Intervention Ideas for Decoding CVC Words

Do you have kids that are struggling decoding CVC words?  Do they know
their letters and sounds, but they just can’t seem to put it all together to
read words with short vowels?  

Kids must have multiple exposures to words in multiple contexts to map words
and read them with automaticity.  So, it’s helpful to have multiple
interventions in our toolkit to help kids decode.

Today, we’re chatting about my favorite–Science of Reading aligned–ways to
help your kids learn to decode simple CVC short vowel words.

The Blending Slide

Phonemic awareness is the foundation of decoding.  Without being able to
blend and segment sounds kids hear, it is next to impossible to blend and
segment even the simplest words.

Let’s start with one of my favorites: The Blending Slide.  I start
this routine whole group from week 1.

I chant, 

Slide, slide, slippety slide.

I say the sounds.

YOU make it glide!

/c/ /a/ /t/

I touch my shoulder, elbow, and hand as I say each sound.  Then, without
saying anything else, I slide my hand down my arm from shoulder to hand and
the kids blend the sound.

As I’m touching each sound on my arm and blending, they are touching their
arms in the same way at the same time.  This Total Physical Response is
crucial to helping kids solidify their learning.

The sliding arm is MAGIC!  We use it for just phonemic awareness (sounds
only).  And we use it as we begin reading.  And I see those little
arms pop out all the time while they are practicing reading.  Especially
for my tactile learners.  It is a HUGE built-in manipulative and support
for them.  And when they reach automaticity, that arm no longer is

Segmenting on Arms

At the same time we are working on blending, we are also working on segmenting
with a chant called, “Break It Down.”

I start this routine whole group from week 1 also.  I snap to the beat
and chant,

Break it down (snap)

Break it down (snap)

Break. It. (snap) Down. (snap)

I say the word,

YOU say the sounds.


Then, we all stick our arm out in front of us.  We use our other arm to
touch our shoulder, elbow, and hand while saying each of the sounds we hear in
the word CAT.

/c/ /a/ /t/, CAT!

When we say the word at the end, we slide our hand all the way down our arm as
we blend our word. You can read more about how I use the Break It Down and Slide Chants for reading intervention here.

Don’t skip this practice, y’all.

Let me say it louder for the teachers in the back:  DON’T SKIP PHONEMIC AWARENESS.

Especially for intervention, the Science of Reading tells us it’s super important that kids have
opportunities to blend sounds together without having to think about the
letter-sound correlation.  Don’t worry, we are about to talk about connecting it to letters…. that’s the end goal after all, right?

Connect It To Letters

In addition to manipulating sounds, we know from the science of reading research that kids should also be connecting their
blending and segmenting skills to letters–and as soon as possible!  Sometimes, that comes immediately after manipulating sounds by asking, “And what letter makes that sound?”  

And sometimes it’s a stand-alone phonics lesson.

This can be as simple as writing a CVC word on the board and having kids hold
out their arms to say and blend the sounds.  

Another way I like to do this is by using magnetiles.  I love this
intervention because I can use it for decoding CVC words all the way up to
multisyllabic words (read those details

No matter how we connect it to letters, I have found that continuing to use
the arm as a manipulative to blend the sounds helps kids tremendously!

Making Words

Decoding one word at a time using dry erase boards or magnetiles is perfect
for kids starting to decode.

Once kids’ decoding skills are increasing and they are in need of LOTS of
decoding repetition, we move to making words. 
Making words
gives us the chance to manipulate and decode more words in a short amount of
time so the focus is on automaticity and fluency!

If we do this whole group, I use dry erase markers to speed up the gathering
materials process!

But for intervention groups, I still love using magnetic letters and the
tactile learning it adds.

Making words is a word building game that makes phonics practice more like a
puzzle so the kids are hooked from the first word!  You can read more
about how I use this intervention in
this post.

And you can find the premade lessons and mats that I use

Decodable Texts

Once kids are getting faster and more automatic with making words, they are
ready to read in context.  For these kiddos,
decodable texts
are the ONLY way to go!

I LOVE giving kids authentic ways to practice decoding as soon as they are
These decodable texts
give kids passages and booklets to practice CVC short vowel words, but with
silly stories that will entertain your kids!

Find decodable word lists, passages, booklets, and checkups for CVC words

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