Short A CVC Words: Free Printable Word List & Tips

Short A CVC Words: Free Printable Word List & Tips

Composed of just three letters, short a CVC words, like fan and bad, are some of the easiest words for beginning readers to learn! In this blog post, you'll get an overview of how to teach these three-letter words and grab a free printable CVC word list you can use again and again!

CVC words are some of the most exciting words to teach. Since they are so consistent in their spelling and pronunciation, young learners can decode and encode them more easily than other words. This immediately boosts their confidence, helping them read their first words!

There are so many ways to teach these simple words, and I'm sharing some of my favourite ways in the resources below. I also recommend taking the time to explore my Resources tab to see the plethora of activities to use during your phonics instruction or literacy centers!

What are short A cvc words?

CVC words are three-letter words that follow a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern. They all contain short vowels in the middle, which makes them incredibly predictable and easy to read.

Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tips

Examples of CVC words with a short A sound:






These CVC words with short A are a great way to practice identifying the medial sound in words, and once your students start sounding them out, they'll finally experience the magic of reading!

Short A CVC Words List

-ab: cab, jab, tab

-ad: bad, dad, had, mad, pad

-ag: bag, rag, sag, tag,  wag

-am: dam, ham, ram, 

-an: ban, can, fan, man, tan,  

-ap: gap, lap, map, nap, tap, zap 

-at: bat, cat, fat, hat, mat,  pat, rat, sat, 

Free printable word lists

It's always nice to have word lists to match any phonics skill so you can come up with relevant examples quickly during your phonics lessons! My free decodable word lists have more than just different CVC words; they also include:

  • VC/CV words
  • CCVCC words
  • CCVC words
  • CVCC words
  • Compound words with CVC 
Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tip

This printable resource is the perfect tool to support your instruction! Get your free printable lists here.

How to Teach Short A CVC Words

It's incredibly important to teach all phonics skills in a developmentally appropriate way. The written word is a symbolic representation of spoken language. Your students instinctively understand spoken language and will have an easier time learning the abstract skill of reading if you start with a skill they understand, like speaking.

1. Develop phonemic awareness

The first step for teaching your students how to read CVC words is to build their phonemic awareness skills. Students need to be able to identify the individual phonemes in words and then be able to blend and segment them in different ways.

Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tip5

Throughout your phonics lessons, you can highlight the difference between short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds. Your students will naturally begin to classify the different sounds they hear in words and recognise these patterns.

Practise identifying the beginning sound, middle sound, and ending sound in different words. Students will have an easier time with the initial and final sounds but tend to struggle with the middle vowel sound.

It can be helpful to have them practise identifying the vowel sounds in other spoken words and then think of other words that rhyme with the words on your list of CVC words, too. These early phonological awareness skills make it so much easier for your students to learn how to read in the long run.

2. Use orthographic mapping or sound boxes

When your students are ready, transfer this auditory skill by teaching orthographic mapping. This sounds more complicated than it is! You're simply asking students to identify the sounds they hear in a word, then represent those sounds with a matching letter.


Ask: "What sounds do you hear in man?" 

Segment the phonemes orally: /m/ /a/ /n/

Write: In sound boxes, write the letter for the /m/ sound, then the /a/ sound, and finally the /n/ sound.

It's not necessary to be overly precise with spelling at first, but you'll want to make sure your students understand letter sounds before beginning. Here's an example of some word mapping mats which you could use to map CVC Short A words.




To make the learning even more meaningful, invite your students to build the individual letters in these words on word building mats. They could write the word out with playdoh, or use magnets or letter tiles.

Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tip

These options will help them develop their fine motor skills and encode these new skills to their memory in multiple ways. 

3. Practise decoding

Once students get the basic concept, apply these skills in increasingly challenging ways. Start by decoding a word you've already taught students to encode as a scaffold. Focus on clustering similar words (like -an or -ad short A words), then move to the other short A CVC word families. Eventually, offer a variety of CVC words (short i, short e, etc) to strengthen their skills.

Over time, children will be able to decode these words quickly and fluently (without relying on flashcards).

One fun way to work on decoding skills can be to use a toy car to sound out. 

Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tip

4. Incorporate CVC Words Activities & Games

Once students have a basic understanding of these new words, practise blending and building CVC words regularly. Start with a single word family (like CVC words that end in -an) and then add more variations with the same short vowel sound. Then, start having students work with any words that follow the CVC pattern to build their independence and skills.

You can assign different CVC word worksheets or games to help them practise decoding or writing these words. 


Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tip


As they become more confident, you start having them decode simple sentences and then begin reading decodable readers. This is where reading starts, and it's amazing to see how much your students will progress throughout the course of the year!


Short A CVC Words Free Printable Word List & Tip5


There are tons of printable worksheets and interactive games available in my shop, so be sure to explore to find the right resources for your students.

Resources for Teaching CVC Words

​More Posts about Phonics Skills

When you're ready to move on to the next sound or go deeper, the following posts will break it down into easy steps. 

Simplify your teaching this year!

If you really want to uplevel your teaching this year, check out The Hive! This tool is way more than just a digital planner (although it's a fabulous one at that). It also includes hundreds of developmentally-appropriate instructional videos, resources, and apps that you can pull up at any moment.

Not only can you build decodable words with our online word builder tool, but you can also review decodable words and decodable sentences with our Decodable Words and Decodable Sentences apps. 

It's the perfect way to simplify your teaching practice while offering your students a fantastic way to learn the essential skills they need.

Join The Hive today!