How to Teach CVC Words the Fun Way + Free CVC Word List

CVC words (or consonant-vowel-consonant words) are a type of simple three-letter words that follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.

In CVC words, a single vowel is sandwiched between two consonants.

These words are often among the first words introduced to early readers and learners because they are easy to sound out and decode.

And they typically include short vowel sounds. For example, the “a” in “cat” is pronounced as /æ/ (as in “bat”), the “o” in “pot” is pronounced as /ɒ/ (as in “hot”), and the “u” in “cup” is pronounced as /ʌ/ (as in “mud”).

CVC words are fundamental for early reading and phonics instruction, as they help children practice blending individual sounds together to read words and also segmenting words into individual sounds for spelling. 

By mastering CVC words, learners gain confidence in their decoding and encoding skills, laying a strong foundation for reading and writing more complex words and sentences.

So let’s take a closer look at the letter sounds and word families associated with CVC words.

Letter Sounds

Phonemic awareness is an essential pre-reading skill that involves the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.

Understanding this is the first step to helping learners make connections between the letters they see and the sounds they make within words.

Therefore, if young learners can grasp the fact that the short sound of the vowels in most CVC words is based on these vowels being found in closed syllables (or sandwiched between two consonant sounds), they’re on their way to being able to decode short vowel words, read simple sentences, and eventually read proficiently.

Word Families

The easiest way to work on CVC words is introducing one individual word family at a time. But what is a word family?

A word family, also known as a phonics word family or rime, is a group of words that share a common phonetic ending or rime.

The rime is the part of a syllable that includes the vowel and any consonant sounds that come after it. 

Word families typically have the same rime, but they may have different initial consonant sounds (onset).

This is significant to understand because word families are useful in teaching early readers and learners to recognize common patterns in words.

By identifying and learning word families, children can easily see the relationships between words with similar sounds and spellings. 

The most common CVC word families include…

  • at words, ag words, an words
  • ed words, et words, eg words, en words
  • it words,  ig words, in words
  • ot words, og words, op words
  • ut words, ug words, up words, un words

But I want to make your life even easier, so I am going to share a word list that includes the CVC words for each word family.

Simply enter your email below to grab your free CVC word list now!

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CVC WORDS LIST

CVC Word Lists

Here are some examples of CVC words that I have grouped by vowel sound.

Be sure to grab your printable worksheet that contains all of these word families in the same format to use as a resource when you teach your young readers CVC words.

Short A Words

/at/ family

  • cat
  • hat
  • mat
  • rat
  • sat
  • fat
  • bat
  • pat

/ag/ family

  • bag
  • lag
  • tag
  • sag
  • rag
  • wag

/an/ family

  • can
  • man
  • van
  • fan
  • ran
  • ban
  • tan
  • pan

Short E Words

/ed/ family

  • bed
  • fed
  • red
  • led
  • Ned
  • wed

/eg/ family

  • peg
  • leg
  • beg
  • Meg

/en/ family

  • pen
  • hen
  • ten
  • den
  • men
  • Ben

/et/ family

  • get
  • set
  • met
  • net
  • pet
  • jet
  • wet
  • vet

Short I Words

/ig/ family

  • pig
  • dig
  • big
  • wig
  • fig
  • rig
  • jig
  • gig

/in/ family

  • bin
  • fin
  • pin
  • sin
  • win
  • tin

/it/ family

  • sit
  • kit
  • pit
  • hit
  • bit
  • lit
  • fit
  • wit

Short O Words

/og/ family

  • dog
  • log
  • fog
  • jog
  • nog
  • bog
  • cog
  • hog

/op/ family

  • top
  • mop
  • bop
  • hop
  • pop

/ot/ family

  • pot
  • rot
  • tot
  • jot
  • got
  • not
  • dot
  • cot
  • lot
  • hot

Short U Words

/ug/ family

  • bug
  • hug
  • rug
  • mug
  • jug
  • tug

/un/ family

  • sun
  • run
  • fun
  • bun
  • nun
  • pun

/up/ family

  • cup
  • sup
  • pup
  • yup

/ut/ family

  • but
  • cut
  • gut
  • jut
  • nut
  • rut

While all of the words in each of these word family lists are real words, you can also introduce nonsense words that follow the same CVC pattern.

This will allow you to see which of your students are understanding the short vowel sounds within the closed syllable words and which ones are still struggling to master this skill. 

10 CVC Word Activities

So now that you have all of the words grouped by word family, you can create a literacy center or even just make simple flashcards with index cards for small group, whole group, and independent practice games. 

Engaging in CVC word activities can be a great way to reinforce early reading skills especially for your kindergarten students and first grade learners.

Here are some fun activities that can help children practice CVC words. 

1. Word Puzzles

Create CVC word puzzles by writing the individual letters on small cards or pieces of paper.

Mix up the letters and have your students arrange them to form CVC words. (For example, you can use the letters “c,” “a,” and “t” to make the word “cat.”)

2. Picture-Word Match

Prepare picture cards (or use picture books) and CVC word cards. Have your students match each picture to the correct CVC word.

This activity will help them connect the word’s sounds to its corresponding image using the picture clues as a more concrete representation of the word.

3. Hopscotch Phonics

This is an excellent activity for your kinesthetic learners because they NEED the movement component this will provide!

To play, simply draw a hopscotch grid on the ground using chalk and write CVC words in each square.

Then have students hop from one CVC word to another while saying the sounds of the simple words aloud.

As they increase in their ability to read the words, have them read the words individually instead of sounding out each phoneme.

If you want to make this option accessible for indoors, use painter’s tape to create a hopscotch grid. Write out CVC words onto index cards, and tape one card into each square.

Follow the same process as the outdoor version!

4. Word Hunt 

Create a list of CVC words and let your student go on a word hunt around the classroom or even the school!

They can find and read CVC words on signs, labels, books, or other objects. And then they can write out the words they find on their individual room recording sheets.

This would also be an excellent activity to send home as a family project.

Encourage parents/guardians to go around town looking for CVC words and then have students write each CVC whole word on their printable sheet!

If you want a slightly different variation of this activity, give your students an activity sheet that has CVC words in boxes. When they find one of the words, they simply color in the corresponding word!

5. CVC Word Building 

Use magnetic letters, letter tiles, or flashcards to build CVC words.

Say a CVC word aloud, and your child can recreate it by selecting the correct letters.

6. Sound Swap

Use CVC word cards and change one letter at a time to create new words. For example, change “cat” to hat, mat, rat, and so on.

Then encourage each student to read each new word aloud.

7. CVC Word Race

Write CVC words on index cards and spread them out on the floor. Call out a CVC word, and your child races to find and pick up the correct card.

8. CVC Bingo 

Make Bingo cards with CVC words written on them. Call out the words, and your child can mark the corresponding word on their card.

The first one to get a line or a full card shouts “Bingo!”

To make this activity even more manageable in a whole group situation, laminate the cards and let students mark their words with a dry-erase marker.

Then you don’t have to worry about keeping up with bingo chips!

9. Word Flip Book

Create a flip-book with CVC word families. Then help students find a new word by simply changing the first letter.

For example, have /at/ written on the top and change the initial consonant to make new words like bat, cat, rat, and sat.

Introducing a new beginning sound in this way will allow you to see who has truly mastered each specific word family and which students need more practice. 

10. Rhyming Pairs

Show your child pairs of pictures or cards with CVC words. Have them identify which words rhyme, emphasizing the ending sounds.

That’s it! Ten different playful and interactive activities that will keep your students engaged and motivated to continue learning.

Practicing CVC words regularly will strengthen their phonics skills and lay a solid foundation for reading success.