cvc words blog post image

Teaching a child to read is one of the most rewarding experiences that a parent or teacher can have. And knowing the process that children use to decode words can help make things easier for you. 

When a child first learns phonics, or letter sounds, they will be able to sound out the individual letters in a word. Then, they’ll usually proceed to blending these sounds. 

Once they are able to read actual words, consistent and continuous practice can help build their confidence. This is where you’ll see the value of introducing short words that they can immediately start decoding, such as CVC words.  

What Are CVC Words?

CVC words consist of three letters that follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern. They are considered the easiest words for beginning readers to start decoding, as they can practice blending three sounds together. So whether you’re teaching children to read or working with ESL students, these words are great starting points for reading in English.

In the English language, vowels are the letters a, e, i, o, and u. They form the core of the syllable, produced by an open vocal tract. The rest of the letters in the alphabet are consonants, and they are formed with the breath partly obstructed.

The exception is the letter y, which sometimes functions as a vowel and sometimes as a consonant. 

The word “mat” is an example of a CVC word because the first letter is m, a consonant, followed by a, a vowel, and ending in t, another consonant. 

The word “moo” is not a CVC word because it starts with the consonant m, but is followed by two vowels, the letter o

CVC words typically also use the short vowel sounds: a as in apple, e as in hen, i as in pig, o as in dog, and u as in bug. This makes them all the more easy for emerging readers to decode, as they don’t have to worry about whether or not they need to sound the vowel differently. 

Important note: Some three-letter words in the English language may follow the CVC pattern but are pronounced differently from how they should when decoded with phonics. These words are treated as sight words, that is, words that a child should know by sight. 

Some examples of these CVC-pattern sight words are: was, put, new, now, saw, and say

How Can You Practice CVC Words?

Practicing CVC words regularly will help your child learn to quickly sound out words. Here are some important notes to remember while practicing:

1. Know your child’s capacity. 

Don’t pressure yourself or your child to read a certain number of words each day, or reach a certain milestone by a set time. Instead, observe your child and go as far as you can each day, pulling back when it gets tiring. 

Sometimes it’s tempting to compare your child to other children you see on social media, but remember that each child learns at their own pace.

On the other hand, make sure you don’t hold your child back by keeping things too easy. Again, observing your child will help you learn their abilities and what they are capable of. 

2. Keep it fun. 

Children learn best in an environment of play. Although reading is considered an academic skill, making it a fun learning experience can spell a big difference in your child’s attitude toward reading.

One way to make reading practice fun is by using flashcards. You can write or print the letters onto two separate cards: one card for all the beginning consonant sounds, and one card for all the vowel-consonant sounds. 

For example, for the -an word family, you can write or print the following letters on their own cards: b, c, f, m, p, r, t, v, and w, and then write or print “an” on another card. Your child can practice by combining the beginning sound to form words like “ban,” “can,” “fan,” and so on. 

3. Stay consistent. 

One important thing to remember about teaching children to read is consistency. Children learn better when they get regular practice. 

Try setting aside some time every day for practice, even as little as 5–10 minutes. Schedule the practice for the time of day when your child is most alert, and make sure you don’t study too long and frustrate your child. 

4. Give your child the opportunity to explore books themself.

While you may want to pressure your child to read, the best way for them to stay self-motivated would be if they find books they’re genuinely interested in. Be sure to have plenty of these within easy reach to inspire them to learn.

Examples of CVC Words 

Although CVC words are relatively simple, sometimes you can run out of ideas about which words your child can practice. The following list should help you: 

Short a sounds

CVC word list short a sound image

Short e sounds

short e sounds word families image

Short i sounds 

short i word families image

Short o sounds 

short o word families image

Short u sounds

short u word families image

Books Using CVC Words 

If you have a kindergartener who’s just beginning to read, CVC words are a great way to get their feet wet and build up their confidence. Once they seem able to decode these words, you can even start letting them read some CVC words in books. 

You can easily find free printable books using CVC words, or you can also make your own. If you decide to go this route, be sure to teach them the sight word “the” at the very least, so you can form more sentences for them to practice. For example, you can form sentences like: 

The fat cat sat on the mat. 

The rat ran to the cot. 

I had a pet cat. 

However, if you don’t have the time or the energy to conjure things up, you may wish to purchase hard copy books. BOB Books are an example of readers that your child can decode, with each book limited by a phonics feature. 

CVC Words for Reading Fluency 

As you continue practicing CVC words with your child, you will soon find that they can quickly read the words, and you can expand to other phonics rules, such as the long vowel sounds, and watch them flourish into a fluent reader!

Be sure to keep it fun, and continue reading books with your child to help them learn while having an enjoyable experience. 

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!


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