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CVC Word Reading

Decoding Foundational Literacy Skills Reading Practice

CVC Word Reading

CVC word reading is a major milestone in early elementary.


It is the time in a classroom where we begin to hear students buzzing in books and building their independence as readers.


It is like the moment that gives me all the feels whether I am tutoring or teaching. 


Yet, getting to this point.  The point where kids are doing this work for themselves can seem like a million miles away.

How can we get kids to read cvc words?

What do they need to do before they can read 3 sounds?

How do I know when they are ready?

There is no magical answer, no secret sauce, just good practices

This post is not long, but will cover the following:

1.Prior skills to reading CVC words

2. Decoding words: Sounds in Seconds

3. How to read CVC words

Prior Skills:

Students need to recognize a handful of letters including one vowel. 

For example if you are a teacher using Recipe for Reading the first 4 letters taught are c o a d.

Knowing these, students can build:

cod, cad, dad, doc

The next five letters are: g m l h t

Knowing these students can build:

lot, lad, mat, cat, hat, dog, hog, log, mad...

So, please do not wait until all lowercase letters are mastered and all sounds are known.  

A handful of letters are all you need.

Do not wait, get started.

But not all students are ready at the same time...

That is OK!

During core phonics instruction or reading instruction include all students.  If students are not reading, they are still getting scaffolded and direct instruction in letter sounds.  

If you have an aide, they can pull students during foundational reading time to support their specific letter recognition or sound needs, so that in time they are ready



Decoding is the process of reading words in text. 

So before I jump into whole words, I take some baby steps towards the process.

1. We learn that we follow print and sounds left to right across the page.

Using a phrase like, "We always read from left to right,"  is a great catch phrase to help students recall directionality.

Using visual cues like color dots can also aide in directionality.  Colors like a stop sign: green, go - yellow, slow for the vowel - red, stop at the last sound can help students with reading direction.

2. We learn that letters are symbols that represent sounds.

So often we say letters make sounds.  The English language is made up of symbols and each of those symbols represents a sounds.  


3. Tap, touch or keep engines on across sounds to help us learn to blend.


Many educators prefer and teach using continuous blending.  It is the preferred method of teaching blending.  With that said, I have worked with many students where in tapping was step one and continuous blending is the next level in their reading.  

As the expert, you choose what is right for your class.


Practice tapping or touching each letter while saying the sound.  Here is a quick (less than a minute) video of what this can look like.

Video From: Willow Elementary School, 

This teacher gives minimal directions on how to tap and touch sounds, then blend only giving corrective feedback when needed.  It can be that simple. 

If you are doing this type of work whole group, the students can tap the air left to right, tracking print along with you.  

In the below video, from New Albany Communications, the instructor provides an alternative way to tap through sounds.  The first minute is all you need to really see:


 Continuous Blending

Keeping engines or continuous blending has students hold on to all the sounds as they move through a word. Here is an example of continuous blending by READ Intervention that defines and demonstrates this strategy:




3.CVC word reading practice using a blending board  is a GAME CHANGER!

Blending is a cvc word reading activity to help students build decoding fluency phoneme by phoneme. 

By going sound by sound using a blending board you can give several at bats in practicing using known sounds to read words.  CVC word practice really made a difference for my students.

If you need a blending board here is a link:

CVC Word Reading Practice

Decoding goes beyond a blending board.  

Students must be able to read whole words with AUTOMATICITY.

Automaticity is a fancy way to say within 1-2 seconds.  This part is important.

Fluency grows out of automaticity.

Depending on your learners, this may be a gradual build.  

I am to have students read 20-30 words in about a minute in Kindergarten and first grade. 

It may seem like a lot at first, but make it a cvc word reading activity that you incorporate into your phonics block and it will totally change the vibe.

With you students you can set a timer, track the number of words read each day, graph the number and when you hit milestones like 10, 15, 20 words hold celebrations.  Not only does this incentivize reading, but it build growth mindset.  It also takes minimal prep and materials.

To make reading whole words part of your routine, set yourself up for success by:

Only have children read words with sounds that they have been taught.

I also try to include words with sounds that students have 80% whole group mastery.  That is to say if 5% of kids only know /kw/ or /th/, I may not emphasize CVC words with those sounds just yet.  

Remember the goal here is to practice reading, not check to see if they know these sounds.  So, use your data and choose words that your children have been explicitly taught the sounds.

To help you on this road, I have created a resource that has 250 DECODABLE CVC words that align with Fundations and can be use with students during word reading in your class.

These CVC words are great for whole group, small group and can be put into centers with timers for students to track their own fluency.  

The best part about this resource is there is no cutting involved.  All materials can be printed on perforated business card paper and pulled apart.


Here is me demo'ing how to prep this resource:

Yes, you will need to make wise class based decisions on what cards you need, I can not tell you what is best for your class!  However, having a reusable, not on index card resource is something that makes my teaching heart happy. 


If you do go ahead and purchase this resource, Amazon has the perforated cards in bulk here.


Now, the last step... Super SIMPLE... Just go out there and try!   You got this!


If you have any questions, you know where to find me:

Here at Read Write Grow, on Facebook at Read Write Grow or Ms.Malorie Teachers on the 'Gram





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