How to Teach CVC Words the Right Way

How to Teach CVC Words the Right Way

CVC words are the best type of words to teach beginning readers! They're perfect for building basic decoding skills to help your students become capable readers. Learn how to teach CVC words correctly by following these easy steps!

What is a CVC word?

A CVC word is a three-letter word made up of a: consonant + vowel + consonant

Some examples of CVC words include:

  • cat
  • hat
  • lid
  • ten
  • den
  • sun


CVC word cards


These consonant-vowel-consonant words are special for a few reasons. Firstly, they always have short vowel sounds

Secondly, they also have just one syllable since they have one vowel sound. This is a helpful lesson for students to learn early, before they move onto other letter patterns and syllabification.

Plus, CVC words are typically easy to decode. If your students know their letter sounds, it will be easy to identify the individual sounds in each new word and blend them together.

What skills do students need to learn CVC words?

In synthetic phonics (part of a Science of Reading based approach), we're helping students' brains learn how to read through systematic, explicit phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. 

Since simple CVC words are some of the first words students will ever read, it's important to ensure that students have these necessary pre-reading skills.

  • Letter sound identification, including knowledge of the five short vowels
  • Oral blending skills
  • Oral segmenting skills

How to Teach CVC Words: Step-by-Step

Ready to get started? Below, I'll guide you through how to use phonemic awareness to teach your students CVC words. This structure will build on what they already know, which makes it easier for you and them.

Although there are seven steps below, don't overthink it! It's so much easier than it seems, and you don't need to do everything in one day.

If you're overwhelmed trying to teach phonics following the Science of Reading or want to make it a little easier, don't forget to download my free 250-page phonics handbook Phonics and Bee-yond

It will tell you everything you need to build your students' phonics skills and phonological awareness in no time.

Mrs Learning Bee holding CVC word cards

CVC Lesson Overview

Whilst not necessary, particularly when students are FIRST learning to read and write, you might like to start with a brief mini-lesson about what CVC words are, and record on an anchor chart for easy referencing. This will help students to understand that CVC words follow a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.

  1. Practise oral isolation, segmenting, and blending by following the steps below for a few minutes each.
  2. After that, decode the written CVC words. Incorporate some word-building games to make it fun and engaging.
  3. Invite students to work independently or with a partner to practise their new skills. Ensure that students have been explicitly taught how to play the activities before asking them to engage in independent practice.

As your students develop these foundational skills, you can stretch their skills even further by incorporating phoneme manipulation and making their independent practice more complex.

Step 1: Phoneme isolation

All reading starts with oral language, and students already know these simple 3-letter words. Tap into their existing knowledge by breaking apart each sound out loud.


Let's practice breaking apart the sounds in "hat."

  1. "What's the first sound you hear in hat?" /h/
  2. "What's the last sound you hear in hat?" /t/
  3. "What sound is in the middle of hat?" /a/

Students will typically identify the consonant sounds the fastest. The middle sounds are harder to separate. Practise this routine as a whole class for 1-2 minutes.


word building cards cvc words


Step 2: Blending

This next step is basically the opposite of the last one. Provide students with a word's distinct phonemes (individual sounds) and have them blend them together. 


  1. Say /d/ /e/ /n/ out loud to the whole class as separate sounds
  2. Ask: "Put those sounds together. What word did I sound out?"

Repeat this for 1-2 minutes with new words before moving on.


word blending cvc words with a car


Cars can be a great way to support students as they learn to blend.

Step 3: Segmenting

Once the students have practised their oral blending, move on to segmenting. To do this, say the word and invite them to tap out or write the sounds they hear. 

I recommend using orthographic mapping to help your students encode these words to memory. Give your students a copy of my free printable sound box template in a plastic sleeve for daily practice.

  1. Say or show the word.
  2. Ask students to say the sound each letter makes (the individual phonemes).
  3. Sound out the first letter.
  4. Sound out the middle letter. Remind them that it will be a short sound!
  5. Sound out the final letter.

