As educators, we know that reading is like a key that unlocks endless adventures and knowledge. The journey starts with the basics, and today, we’ll dive into one of those building blocks: understanding middle sounds in CVC words.
CVC words, or Consonant-Vowel-Consonant words, are short and sweet. They’re made up of three letters: a consonant sound, a vowel sound, and another consonant sound. Words like “cat,” “dog,” and “hat” are great examples of CVC words. These words are like the stepping stones on the path to reading because they’re simple, easy to read, and they’re perfect for teaching kids about vowels, especially short vowels.
Teaching middle sounds in CVC words is a big deal in phonics. It helps kids understand and play with the sounds inside words, which is super important for reading and spelling. When we focus on the middle sound, we’re helping our young learners connect the sounds they hear when words are spoken to the letters they see when they read. Here are some middle sound activities you can try to help your students master those medial sounds.
Medial Sound Word Chains
This activity requires zero prep. You can do this orally. If you prefer for students to write, then you will need a whiteboard and dry-erase marker. Start with a cvc word such as bat. Ask the students to change the middle sound to create a new word like bit, bot, or bet. Continue doing this until you’ve used every vowel. Then, start with a new word and repeat the process. As students work on medial sounds, they are also substituting sounds which is a skill needed to master.
Mystery Middle Sound
For this activity, you need a set of small objects or picture cards with cvc words. You will create a mystery bag or container to hold the cards. Students will reach into the bag and pull out a card or object without looking. Then, they have to identify the missing middle sound for each word. This is an activity that can easily be used as a center to practice this skill.
This activity can be used with any number of students. I always teach it whole group and then allow them to play it in centers. It also works with a small group. Students need something to write on and something to write with. That’s it! We prefer using iPads as our writing tool for activities like this to save on using dry-erase markers. However, when tech isn’t an option, I do pull out whiteboards and markers to use.
This activity is made interactive and fun by having it in slides. I press play and it either goes automatically through every word or I can do it manually. Students look at each picture and write the medial sound. Then, the answer shows and they hear the sound at the same time.
Middle Sound Sort
For this one, you need small objects or picture cards and sorting mats. If you do not have sorting mats, you can always just make mats with a blank piece of paper. Each paper will need to be labeled with a different vowel. If you want to do this whole group, you can make 5 spaces on an anchor chart and sort on that.
Divide your students into pairs or small groups. This can also be an independent center if your students are ready to be independent with this skill. They will need a sorting mat and picture cards or objects to sort. They will choose an object, identify the middle sound, and place it in the appropriate sorting category.
Middle Sound Bingo
BINGO! Kindergarten students love playing Bingo once they learn how to play it. Put a spin on it and make the focus medial sounds. There are tons of Bingo creators online to make it your own, especially if you want to focus on certain vowel sounds only. This activity combines the excitement of the game with the reinforcement of phonemic awareness.
Middle Sound Relay
Yes, a class relay. This works well on a day with not-so-great weather and you can’t have outdoor recess. This activity puts teamwork, competition, and phonemic awareness together. For this game, you need a set of word cards with cvc words missing the middle sound. Separate your class into two teams.
The cards can be face down on the floor or a table, away from the starting area. One student from each team will sprint across the room, choose one card, say the word for everyone to hear, and then say its middle sound. If they get it right, they can return to their team and the next player goes next.
The first team to complete all the cards wins the game.
Introducing middle sounds with a song or chant is always a great idea, especially if it’s a catchy tune. It’s a lively and effective way to help your students develop a strong grasp of middle vowel sounds in cvc words. There are many vowel songs on Youtube and old chants that have been done for years. Here are a few of my favorites.
Write the Room
Everyone knows Write the Room. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s pretty simple. Put cards or words around the room and have your students to walk the room with paper on a clipboard and find the words. For this one, everything will be focused on the medial sound. Students get to explore the classroom in search of hidden word cards.
You will need cvc picture cards. The cards should not have any words on them. If needed for differentiation, you can have the beginning and ending sound on the card with a blank space for the medial sound. Attach these around the room. I love using Stikky Clips because I can easily move the clips around the room without damaging the wall. The cards are also really easy to just stick under the clip.
Students will just need something to write on as they find each picture and write the medial sound. I usually have my cards numbered and give my students paper with a numbered list. As they find each one, they write the correct vowel next to the correct number. That’s it! They are done when they find every card and write down the medial sound.
Medial Sound Memory Match
To play medial sound memory match, begin by creating pairs of cards, each displaying a picture of a CVC word, with the middle sound represented by a blank space (j_t with a picture of a jet). Ensure you have enough pairs to engage all your students effectively.
Shuffle the cards thoroughly and place them face down in a grid pattern on a suitable flat surface like a table or the classroom floor. The size of the grid may vary depending on the number of cards you have and the size of your class.
Before starting the game, gather your students and explain the rules. Let them know that they will take turns flipping over two cards. The objective is to find pairs of cards that complete a CVC word by matching the correct medial sound (for example, “c__t” and “h__t”). When a student successfully matches a pair, they get to keep those cards.
The game continues until all matches have been found. The student who collects the most pairs by correctly matching the middle sounds wins the game. This activity not only helps reinforce medial sound recognition but also encourages memory skills and active engagement in a fun and interactive way, making phonics more enjoyable for your class.