Knowing how to teach CVC words can mean the difference between students grasping the concept quickly or needing extra time. Here’s how to do it!
Learning to read is a series of steps, and one of the all-important first steps is decoding CVC words. Check out these tips and tricks to make learning these words easy and fun.
What Are CVC Words?
CVC is an acronym for consonant-vowel-consonant. This refers to the letter pattern in a three letter word. The vowels are, of course, a, e, i, o, and u. The consonants are all other letters.
So a CVC word starts with a consonant, opens up to a vowel sound, and closes with another consonant. These are often the first “real” words a child learns to read: cat, pig, hen…and so on.
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When to Teach CVC Words
Before you tackle how to teach CVC words, you need to consider the when. The first step in beginning reading is recognizing and naming the letters. Your child should be able to identify the letters with confidence.
The next step involves teaching the sounds of the letters. This is the beginning of something called phonemic awareness, the ability to string individual sounds–or phonemes–into words.
Your child does not need to know every sound a letter can make. Don’t worry about teaching both the hard and soft “C” (think carrots and celery). Teach the basic sounds of the consonants and the short vowel sounds for a, e, i, o, and u.
Once your child can look at the letter b and say the sound, she is ready to begin CVC words.
How to Teach CVC Words Simply
Your child does not need to begin formal reading instruction to learn CVC words. The best way to teach these words is through play. Turn reading into a fun activity.
Phonemic awareness is a neurological step that each child will reach at a different time. If you clothe learning with play, you can wait for that mental click without the child feeling defeated that they aren’t progressing in some official reading program.
If you used three-dimensional letters to teach the alphabet, don’t store those away! You can use those letters to teach your child how to read CVC words. Keep out the fridge magnets, puzzle pieces, alphabet blocks, and foam letters.
Place the letters before the child separately. Ask him to name the sounds. Now push the letters together. Tell him, “Now we are going to blend those sounds together into a word. Listen as I string the sounds together.”
Then say the word slowly in one long breath as you run your finger under the letters. Don’t chop the words into separate sounds; make them one long, continuous word (as if you are saying the word in slow-mo). Now let your child try, while you run your finger under the word. When he has mastered this, he can run his finger under the word and read it–success!
Make teaching cvc words Fun
You can form CVC words anywhere and with different letter manipulatives.
- Foam letters (even bath letters)
- Magnetic letters on the fridge or a magnet board
- Sandpaper letters
- Alphabet blocks
Once your child has mastered this, you can move on to paper letters. Print letters on sturdy cardstock so they will last. Try these games:
Play Word Match
Assemble the end of a word (such as “at”) and give the child several beginning letter possibilities. Let her try sounding out the word with whichever letter she selects (making the word hat, bat, or cat).
The Weirdest Word
Make a pile of consonants, a pile of vowels, and another pile of consonants. Take turns selecting a letter from the first, second, and third piles to form a nonsense CVC word. Who can make the weirdest, silliest-sounding word?
Name the CVC Family
Assemble several of your child’s favorite stuffed animals or dolls (or draw a picture of a family of people, ducks, monsters, etc.) and have your child read some CVC names and assign them to a character: Bob, Jen, Kim, Ken, Jim, Deb, Ben, Cal, and Max are some options.
Once your child can decode and blend CVC words, she is a reader! You can now start a formal beginning reading program with confidence.
CVC Word List
Here is a list of CVC words for your game play (aka disguised reading instruction time). They are sorted by short vowel sound.
How to Teach CVC Words to Make it Fun
Now you know how to teach CVC words: Approach them playfully.
Be consistent (do a little each day, about 5-15 minutes depending on your child’s attention span).
Most of all, be patient and relaxed. Your child will follow your cues.
By making CVC words fun, you open the gateway to a lifelong love of reading.