Young students usually first learn simple “cvc” words—consonant, vowel, consonant. These are simple three-letter words such as cat, pet, hid, hop, and cub. Three-letter words help a young reader learn as he sounds out the beginning sound, middle vowel sound, and ending sound then blends the sounds together to form a word.
Once a young reader can easily blend and sound out “cvc” words, use this simple way to double her vocabulary: Introduce the Magic “e” wand. The Magic “e” is the silent “e” at the end of “cvc” words that changes the vowel sound to form a new word. It’s been my experience that students love being a Magic “e” magician, and here’s how you can do this at home. You’ll need five items: a pack of small, blank, index cards; a popsicle stick; glue; colorful glitter; and a black magic marker.
Take one index card and cut off the right side, about an inch from the end. You should have a small 1-inch x 3-inch rectangle
In the middle of that small rectangle print a lowercase “e,” about an inch tall. Discard the remainder of the cut card. Help your child put a glue line on the “e” and sprinkle it with colorful glitter. Shake off excess glitter and glue or tape the “e” to the top of the popsicle stick. Put aside to dry.
Use the marker and some full index cards to print some “cvc” words, leaving about an inch space at the end of the word. Make sure to print in lowercase letters. Some examples are can, cap, pet, hid, pin, hop, not, cub, and tub.
Review that vowels have a short and long sound. In cvc words the vowel is always short. Explain that the silent “e” at the end of the word changes the vowel from the short sound to its long sound.
Hold up a word card and have him say the word can, for example. Then let him hold up the Magic “e” wand, at the end of the word, to change the word to cane. Practice with other words such as, hid to hide, cut to cute, tap to tape, hop to hope, etc.
Understanding vowels can be challenging for beginning readers. Manipulating the Magic “e” wand is a hands-on way to help a child remember this important aspect of phonics.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.