What's a CVC word?
CVC words are the building blocks of kindergarten reading and writing. CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant. These are the first words that kids read by decoding, otherwise known as sounding out.
CVC words make sense to kindergarten readers, because they are phonetic and don't have any tricky sounds or rules. Examples of CVC words include Bob, mat, kit, peg, fog. As you read these words you'll notice that each letter makes its phonetic sound; there are no long vowels or tricky digraphs like sh/ch/th. That's why CVC words are the words your child should be reading first.
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When is my child ready to start reading CVC words?
Often parents come to me because their kids know all their letters and letter sounds but they are not reading yet. Though it is helpful to know all your letters before beginning to read CVC words, it isn't necessary. However there are some essential skills that your child must practice before reading that fall under the category of phonemic awareness -being able to manipulate sounds.
Here are the skills your child should be able to do in order to begin reading CVC words:
Understand that letters have sounds and that words are made up of sounds
Know the sounds of at least 10 consonants quickly
Know 1-2 vowel sounds quickly (recommend starting with "a")
Isolate the beginning sound of a word (as in, cat starts with the /c/ sound)
Has practice blending sounds together (/c/ /a/ /t/ blends into the word cat.).
I also want to include that reading CVC words is a kindergarten skill, so kids are usually around 5-6 years old as they begin this skill. There is no rush in getting them there early! If kids show any early interest in literacy before this time, by all means, but there is no pressure for your child to be able to do these skills in preschool.
The Essential Prereading Skill that will help your child read CVC words easily:
I mentioned above that kids need practice with blending. Blending is a phonemic awareness activity. This means it gives children practice manipulating sounds. The great news is that you can practice it at home with your child very easily and without using the alphabet. Blending is the ability to take sounds and put them together to form a word.
A quick game I play in the car with my kids helps them become natural blenders. It's called, "Guess the Animal."
Me: Guess the animal - /go/ /rilla/
Me: Guess the animal - /d/ /o/ /g/
Me: Guess the animal- /p/ /i/ /g/
If you're just starting out with blending, I would start with the longer animal names before CVC animals because those are easier to pick out by hearing: turkey, alligator, gorilla, etc. You don't need to segment every single letter, you can even say "Guess my animal /a/ /ligator/" This gives kids practice blending the beginning sound onto the word.
As they get better, they can move onto the CVC words. Some animal CVC words are: pig, dog, cat, rat, bat, ram, fox, hen.
What CVC words do I start with?
Usually the first vowel sound kids learn is a, so any CVC words with A in the middle are usually the one's that kids will learn to read first. Here is a free word list for "CVC words a."
You can use this list of CVC a words to use in games and activities you do with your child where you pick the words they're working on. I call these "target words." The more exposure and repetition our little readers can get with these words, the more easily they'll recognize and read them in the future.
Books with CVC words:
My favorite book series for beginning readers that I recommend to every family are the Bob books. Their books are truly decodable, so there are no tricky words that make kids confused. The first books in this set are all "CVC words a" books, meaning the first few books only have CVC words that have "a" in the middle. Of the hundred plus children I've taught to read, every single one read the book "Mat" as their first book, including my daughter.
I cannot recommend the BOB series enough because the books are simple, short, and not to many words on the page. For little kindergartners who get distracted easily or feel overwhelmed by many words on the page, this is the perfect choice. The simple, short stories allow them to actually finish reading a book by themselves, and it's a HUGE moment for any child to read their first book.
How do I practice CVC words without worksheets?
Coming right up! I know so many people end up here because they're searching for CVC worksheets, and though they have their place in the world, it's not on my site. I am true believer in making learning fun through activities and games that let the learning jump off the page and into real life. The worksheets can be for follow up, assessment, or maybe some busy work, but I know that learning through games and hands-on activities really make those new skills stick in our kids' brains!
Here are my favorite NON-WORKSHEET CVC word activities for Kindergarten:
Where could it be? Read the word and lift the cup.
This game had my little reader rolling in the aisles with laughter as we sounded out real and silly CVC words.
Find out how this game gets your kindergartner moving, having fun, and reading all at once. For beginners try doing this with one word family at a time. Add on other CVC word families, as your child gets more comfortable sounding out words.
4. CVC Word Family Duplo Sort
Write CVC words in from 3 different word families on dot stickers, then place the stickers on the Duplos. Hide the Duplo bricks around the house and have your little one find them. Then comes the reading part. Each brick must be sorted with the ones in its word family. Once all the bricks in the family are reunited, build a tower with them to complete the game.
I love this simple kindergarten spelling game from MissKindergarten.com.
She uses a muffin pan to have children segment CVC words.
Kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com brings this hands on game where kids have to find the beginning sound for each picture to crack the code. Once the pictures are complete, they reveal a CVC word at the bottom. How fun!