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4 Ways to Use a Muffin Pan for Teaching CVC Words in Kindergarten

What's a CVC word and why do we begin teaching CVC words in kindergarten?

CVC stands for consonant vowel consonant and in kindergarten, kids are expected to have learned all their letters and sounds, usually around winter of that year. Once they have built up their phonics skills they're ready to begin reading the simplest decodable words: CVC words with short vowels.

These words when sounded out make sense because each letter makes the sound that children are taught matches with that letter.

Kids don't magically begin reading though, once they know all their letters and sounds. To learn more about the other skills kids need to be able to read check out everything you need to know about CVC words. If your child is already familiar with listening for beginning, middle, and ending sounds along with blending sounds together, they're ready to read CVC words.

Using a muffin pan, I'll explore 4 CVC word games for kindergarten from least to most difficult.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Muffin pan used for spelling the words cat, six, and pin next to pictures of those things

Simple CVC words games for kindergarten

3 Simple Supplies you'll use again and again

  1. CVC words list with printable pictures - get mine instantly below
  2. 12 Cup Muffin Pan- we use this GoodCook one for all our CVC and baking needs
  3. Magnetic letters -Coogam makes our favorite soft foam letters that come with a white board and carrying case

Want a CVC words list with printable pictures?

Check out my shop to get my CVC picture cards:

  • Comes with 30 printable CVC word pictures
  • Pictures are black and white for easy printing
  • Corresponding word list
  • Pictures sorted by vowel sound for easy sorting
  • Use for this an many other games!
Purchase CVC word pictures sorted by vowel sound, 30 in all

Teaching CVC words: 1 Setup 4 ways to Play

1. Teaching CVC words with Missing Beginning Sounds - Early Kindergarten Level

  When kids are first learning letters they often associate words with their beginning sound, so at the end of pre-k and the beginning of kindergarten, they'll be able to place the matching letter to the beginning sound of the word.

Not only do kids practice their beginning sound knowledge with this game, they also are building awareness of the other sounds in the word as they see them in the muffin pan.

The beauty of the muffin pan is that it breaks down each word into 3 components: the CVC -consonant, vowel, consonant parts. Just like a story, each word is shown to have a beginning, middle, and end so the CVC words are not intimidating to young children.

Place each printable picture by the corresponding line on the muffin pan. Point out how the middle and ending sounds are there, but the beginning sound is missing.

Once your child chooses a beginning sound from the 4 options, model how to sound out the word: /b/ /a/ /g/ and then blend the sounds together to make the whole CVC word.

Though your student or child might not be ready to blend sounds together yet, having you model will greatly enhance their understanding of the steps it takes to read a word.

2. Teaching CVC words with Missing Ending Sounds-Middle Kindergarten Level

  In this version, everything is the same except it's not the beginning sounds missing from the CVC words, but the end. It might seem we have gone a bit out of order by skipping the middle sounds, but actually middle sounds are the most difficult to isolate since vowels are similar in sound.

This is why kindergarteners are expected to practice ending sounds next.

Have your kindergartner isolate the ending sound of the word, find the matching letter and complete the word. Don't stop just there! Point to each letter from left to right and sound out the word before blending the sounds together to make the complete CVC word.

Teaching CVC words in kindergarten is a snap when you break it down letter by letter.

As kids get stronger isolating the sounds, I might not have only the 4 missing sounds to choose from. Sometimes I include 10 or more to challenge them a bit when discerning which letter matches the missing sound.

3. Teaching CVC words with Middle Sounds- Middle to End Kindergarten Level

Muffin pan words missing the middle sounds

CVC word games for kindergarten

Isolating middle sounds to complete the CVC words is a trickier skill to practice because vowels have multiple sounds and often sound similar for young learners.

This is why we stick to using CVC words with short vowel sounds: bat, rat, dog, fog and NOT words like car and for where the vowel doesn't make its short vowel sound.

In kindergarten we teach kids two ways to isolate and listen for the middle sounds in CVC words:

  1. Segment the word aka break the word into parts: /c/ /a/ /t/
  2. Lengthen the word by stretching it to hear what's in the middle: "CAAAAAAAAAT"

One of my favorite strategies for stretching out the word is to speak "Whale" like Dory in Finding Nemo. If your child has seen that movie, they'll know just what to do to really stretch out the CVC word and listen for the middle sound.

Just like with ending sounds, you can offer just the 4 missing middles at a time or include the letters for all the CVC words list with printable pictures.

4. Independently Build CVC words

Cups have letters for kids to make CVC words in the muffin pan

Reading CVC words in Kindergarten

In my house, I'm known for sitting around with my Cup Of Noodles, so my kids' dubbed this version of the game: Cup of Wordles.

This activity is the culmination of teaching CVC words in kindergarten because the kids have to build the entire word themselves. It's still very simple because they can see there are not endless words to make, only 4 at a time and they have the letters to choose from.

In 4 cups, I put the letters needed to make each of the words and place each cup in the beginning sound spot of the muffin pan.

One at a time, kids take the "Cup of Wordles" and place each of the 3 letters into their correct spot to match the picture of the CVC word.

Kids check their work by sounding out the letters and blending them together to see if the CVC word they made matches the picture!

The Cup of Wordles title is just another engaging way to engage the kids in play, as they could be bakers, chefs, or home cooks in the kitchen using their letter ingredients to make delicious words.

Why don't we just teach CVC words with worksheets?

Do you remember having any "Aha!" moments from a worksheet? Me neither.

My mission is to bring hands-on learning games to others to keep that magic of kindergarten alive. Earlier and earlier kids are expected to sit at a desk with a piece of paper and a pencil, and kids lose out on the magic of playing to learn.

In this game, the CVC words that could be made and spelled on a worksheet are much less intimidating because kids are playing to learn. Kindergarteners are more likely to take risks and be open to making mistakes when they're playing as opposed to doing a sit down task, especially for a new skill.

By using the muffin pan, the missing letters do not have endless possibilities, they are clearly broken down into 3 letters each and kids are given choices as to a few options they could be, instead of having to think of all the letters on their own.

Bigger picture: what's more fun? A worksheet or a muffin pan? As a teacher, I couldn't always get my hands on every supply I needed to make hands-on learning happen for a whole class, but as a parent, I thought, "Wow, I can definitely do a simple game instead of trying to wrangle my kids to sit down and focus for another worksheet."

Are you like me? Does your kid not sit?

I want to tell you that that's OK. No not okay, it's PERFECT. Kids are meant to play and explore and be kids. That's why I created The Fun Club where I guide parents of kids ages 4-5 in teaching their children the most important foundational skills with hands-on games in 20 minutes a day!

Each week I send out 5 activities that based in play - no worksheets and the games are FUN, easy to prep, and simple to do. Best of all, kids are developing a love of learning. My child learned to read at age 4 and 2 months just through playing games with me.

Want to learn more about The Fun Club?

Check it out.

Child holding die with CVC word on it: fun, The Fun Club advertisement
May 4, 2021

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My mission is to bring fun hands-on learning to your home through simple activities and games that capture your child’s interest.

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