Teach your child to read 3 letter words
In Step 6 of our series of posts on how to teach your child to read, parents will learn how to teach their child to sound out and read simple 3 letter words. This step will empower parents: they will see and hear their child read words.
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First, make a list of simple 3 letter words that have a vowel in the middle and use the most common sound of each letter. Use simple words like cat, pet, lip, top, cup. It is fun to make lists of words to use. Parents can enlist their children to help think up simple, 3 letter words.
Look around the house for inspiration.
Items to use to teach your child to read three letter words
- lists of simple, three letter words
- a sound board (see Step 3 and Step 4 for DIY instructions)
- dry erase markers and tissue or dry erase marker if sound board is on a white board
- magnetic lowercase alphabet letters (several of each letter)
- completely optional but nice to have: picture cards of simple three letter words like this set from Amazon
Or, you can get creative and make your own picture cards.
In Step 3 and Step 4 of this series, you learned about sound boards and how to make them. Use your sound board for this step.
An easy way to teach your child to read three letter words
To make this step as easy as possible, use a sound board. Something about the boxes on a sound board helps differentiate letters from their sounds. When the letters are in their boxes on the sound board, they make their sounds.
When letters make their sounds they can be read as words
With my students I call “sounding out the word” either blending the sounds together to make a word or saying the sounds the fast way to make a word. Use whichever instruction seems to work best for your child.
You are teaching your child to read!
This is going to sound very simplistic, but when your child is looking at the letters and saying their sounds and then saying them the fast way to make a word, they are reading. Your child is associating the word to an object or idea thus giving the word meaning.
Teach your child to read the fast way
Make a point to have your child say the word after they sound out the parts of the word. Some students spend so much energy sounding out the word they forget to say the full word “the fast way” once they have sounded it out.
The reward is the correct word, so make sure your child says the word after sounding out each part. I try to say something like, “Yes, that is the word pet” or just simply, “Good!”
Teaching 3 letter word practice ideas
- write with colored chalk on the sidewalk (the middle letter,the vowel, is a different color)
- you write the letters into sound boxes with dry erase marker (the letter in the middle box,the vowel, is a different color)
- say the letter sounds and have your child write the letters into boxes on the sound board with dry erase marker and then sound out the word and read it out loud
- write a list of 3 letter words on a sound board and then call out one of the words and your child erases that word (words could be written in different color dry erase marker to correspond to the vowel in that word. Words with “a” in the middle are all green, words with “e” in the middle are all blue, etc.)
- your child chooses 3 letter word picture cards from a pile and then writes the words one at a time into the sound board boxes saying each sound as they write; child then reads the words “the fast way.”
- repeat the above sound board activities with magnetic lowercase letters instead of writing them with marker
- make pairs of 3 letter word cards and play a game with them like Go Fish! (I call this Go Read!) or Concentration (cards are word-side down on a table and you and your child have to find matches from a large rectangular array of cards)
- help build vocabulary by discussing what unfamiliar 3 letter words mean: bog, vat, wed, tip
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3 letter word picture card set from Amazon.com
Ruth Lytle says
This is great. I was a teacher before I had my own little kids (I taught several grades and then worked in special education). There are some fantastic ideas here to make sounding out CVC words more engaging. Even if you don’t homeschool – if you have a 4 or 5 year old these things will support their learning at school so much! Once they get the three letter words you can move on to words that have consonant blends such as ll in words like “fell, well, bell” or the th blend in “that, math”.
Thank you, Ruth! I have seen in my students this year that they really need parental help to keep them moving forward in their reading. I would like to help parents with as many tips as I can. I hope to write more posts on these topics.