Is it time to teach CVC words again? Consonant-vowel-consonant words are some of the first words new readers and spellers learn, because they are relatively easy to segment and blend. These skills are critical for reading and spelling, and there are lots of ways to teach CVC words with plenty of practice—all while keeping it fun!
Fun ways to teach CVC words
Start to teach CVC words by having students listen for sounds. Start with the initial sound, which is usually easiest for students to hear. Once they can identify that sound, start working on end and middle sounds. Try drawing out the word, emphasizing each sound. For example, say mat as mmmm — aaa — t.
You can even turn this into a game by giving directions such as Come sss–i–t on the mmmmm–aaa–t.
Another game that uses listening for segmenting sounds is I-spy. Simply choose an item in the classroom, such as a mug. Then say: “I spy with my little eye a m-u-g.” If students are starting to get blending with the stretched out sounds, start segmenting each sound without overemphasizing. Ask students if they know what you spied. They should blend the sounds together to figure out the word.
One prep tip for using I Spy to teach CVC words: identify ahead of time items in the room that are CVC words, such as hat, mug, pen, rug, or map. You can even place items in the room before the lesson.
To give students practice segmenting too, they can take turns “spying” the item. Make it easy by placing a number of CVC word objects in the center of your circle or at the front of the room.
More games to teach CVC words
Another easy game you can use to teach CVC words that doesn’t take a lot of materials is Sound Change Train. You can use the board in your room or a small white board. Write a CVC word on the board, such as map. Then circle or underline one of the sounds in that word.
Hand the board to a student or call one up to change the underlined sound to a new one to make a new word. The student should write that word down. For example, if m was underlined, the student might write a number or words such as cap or nap or sap or tap. Circle or underline a sound to be changed in the new word. Keep doing that until everyone has had a turn. If you get to a point where a new word cannot be made, you can create nonsense words and have students practice the sounds or start with a new word.
Board and card games to teach CVC words
You can use classic games like Bingo, Go Fish, and Matching card games for additional CVC words.
To play Go Fish, print out two sets of cards—one with your CVC words on them and one with pictures of these words on them. (If you like, print out two sets, so that students are looking for 4 cards representing the same word—two word cards and two pictures of the word). Each student starts with 5 cards. The other cards are spread out face down in the center of the playing surface. One student asks another for one of the words in their hand. The student either turns over the card with the word or the picture of the word or says, “Go fish.” If the student says, “Go Fish,” the student whose turn it is picks a card from the middle. Once a student gets four of one word, they put the “book” down. The students with the most “books” or word sets at the end of the game wins.
You can use similar cards to play a matching game. Spread the cards out face down on the playing surface. Each student turns over two cards and sounds out the words. If the cards match (or the word matches the picture), the student keeps the pair.
Snakes and Ladders is another classic board game that I’ve adapted to teach CVC word, and beginning readers love it. The Phonics Snakes and Ladder set comes with 2 board games and 16 sets of skill based word cards from the basic code. Word lists include CVC words (divided by sound), and as students advance, you can use the included double consonants, consonant blends, digraphs, and the ‘qu’ sound. Phonics Snakes & Ladders games are perfect for word work centers, whole-class review, small group instruction, or intervention.