Learning how to read marks the start of a lifelong skill, beginning with mastering the alphabet and advancing to blending and reading CVC words. An important milestone of reading is the transition from recognizing individual letters to seamlessly blending consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words. In this blog post, I will share how to bridge the gap between letter recognition to reading CVC words and beyond! Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can help your students progress from learning letters to CVC words.
Mastering Letter Recognition
Before diving into blending CVC words, it's essential to ensure that learners have a solid foundation in recognizing individual letters. For students to be proficient in letter recognition, they should be able to:
- Recognize both upper and lowercase letters
- Recognize different fonts used in print (think of the various ways to write a or g)
- Be able to name letters by sight quickly and accurately
If your students aren't recognizing at least 50% of the letters in the alphabet, here are a few ways you can practice. Utilize engaging activities such as alphabet games, flashcards, and worksheets to reinforce letter recognition.
Letter recognition is only one small piece of the puzzle to get students to blend. Notice how I mentioned that students need to recognize at least 50% of the letters in the alphabet before moving on. That's because your students may be able to move on to blending faster than you may think. Once students know letters (and sounds) such as m, a, p, s, t, they can start blending!
Introducing Letter Sounds
As you practice letter recognition, you should also introduce the sounds associated with each letter. You can do this easily with flashcards, and practice letters and sounds every single day. For example, show the letter B, and tell your students “The letter b makes the /b/ sound like you hear at the beginning of ball or big.” Then have your students repeat after you or fill in the blank like this, “this is the letter __ ‘b!' It makes the ___ ‘/b/' sound”. This quick daily practice will get your students learning both the letter names AND sounds at the same time!
To practice letter sounds, incorporate phonics activities and games that focus on the sounds of consonants and vowels. Use multisensory approaches, such as associating sounds with gestures or using tactile materials, to enhance understanding. My students always loved sensory bins (like the one shown below), picture sorts, and engaging games during their literacy center rotation.
You can find my Alphabet Letter Recognition and Sounds Unit below that will help you teach your students the letters and sounds in just a few weeks! It includes 6 weeks of multi-sensory phonics lessons focusing on identifying the letters of the alphabet, naming the letter sound, and handwriting. There are assessments, anchor charts, write-the-room activities, worksheets, games, and more!
Shop all Letter Recognition and Sounds Centers, Worksheets, and Lesson Plans here!
Let's move on to the next important step to progress from letters to CVC words.
Building Phonemic Awareness with Oral Blending
Developing phonemic awareness is crucial for successful blending. Your students MUST be able to orally blend sounds to say a CVC word before they can put it onto paper. Oral blending specifically involves the skill of combining individual phonemes to form a complete word. This skill is essential for decoding words and is a significant predictor of a child's early reading success. By mastering oral blending, children can seamlessly transition from spoken language to written text. You can read more about Oral Blending plus activities to try here.
Introduce CVC Words
Once learners are comfortable with individual letter sounds and phonemic awareness, introduce CVC words. CVC words are three-letter words consisting of a consonant, a vowel, and another consonant. The simplicity of these words makes them ideal for early readers as they provide a straightforward introduction to blending sounds and decoding words. Teaching CVC words is essential for developing phonemic awareness, a skill that is fundamental to reading success.
To practice blending CVC words, you can model how to point to each letter and say its sound. I like using dots underneath each letter so they have a spot to place their finger. Say it 2-3 times, getting a little faster and blending the sounds together, until you say the word. Then have the students try it with you, and finally on their own. It's great to do a quick warm-up with just oral blending, then using actual words on a blending line. Through modeling and lots of practice, your students will soon be able to blend CVC words independently.
To learn more about teaching CVC words, check out this post here along with a free lesson plan: How to Teach CVC Words
Practicing CVC Words independently
As learners gain confidence, encourage independent practice to help progress from letters to reading CVC words independently. Utilize hands-on activities like games, picture sorts, and write-the-room activities to continually practice blending and reading CVC Words. My students loved doing board games, puzzles, and cut-and-paste worksheets during ELA centers. Find more ideas to practice CVC words independently here.
If you are looking for done-for-you lesson plans, activities, worksheets, and assessments practicing CVC words, then check out the CVC Words Phonics Unit. It includes everything you need to teach how to blend and spell CVC words in one place.
How to Progress from Letters to CVC Words
Moving from learning letters to blending CVC words is a crucial step in a child's reading journey. By incorporating a combination of engaging activities, interactive games, and exposure to simple reading materials, educators and parents can guide young learners toward reading success. Patience, encouragement, and a sense of joy in learning will pave the way for a solid foundation in reading and literacy.