these gaps. For this reason amongst others, I created a phonics series that focuses solely on reading and writing with an abundance of exercise and review pages. I also made sure to include simple explanations, step-by-step exercises, rigorous practice pages where I could track student progress, and lots of coloring opportunities. You can learn more about this series here.
I will finish this post by quoting from Sight Words: What, When, & How:
“As you move from ABCs through emergent reader activities, you’ll want to have reading goals in place. As a teacher, it is important to be able to recognize when a student has a command of the sounds of the alphabet, achieves the concept of word, is displaying rudimentary reading ability, and finally, capable of decoding and deriving meaning from connected text. These concepts must be developed in this order and practiced to achieve reading fluency. The habits that you build into the children’s learning activities will help them to acquire new words more quickly, build on their knowledge base to infer meaning, and progress more confidently in their studies.”
Teaching kids CVC words sets the stage for future reading comprehension and language acquisition. As you move kids from relying solely on their ears and memory to reading and writing, be prepared with a variety of tools to make learning enjoyable, engaging, and productive.
If there are activities that you use in class that are not listed here, help a teacher out and leave a comment!
As always, best of luck in your classes!
Kinney Brothers Publishing