Children who develop strong phonological awareness skills in their first years of schooling will in turn become better readers and writers as they continue through school.

Phonological awareness covers a range of early literacy skills that are typically mastered between starting kindergarten and finishing grade two. Simply put, phonological awareness is understanding what the sounds (in letters) are and how they work together to make words.

Most children develop phonological awareness skills sequentially. You can find the list of phonological awareness skills in this blog post. While the skills tend to be sequential, it's important to remember that not every skill needs to be mastered before children will develop another of the skills. That and every child is different.

CVC words are an important tool for young children building phonological awareness skills.

MAKING CVC WORDS - A roadmap for when to teach CVC words to help build phonological awareness skills in early childhood | you clever monkey
There are many skills children need to master at this age. From my experiences in class, the ability to produce rhyme tends to be one skill some children take longer to master even when they have been able to identify rhyming words in kindergarten. If you're looking for ways to practice producing rhyme try this post but today's post considers the important role CVC words play in helping build a child's phonological awareness.


CVC words are an important tool when introducing many of the phonological awareness skills young children need to learn, because their simple pattern - consonant-vowel-consonant, makes it easier for children to transform individual sounds into short simple familiar words.

CVC words, they learn sounds can be blended together to make words. 

Being short words, children can also be taught to identify the first, middle and final sounds in CVC words and then how those sounds can be manipulated to produce new words by substituting one sound for another 👉🏼 c-at can be turned into b-at.
Using CVC words at this stage allows for children to be introduced to the more abstract concepts of onset (cat) and rime (cat) when identifying and producing rhyming words in families.

CVC Word Mats with Real Life Photos | you clever monkey


I was asked this question recently by a parent trying to support their child's learning at home prior to starting school. 

In class I introduce groups CVC words after starting on beginning sounds. Most phonics programs intentionally teach the short sounds of letters so once children have a handful of those most common sounds (think /S/A/T/P/I/N/), CVC words can be used in more meaningful ways.

When introducing CVC words, I like using these CVC word mats which feature real photos of familiar items making them easy to decode by early readers.

CVC Word Mats with Real Life Photos - perfect for helping young children to read and spell CVC word correctly as they build phonological awareness | you clever monkey

I might use them in our literacy centers paired with some magnetic letters or playdough for the children to make/trace the word with. The preprinted word on each card helps support those prereaders and writers become more familiar with the correct letter formation and positioning.

Using photos and the letter together to support learning is especially beneficial at this stage allowing the children a link between the visual imagery and the corresponding word being built.

With only a handful of familiar sounds in these early stages, I only select the CVC word mats that feature those sounds - tap, tin, pin... then as additional sounds are introduced, I add in more word mats for them to explore.

CVC Word Mats with Real Life Photos - perfect for helping young children to read and spell CVC word correctly as they build phonological awareness | you clever monkey

I've always found providing hands-on activities that make learning CVC words fun is the best way to engage young learners and when you spend so much time teaching and learning this important foundational skill, engagement is important. 

Looking for more ways to help your children learn to read and spell CVC words?


Crack The Code - CVC Word Cards | you clever monkey

CVC Word Clip Cards - children have to use their phonics skills to be able to read the CVC word in order to selected the correct picture to match | you clever monkey


Once children have learnt to segment and blend the individual sounds found in CVC words they will be ready to move on to segmenting and blending sounds in CVCC and CCVC words. You can find some teaching ideas and printables for the next stage here.