What CVC Words Should I Teach First
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What CVC Words Should I Teach First?

CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) words are essentially among the first that a child learns during language development. These words are easy as they only consist of one vowel and therefore count as one syllable. Parents and teachers should consider the order in which you can teach CVC words, which would make it easier for children.

CVC words with the short vowel ‘a’ should be taught first. CVC word end combinations can include -at and -ad, for instance, words like ‘cat’ and ‘dad’. Afterward, you can focus on CVC words with other vowels like ‘pet’, and ‘sit’. You can teach real and made-up CVC words in the initial stages.

Additional to the order in which you should teach CVC words, it is equally important how they are taught. The essential factor here is play. Children learn early language through playing and doing creative activities. Many different activities can make teaching CVC words fun.

The CVC Words To Teach Children First

CVC words are three-letter words that consist of one vowel wedged in the middle of two consonants. These consonants can be the same or different. For instance, ‘dog,’ ‘mom,’ and ‘bag’ are CVC words. Because these words are some of the simplest to pronounce during language learning, they often make up the first actual words a child produces.

Teaching CVC words are essential for early reading and writing skills. CVC words are phonetic, making them easier for children to learn. Phonetic means that the consonants and vowel letters typically represent how they sound.

For example, the word ‘cat’ is spelled the same way it is pronounced. Compared to ‘cake’ which doesn’t quite match spelling and pronunciation as the last vowel is a silent one.

When looking at which CVC words to teach first, it is important to look at the vowel first. Usually, children learn the ‘a’ vowel as in ‘dad’ or ‘cat’ first. Therefore, you should teach CVC words ending in -at, -ad, or -am first.

Each vowel (a, e, i, o, and u) has a short version (like in the word cat) and a long version (like in the word cake). Before venturing to long vowels, you should teach CVC words with all the short vowels first. The following table shows some examples of CVC words with each vowel in a suggested order.

VowelCVC word examples in orderCommon word endings
Short aCat Mat Sad Bad-at -ad
Short ePet Met Bed Pen Men-et -en
Short iPig Big Fit Sit Win-ig -it  
Short oPot Dog Log Fog Rob-og -ob
Short uMud Sun Run Cut Nut-un -ut

Teach children CVC words with consonants that they typically acquire early on, like p, b, m, d, w, h, t, and n. You might notice that the first consonants of the CVC words are easier to produce. The ‘m’ in mat is one of a child’s first sounds, usually by babbling ‘ma-ma-ma’.

As you continue to teach different CVC words, you can expand the consonants you use. Also, the last two letters (-VC) of the word are the same for many words. For example, -at, -et and -og. You can use this end of the word combination and add different first consonants, showing the child that there are many possibilities to make a word.

Using the same end combinations like -at and -et, you can also use rhyme as a fun activity. By adding different letters, the meaning of the word changes. The child can choose other beginning consonants, and you can work together to see which words are real and which are made up.

How Do You Teach CVC Words?

Before you can teach CVC words, children must know how sound-letter identification works. Sound-letter correspondence means that they can recognize that the letter ‘m’ (pronounced ’em’) sounds like ‘mmmm’. Although the order of teaching CVC words begins with easy consonants, it is helpful if you have already taught children the entire alphabet’s sound-letter identifications.

When teaching CVC words, and most things reading and spelling related, the critical thing to remember is to do it through play. Play is the ‘language’ that children understand, and they can use this to learn sounds, letters, and words.

We have loads of different games and resources on the site to help you teach your students and children. You can check out our CVC resources here, or click on the example below.

CVC Word Lists Printable PDF

Consistency and patience are essential concepts when teaching first CVC words. Do a little bit of practice each day, and vary teaching by playing in different ways. Some ideas include tracing the letters and words in sand or using paint or colored pencils. Letter magnets can be another fun way to blend letters to make CVC words.

The main goal of learning CVC words is to take apart (decode) and put together (blend) the letters of the word. To do this, you should teach both real CVC words and nonsense words. Nonsense words are made-up words (like pog) that will encourage children to learn how to read CVC words using the correct mechanisms.

A play activity could include three piles of letters – 1 pile of vowels and two piles of consonants. You can help the child make the “weirdest” CVC word. Concentrating on nonsense words will also encourage children to not rely only on learning the CVC words by heart. It will help them understand the process of blending letters and sounds to make a word.

Another idea for teaching CVC words is by using matching pictures. Children can practice blending the sounds to make the word corresponding to the picture. Although this can be a fun activity, you do not have to use pictures to teach CVC words. It may be helpful initially but shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be used with every game or task you use to teach CVC words.


Teachers and parents should teach CVC words with short vowels first. Typically, children learn the ‘a’ vowel first, so word combinations with this vowel are good to teach first. Examples include ‘cat’, ‘dad’ and ‘mat’. The other short vowels can be added from here with different consonants to make new words.


I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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