CVC words for kindergarten can be taught in an engaging and fun way! In fact, teaching students to read CVC words is one of my favorite strategies to teach. You will see that lightbulb turn on and as you know, that is one of the best feelings an educator can get! In this blog post, you will learn how to plan effective literacy centers, gather examples of cvc words, and find a fun surprise to help your students practice letter sounds! I’ll be sharing my favorite ways to tackle everything from decodable readers to cvc word lists.
Everything you will read about is based on the Science of Reading approach and research-based best practices. After reviewing this blog post, you will have a toolkit of different activities to help young learners build confidence in their abilities to read those first words! You’ll also find a free download of hands-on activities at the end of the post!
What does CVC mean?
The term CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant words. The vowel is always a short sound. Hop is an example of a CVC word. These are different from CV (consonant vowel) or even CVCe (Consonant vowel consonant – sneaky e) words which will have an e that changes the initial vowel sound. Before you even begin to think about sight words or how to teach high frequency words, you need to make sure students can confidently build and read CVC words. I have taught many grade levels but my time in kindergarten was especially fun. Kindergarten kids are at such an exciting time to build a strong foundation and strengthen reading skills. I love to see students light up when they realize they are actually cracking the code and reading a new word!
Where do I begin?
I always like to start the year by explicitly teaching students to say the sound first and then recognize the letter names that spell each sound. You read that right! Based upon over 30 years of Science of Reading research, it is best to phrase your question by saying “What letter spells /f/ or /t/ instead of asking what sound the letter makes. Simply put, letters don’t MAKE sounds, they spell sounds. When students have the ability to spell vowel and consonant sounds they are ready to really dive into CVC word work.
A deep dive into phonics instruction is best. It is essential that students can segment words into a beginning, middle or medial sound, and final sound.
There are many different ways to teach students to read a three-letter word. When they have a good understanding of short vowel sounds and all of the individual sounds, they will be ready to start cvc word activities.
(Head to one of these blog posts If you want to read more about how I use a Sound Wall and Science of Reading strategies with my students to teach them essential phonics skills!)
Although we tackle this in whole group as well, I love to place students in differentiated literacy centers. I am able to really assess their understanding, practice different cvc words with the ones who are ready, and give time for students to have plenty of independent practice. Sometimes they are looking at an anchor chart and using magnetic letters to spell new words. Other times they are completing the folder tasks and digital games that we will talk more about in just a second. Either way, small groups are a great way to practice reading CVC word cards or nonsense words.
Students BEG to play these movement games. Of course, I know that a CVC Word Game is an easy way to strengthen their abilities to read every word! I love to play this game when we have just a few minutes before lunch or going to a specialty class. I ask my young readers to sit on the carpet. Then, I pull out our themed container of letter cards, short vowel words, numbers, or whatever skill we are practicing. I call individual students to the front and we all sing a cute little rhyme together. If the student pulls a picture card, they have to do a little dance, wobble in a circle, or mime the activity. If they pull a card with a CVC pattern, I am ready to differentiate the lesson. I can ask the student to tell me the beginning sound, read the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, think of a word with a similar ending sound, and so on. It’s such an easy and fun way to practice a variety of skills!
You can learn more about these games by heading here!
What are nonsense words exactly? Let’s take a closer look. Nonsense words are words that follow the typical phonics rules but they are not actual words. Sometimes we refer to them as silly words or pseudo-words. They are basically parts of a whole word. For example, zeb would be a nonsense word. The middle vowel is short and the beginning and end of the word are pronounced as they normally would be. When students are reading nonsense words, they should use basic phonemic awareness skills to read the word pattern.
If we divide the word carpet into parts, we would have “car” and “pet”. Both of these word parts are real words. However, most words can not be broken into real words. Therefore, it is extremely helpful for students to be able to confidently read each part of a word – nonsense or not!
Nonsense words have bene popular and unpopular depending on which curriculum you are using. According to research, the ability to decode word parts is essential so nonsense words can be very helpful with this!
To practice nonsense words, you can simply write the words on a whiteboard during a small group lesson and ask students to read them. I also like to give each student a whiteboard or allow them to write on my wipeable kidney shaped table. I will say a nonsense word and they have to segment the word in order to write each sound in Elkonin boxes or blank spaces.
Elkonin Boxes are also referred to as sound boxes. You may have seen teachers use tokens and a magnetic wand to work on segmenting and blending simple words. I like to begin with empty sound boxes. As the student segments the words, they move a token, mini-eraser, letter, or other small object into the box.
Students can also press a ball of play dough down as they read each sound. I’ve worked with many students on this skill and this idea is always a huge hit! Think about the word cat. As the student says /c/ they push down a ball of play dough in the first box. When they say the medial vowel sound or short /a/ in this instance, they push down the middle ball of play dough. They finish by saying the final sound and pressing that ball down. There is something about adding in that additional fine motor practice that makes this so fun!
