We’ve been introducing one phoneme (letter sound) at a time with out “sss is for sounds” series, and this week I wanted to take a break from learning letter sounds to explore the concept of CVC words.
CVC words are integral to any pre-reading program and they have a special importance in the Montessori Method, as they are the first step from knowing the letter sounds to sounding out simple words. The first stage of reading, the pink series, is composed of only CVC words and can be started as soon as children have a firm letter sound (phonemic) awareness.
CVC words are mostly consonant-vowel-consonant words, such as pig or run, that are easy to sound out and contain a short vowel sound; there are also VC words such as “it,” “is,” “ax,” etc, that I would teach along regular pink series words.
“CCVC” and “CVCC” words are often included in CVC sheets and activities, and are very similar to CVC words except they begin or end with simple letter blends, like flap or bend. In the Montessori Method, CCVC words are taught in the “blue series” following the pink series.
CVC words are incredibly rewarding for children to work on, as they allow them to experience and understand the transformation of simple sounds into words. CVC words are the first step to unlocking the mysteries and wonders of the English language, and while many teachers and parents wait until children have a firm grasp of all letter sounds and blends, I decided to introduce simple CVC words early so that the children could understand why we’re learning all of these letter sounds, and to act as an intrinsic motivation to continue working on our phonemic awareness.
I ensured that the children had a firm grasp of two vowels and three consonants, to give us a variety of CVC words to work with. (With s, a, t, i, and m, for example, we can spell: sat, sit, mat, mitt, miss, Sam, Tim, Matt.) I prepared a variety of materials to work with in exploring simple CVC words, but just one activity — or a set of Bob books— would be perfect. The key is to offer something hands-on that your child will be attracted to working with that will also provide some control of error.
An interesting element of CVC words is that they are easily memorized and are thus most effortlessly converted to long-term memory, so children can learn (and remember) the physical representation of the word and the sound at the same time, resulting in deep semantic coding; that physical representation can also be two-fold: the written word, as well as a picture or object representing that word.
On Friday, I will share with you the various activities we used to learn some simple CVC words, and for now I’ll share my free printable list of CVC words — please comment with any that might be missing!
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