Writing CVC Words: 3 strategies to help your students become CVC Word Masters

Writing CVC Words

Post Promise: Within this piece, I will provide you with three strategies that will bridge your students from letter/sound practice to CVC-word writing masters. If you are in that transition within your own classroom (or have 1st or 2nd Grade students who need intervention in this area) this information can help you get them there.  Don’t miss the free CVC Routine Start-Up Kit I’ve included at the end of this post. With this simple tool, you can implement these strategies as soon as today.

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CVC Word Masters

The journey of a growing reader is a long, winding road of different skills and needs. Each child is a mystery that needs investigating- a package that comes equipped with their own strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. Sometimes it feels completely overwhelming to be responsible for the single-most important skill of their life, but someone has to do it folks. 😱🤩

Reading and writing CVC words is a big milestone in this journey. The transition from letter/sound fluency to actually decoding and writing REAL WORDS is an exciting time for kiddos and Teachers alike. It’s a light-bulb moment for everyone- suddenly its hits you- these kids can READ. (Well, not necessarily, but if feels that way because this is a BIG STEP in that direction.) So that is why we work so hard at getting them there.

The truth is though, we don’t just need to get them there– we need create MASTERS of the CVC word. Don’t believe me? Ask Mr. Common Core Standard RF.K.2.D.

Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.1 (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.) 

They need to be so comfortable with those 3 letter words, they can manipulate them in every way. The question now is, how do we get them there? How do we take these sweet little people from letters and sounds to blending and writing words? It could be a tricky process- but these three research based strategies are a tried and true place to start. Be consistent with all three of them and you’ll find this process to be fairly easy.

Strategy #1: Make it a Routine!

cvc word strategies

Yes, I’m a routine fanatic and I don’t care who hates me for it. I love routines: they make me feel safe, happy and accomplished. Research says that when we do something every-day- we become experts in that area. Just like my husband has become an expert and forgetting to take out the trash (he practices that most every day), we want our student to become experts at these 3-letter words.

So, if our standards tell us our students need to become experts of the CVC word, shouldn’t we make a habit of practicing this skill every day? Yes! So…. make it a Learning Routine.  I have so many of them in my classroom schedule and they are irreplaceable to me.  CVC Word-Writing has a spot in my schedule without fail  until students are so skilled in it- it becomes obsolete. (At that point, I swap it out for a CVCe or Sentence Writing-Routine of the same structure.)

Making a CVC word routine is simple. Here’s how to do it:

First, shift your mindset. Realize that you NEED to do this every-day and that by doing so, you will give all of your learners opportunity to feel successful in this area.

Next, write it on your daily schedule. If you write it there- you’ll have to do it. I allot less than 10 minutes for my CVC word-writing routine during our morning so don’t say “I don’t have time for it.😒”

Finally, gather and organize your materials.  (The CVC Routine Start-Up Kit is all you need here!) Keep this simple and teach your students what is expected of them every day. Teach the procedure- modeling and practicing it extensively in the beginning until it become routine.

Do all of this and you’ve successfully implemented a CVC Word-Writing Routine. Go you! 😎

Strategy #2: “I do, we do, you do.”

cvc word strategies

I once heard this piece of pedagogy at a district PD about middle-school writing that I had no choice but to attend. It seemed so irrelevant to me as a Kindergarten Teacher then. (Actually, that is the only thing I remember about those 3-hours of torture.) Years later, after so many experiences and trials to guide my students to success- I completely realize its usefulness in my own position. Every teacher needs to understand and utilize this model.

This concept is all about how we deliver instruction. It indicates (in very easy terms) that the modality of our teaching needs to be balanced between three parts. Our students need ample access to all three forms of these modes because, when accomplished, scaffolding happens naturally.

Mastering CVC words is no different. When working with our students on this skill, we should aim to include all three modes of instruction:

  • Teacher modeling (I do)
  • Guided practice (We do)
  • Independent Practice (You do)

How do you hit all three of those in your CVC routine? That’s easy!

“I Do” —- Begin your new routine by doing it yourself. Show your students the strategy you use to segment and write a CVC word and then model what it looks like to be proficient in this area. Once your students are comfortable with the routine- you won’t need to do this as often. They will come to understand that you learned to do it- so they want to do it too!