You can read more about those centers here!
These Look-Alike Clip Cards for students are so much fun! It’s a good idea to practice these with students first but then they can work on them independently. You will be sneaking in essential fine motor skills too!
I love building simple phonics rules with these cards. My middle child was the queen of guessing words when she was little. Long before I had really researched the Science of Reading, I taught her to look at pictures to guess what was happening on the page. She would happily sit beside Aniston and I while we practiced reading skills. She would jabber on and on about what she thought was happening in her stack of books. Unfortunately, this practice can backfire. Heidi had a huge vocabulary and when she was totally able and ready to decode CVC words, she preferred guessing instead. Both of my daughters were prone to guess a much more difficult vocabulary word instead of using phonics skills to figure it out!
Look-Alike mats and clip cards prevent this. They HAVE to pay attention to each letter in order to get them correct. These Look-Alike CVC Word mats and clip cards are a great place to start!
Working with cvc word families helps students blend the middle and final sound of the word. This is a great strategy that aligns with the Science of Reading approach. For example, if students are working on the -at family, they will become experts at adding the beginning sound to each word. After all, it is easier for students to read /b/ and blend it with “at” then it would be to blend all 3 sounds at once.
As a kindergarten teacher and when teaching other grade levels, I have always loved to use folder games to practice building CVC words and I typically divide those up according to the respective word family. If you click on the photo above, you will see my word family sets. I also have CVC sets like the one you see below!
At the beginning of my teaching career, I spent two years as a fourth grade teacher. I then looped up with most of my students to be their 5th grade teacher. I really enjoyed having that group of students twice! However, I knew my heart was with lower grades. When a position opened for kindergarten, I jumped at the chance!
A 5th grade team member gave me some folder games from her previous years as a first grade teacher. These games had been used for years and years. Some of them had to be taped back together but they were a major hit with my students. I loved to use them with early finishers, for morning work, and students even picked them out during indoor recess!
I got right to work creating hundreds of games for my students to enjoy. With the CVC sets, you will work on individual phonemes and building those decodable words. They are divided by vowels, but the bundle is the best value. I just updated all of these games so now is a great time to grab those! (You may be interested in my nursery rhyme or fairy tale sets. They are teacher favorites!)
In fact, I’ve decided to gift newsletter subscribers with two adorable games to play! Head here to make sure you are on the list and grab 2 fun freebies to try with your kids!
I’m extremely careful when it comes to screen time for my kindergarten students. My husband and kids are often rolling their eyes and giggling about how when Mom comes in the room, the tv WILL be turned off! In fact, my kids don’t have any kind of tablet at home!
With that said, I do think that Boom Cards are extremely user-friendly and can serve a purpose. They are basically the folder games in a digital format. I like that the Boom Cards are self-checking. While I’m working with a small group of ESL or first grade students, I can have some of my other students practicing cvc activities using the many Boom Card games I’ve created. These were popular during the pandemic, but they are still a great way to practice a variety of phonological awareness skills. Every Boom Card game I’ve created includes sound and kids love them!
If you are interested in trying Boom Cards with your students, you can click here to go directly to the Boom website to grab them there.
If you prefer to use TPT, you can click any of these links:
- CVC Words
- Fairy Tales (Teacher & Student Favorite!)
- Nursery Rhymes (They love these too!)
- Color by Code
- High Frequency Word Practice
- All Boom Cards by Pencils to Pigtails
I also created Google Slides versions of the games. Teachers who use Google Classroom to assign lessons, find these helpful. These also include sound although I’ve had teachers report that it is a little more difficult to get the sound to play on these when using an ipad. (To get around this, don’t use the Google Slides app and make sure you are in edit mode instead of present mode!)
Grab those here:
I’m thrilled to share that Deedee Wills and I have teamed up on an amazing new resource that will help your students with oral blending and CVC words. I’ve been using the activities with my students and girls at home and we love it already!
No matter what phonics program you use, you will find this writing center helpful. It is completely aligned with the Science of Reading approach! You will find picture cards to hang in front of students. Each printable worksheet includes writing practice and has matching cards. There are so many activities to choose from to strengthen important skills. I just know your students will love this center too. You will LOVE how they are practicing a variety of skills with each downloadable worksheet. This one resource covers your writing center for the entire version and comes in color as well as a black and white version. You can learn more about this center here.
I’m thrilled to share these exclusive newsletter subscriber freebies with you! You will get 2 sets: Silly Yetis and Start Your Engines!
Your kids are SURE to love them!
You can also grab a free Rainy Day folder game in my TPT store!
Okay, how are you feeling? Excited? I know that you will love practicing CVC words with your children! Leave me a comment or click the “Contact Me” button to let me know how you work on these with your kids or if the freebies will help!
Happy Teaching and Parenting today friends!