After students sound out each letter in the word, coach them to put the sounds all together. Since these words are so simple, this is a great way to practise blending.


poppits with cvc words


Poppits can be a great way to support students as they are learning to segment.


  1. Show the word: den
  2. Identify the sounds. /d/ /e/ /n/
  3. Say the whole word.

Like the other skills above, practice daily for 1-2 minutes at a time. These skills are really quick and fun!

Step 4: Phoneme manipulation

Once your students know their CVC sounds, stretch their thinking by inviting them to add, delete, or substitute sounds in the word. This one feels like a brain stretch, but it just requires a little practice every day.

Addition: "What word do you get if you add /m/ to the beginning of /at?/"

Deletion: "What word do you get if you take away /p/ from pin?"

Substitution: "What word do you get if you change the /c/ in cat to /r/?"

swap the sound cvc words
Phoneme manipulation can just be oral, particularly at the beginning. However, once students are ready for it, they may like to do it with written words.

Step 5: Independent Practice

After you've explicitly taught your class CVC words and provided them with opportunities to segment and blend both orally and with the written word, students are ready to practise CVC words independently.

I recommend explicitly teaching these activities with the whole class or in small groups, checking to ensure everyone understands the instructions.

Then, they can work on these fun activities independently in literacy centers. These fun CVC games are also a great alternative to homework.

Especially for young children, make this play as tactile and interactive as possible. Hands-on learning will keep your students engaged and will help them lock in these new literacy skills.

I have dozens of CVC word activities you can use immediately, including word-building mats, task cards, and paid and free games. There are digital and printed tools, so dig into my Freebee Library!

CVC Activity Suggestions


Say it build it write it


say it tap it map it write it cvc words




cvc word chains



cvc word poppits



Roll and Cover CVC words


mystery cvc words
decodable drive cvc word game
real and nonsense cvc words
decodable word building cards for cvc words

Step 6: Decode simple sentences

As students become more and more comfortable decoding short vowel CVC words, offer them some very simple decodable sentences.


I sat on the cat.

Students can read "I" easily. "The" is one of the first high-frequency words (also known as heart words) we teach, whilst 'on' can also be decoded with minimal effort. The two CVC words have the same ending sounds, so once students decode the first one, it will be easy to also decode the second one.

You can make these sentences more complex over time, but this is one of my favourite ways to help students start reading. They'll feel so proud to read their first sentences, too!

Easy CVC Decodable Sentences

Decodable CVC Sentence Mats - First set is FREE!

decodable sentence mats for cvc words

Decodable CVC Sentences Read & Match - First set is FREE!

decodable cvc sentences read and match

Roll a Silly Sentence

roll a silly sentence cvc words

Decodable Sentence Pyramids

cvc decodable sentence pyramids

CVC Sentences Read, Match & Write - First set is FREE!

decodable cvc sentences

CVC Sentences - Read it, Build it, Write it

cvc sentence mats

Trace the CVC Word Sentences

trace the cvc word sentences

trace the cvc word sentences

Step 7: Read decodable books and passages

As your students practice their decoding skills, they can work their way through longer stretches of text. I recommend only using decodable books, not predictable texts, to ensure your students can read each word. We don't want to promote compensation strategies like using context clues or looking at the pictures.

If you don't have decodable readers available at your school, I recommend these sources:

  • Little Learners Love Literacy
  • Decodable Readers Australia

Ready to transform your teaching day?

You need The Hive! My husband and I created this interactive digital teacher planner to make it easy for you to add research-based routines to your schedule and help you stay organised.

You can choose from hundreds of interactive literacy tools and videos to help you teach, practice, and reinforce your students' learning.

Our digital sound boxes and word building tools are the perfect way to practise orthographic mapping daily. Plus, there are a bunch of instructional videos and games you can plug and play!

You'll love how much The Hive simplifies your lesson planning, making it easier for you to focus on spending time with your students. Check it out today!