November 27, 2017

5 Things to Know as Your Child Begins to Sound Out Words

When my oldest child was preschool age, I worked a little bit on letter names and sounds with him.  At the time, I really wanted to do a preschool in my home, but we had just moved into a house and I was still just trying to get everything put together.  So I put him in someone else's home preschool and he loved it!  After a few months, he had finished learning almost all of the letters and sounds, and I realized that he was ready to start sounding out words.  I was SO excited to teach him!  In college, I had taken several literacy classes and done several practicums where I helped children as they learned to read.  My mom had given me her Montessori reading materials that she used in her home preschool.  I was ready to teach S Bug how to read!  While I was able to teach him how to read, I still had much to learn about the reading process!

Since then, I have been able to teach two more of my children how to read.  I also was able to do a preschool in my home for a few years and teach many of those students how to sound out words.  Over the years since S Bug was in preschool, I have learned much about teaching reading, and I have changed and changed again the way I teach children how to read.  Today I want to share 5 things I have learned that may help you as your child begins to sound out words.  

1.  Begin With Short 'a' CVC Words

After a child has learned most or all letter names and sounds, then I begin to teach how to sound out CVC words.  CVC stands for consonant, vowel, consonant.  All vowels in CVC words make the short vowel sound.  Some examples are:  pat, big, dog, sun, bed

I always start with teaching short 'a' CVC words, because the short 'a' sound is the least likely vowel to be confused with other vowels.  Short 'e' seems to be the most difficult vowel for beginning readers.  This is the order I teach CVC short vowels:  a, i, o, u, e

2.  Reinforce that each letter makes a sound

When I first start teaching children to sound out words, I very deliberately have them point to each letter and say the sound.  For this process, I space the letters out more than normal and place dots under the words.  The dots are so the child knows where to move his finger.  This can also be done on a white board and demonstrated by the parent or teacher.

3.  Teach Blending

Blending is the process where we start by saying the individual sound in a word, and then we blend those sounds together to say the word.  

b          a           t

baaaa     t


Blending is a crucial skill in learning to read.  Sometimes readers struggle because they have not understood the concept of blending.

4.  Spend Some Time Teaching Word Families

Word families are groups of words that have a common pattern.  For example, the 'at' Family includes words that have the same ending chunk -at.  (cat, mat, bat, sat, rat, pat)  When children are exposed to word families, it helps them see patterns in words and how we sound them out.    

Reading instruction should include BOTH the teaching of word families, and the teaching of sounding out and blending.

5.  Provide a Variety of Fun Ways to Read Words
At this stage, I love to give my emerging readers a variety of fun ways to read words.  I use a lot of pictures at this stage.  It can be really boring to just read words off of a page.  When my reading activities are fun and varied, my emerging readers become excited to progress and look forward to the time they spend sounding out words.

My Help a Child to Read Packets are a learn-to-read series that provides a variety of fun ways to sound out words.  It also includes pages to instruct parents on how and when to teach different types of words.  Packets can be bought as individual packets or you can save BIG when buying in a bundle.

Short a CVC Words
CVC Words Bundle

Beyond CVC Words Bundle
Enjoy the Reading Journey!

Take a minute to read my post about what comes after CVC Words in the Reading Sequence.  
The Reading Sequence--Where is My Child on the Road to Reading


  1. This is a great resource. Will try them out, thanks

    1. Thanks you! So glad it was helpful! Keep stopping by for more tips on helping a child to read!

  2. Great tips! I have a kindergartener who is just starting to learn to read. She is making great gains at school, but thank you for giving me some tools to use at home! Do you have resources and ideas for struggling older readers? I have an autistic 4th grade daughter as well, and she is still reading at a first grade level. I would love some help!

    1. My goal is to give parents tools to use at home, so I'm SO glad it was helpful for you! Thanks for asking!
      I am still working on resources for struggling readers. You can check out my Pinterest board about Struggling Readers It doesn't have much on it right now, but it's growing. Also, I have a guest post coming up soon by a mom of a dyslexic learner. She will share her experience and several resources she has found and created.

  3. I have a while to go before my son is doing this but I always love reading things that can help for the future. Thank you

    1. Thanks Melissa! Keep stopping by, in the future I will be adding posts about pre-reading skills, and favorite book list.

  4. Neither of mine are quite there uet. But have bookmarked for when they are. Great post!