Some of the first words kids learn to read are CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Once students know letter sounds, they can start putting them together in words. CVC words are relatively easy to segment and blend, so they are good for early readers and spellers. Because CVC words create the base of putting sounds together to make words, it’s essential to give kids plenty of practice.
And one way to give them plenty of practice is with games. I love to use spelling games because I don’t think you can ever have enough. You’re invited to join me for the spelling game challenge! Here’s how it works: Sign up, and each day, for five days, I’ll email you a new spelling game along with a short explanation on how to use it. So go ahead and bring some fun back into spelling.
12 practice ideas for CVC words
1. Listen for sounds in words
If you’ve been working on initial sounds with students, this is the next logical step. Once children are able to identify the initial sound, move on to try the end and middle sounds. Sun is good to use as you can hold the final sound to emphasize it. Other words that you might like to try could include: bun, man, Tom, nap, sat.
2. Play I spy with my little eye
Try playing ‘I-spy’ with CVC words. Pick an item in the classroom, such as a hat. Then say: “I spy with my little eye a h-a-t.” Your students need to then blend the sounds together to tell you the item.
When you first start out with oral blending activities some of your students may find it hard to hear the word. In that case, hold each of the sounds a little bitter longer and don’t have a pause between each sound. Because many things in your classroom are not CVC words, you may want to come up with a list of words to use for this exercise. Examples may include mat, pen, man, mug, sun, cap, cup, map, and Tim (or another child with a CVC name like Tom, Jen, or Liv).
3. Match the word and picture
Create CVC word cards and matching pictures. Select one word card, point to each sound (saying the sounds as you point) on the word card. Get your students to blend the sounds to tell you the word. Then have a student come to the board and pick the matching picture to go with the word.
4. Make a CVC word wall chart
Start a CVC word chart on your wall. As you introduce new CVC words or students recognize them, add the word to your wall.
5. Find the missing sound
Write CVC words on the board, but leave out one sound. For example, write b __ t. Then say the word, making each sound clear and distinct. Have students fill in the missing sound. You can create a variation on this by using pictures and having students identify the word and then write the missing sounds.
6. Read and write
Make a worksheet of a short list of CVC words you want to practice. Have students read the words, underlining each sound as they say it. Then have them say each sound as they write it. Finally, have them write and say the full word.
7. Have fun with CVC cootie catchers
Cootie catchers (sometimes called fortune tellers or chatterboxes) are a fun way to practice CVC words. Often these homemade paper toys include numbers or colors that show you how to move and open the flaps. In this case, every spot includes a CVC word.
8. Use CVC words fluency boards
Create a fluency board using CVC words. You can target particular sounds (m—man, mop, mat, mug, map) or words students are learning. Time your students for 30 seconds and see how many words they can read in that time. If they finish reading the board, then they read it again until the time is up. Get them to record how many words they read in the time.
9. Delete sounds from CVC words
Many students who have problems with hearing sounds in words will struggle to be able to delete sounds, but it is an important skill. Have students practice saying words by deleting one of the sounds in CVC words. For young children or those who haven’t had much practice with this, start with deleting the initial sound in words. For example, say ‘pat’ without the ‘p’ or say ‘Sam’ without the ‘s’.
10. Substitute sounds
This is a good activity to do after students practice deleting sounds. Work on changing sounds in words to make new words. Try this on small whiteboards (dry erase boards). If each student has a board, it is easy to scan to see if any students are having difficulty.
Ask students to change ‘sat’ into ‘pat’ or ‘Tom’ into Tim. Before they make the new word, discuss which sound they are changing. Is it the first, second or third sound? Then get your students to track which sound has been changed by underlining it.
For example: sat – pat – pit – pig
11. Change the sound
This is a quick activity that plays on the sound substitution practice above. Start by writing on the board a word, such as sit. Then circle or underline one of the sounds in that word.
Select a student to change that sound to a new one to make a new word, then write that word down. For example, if i was underlined, the student might write sat or set.
Again in the new word circle/underline one of the sounds that is to be changed. Continue with circling a sound that needs changing in the word so all of your students get a turn.
12. Play CVC words bingo
Create bingo cards with pictures representing CVC words—or with the actual words themselves. Call out words and have students mark the image or word that matches what you said. The first to fill a row in any direction wins.
For done for you CVC words bingo cards, along with a multitude of other activities and games, check this out: The Complete Phonics Kit.
Over 1100 pages of games and activities ready to download, print and use.
The kit covers CVC words and so much more. You’ll get 6 CVC words packs—including games, cootie catchers, and other printable activities.
And as students progress past CVC words, you get support for digraphs and one sound many spelling words.