“We Do” —- After you’ve modeled- do it all together. This modality is really important because it helps students at all levels feel comfortable and successful.  It also lets them see their peers working to reach the same outcome which can  motivate them at a deeper level. This is when you provide helpful direction to those who aren’t getting it.

“You Do” — Now, let’s see what they can do independently. Send them to work on their own, circulating the room to see who has it and who doesn’t. This part is so important because it is a key time for you to investigate to see who is hitting the mark and who isn’t. Beyond that, it gives students who do feel confident in this area a chance to show-off their skills and building their confidence in the classroom.

If you are hitting all three of the modalities, your kids are more likely to develop whaterver skill it is you are presenting to them.

Strategy #3: Add Movement

cvc word strategies

I’m such a broken record- but the truth is- I never want to be fixed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Movement is SO important to our little learners and it truly is one of the TOP engagement strategies in existence. If you want them engaged- add movement. Educational research around this strategy is MASSIVE and in a nutshell, this is what is entails: If your students aren’t  moving to learn- you, my friend,  are drowning in untapped teaching potential.

So, how do you add movement to your CVC word routine? Easy-peasy lemon squeezy! There are so many different methods to doing this that you can find online- but here is how I do it. (Note: If none of this makes sense, I advise you to check out the video instead.)

Stretch the Word

As part of my routine, I teach students to say the word slowly  to stretch it out. This is important in helping students hear the three individual sounds in the word. In the video of my “Daily Write-It Routine, you’ll see my arm swoop down slowly indicating to students that it needs to be stretched out.

Segmenting & Blending with Fingers

I love manipulatives and all- but thankfully our students come equipped with great tools that we don’t have to pass out each time- THEIR FINGERS. (Little fingers are a gift the Lord gave to Primary teachers everywhere.) So, let’s put those little gifts to work.

teacher quotes little hands

When introducing my word-writing routine, I teach students to segment CVC words with three fingers. In my language with them- I refer to this as “finger spelling” a word. We only do CVC words at this time SO reinforce the 3-finger concept. “Little Johnny, you only have two fingers up, so you must have missed one of the sounds. Remember, the words we use during this time will always have 3-sounds, so you should use three fingers. “

After segmenting (or breaking apart) the three sounds, I ask them to blend it back with an arm swoop. I swoop it down and re-blend the word they just segmented. Finally, we say it “fast, like a word” and do a quick bend in all three fingers indicating all three sounds are going back together.

Sound Check

Once students have written down the word and we review it together, I ask them to do three “SOUND CHECKS” of the word they’ve written. This really aids them in making important sound-symbol connections and encourages them to correct their own misspellings (if they catch the mistake.)

A SOUND CHECK goes like this:

  • Students place their finger under each letter, making their sounds.
  • They blend the sounds with a swoop of the finger under the word.
  • They use their finger to do a quick swipe across, saying it “fast, like a word.”

In my CVC routine, I require students to do 3-sound checks for each word they write. This sounds redundant but it is wonderful for building fluency in segmenting and blending words.

You may find other ways to incorporate movement into your own CVC Word-Routine, but here is a great place to start!

I want to help you get started!

If you know me at ALL by now, you know I love helping (a little too much, even.) I know all Teachers can’t afford to buy my complete CVC Words Writing Routine on TpT- so I’ve created a special freebie to go along with this post. This FREE Download (that you can grab in the form below) has all that you need to get going for the next 15 DAYS. That is a whole lot of explicit instruction for no cost to you.

Here is what’s included:

cvc word strategies free activities

Get your FREE CVC Routine Start-Up Kit HERE!

Now that you have a handle of all three strategies, you are ready my friend to KICK BUTT in the classroom. Your kiddos will become CVC Word Masters before you know it. Enter your info in the form and I’ll shoot you an email with your starter kit inside. ❤ (If you don’t find it right off, check your TRASH and SPAM.)

Teacher friend, please CHECK IN!

Now it’s your turn to spill the beans! What awesome CVC strategy do you use? Can you help a teacher out here? We’d love to see your expertise dropped down in a comment below. We’re in this together, friend. Can’t wait to here from you!


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