How I Got 21 Out of 27 Kids to Master 100% of their CVC Words in Kindergarten

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In this post, I am going to tell you how I got 21 of my 27 Kindergarten students to master 100% of their consonant-vowel-consonant words!  This year, I have been especially focused on teaching my Kindergartners to sound out words.  However, I really haven’t given the children very many formal lessons on it, like I did last year.  Instead, this year we have been singing my new sound blending songs since around the beginning of November!   And I have to say that I am ecstatically pleased with how this set of songs turned out, and how they are working to help children learn!
I have been working with my co-songwriter and arranger Mike Cravens on this project off and on since last summer.  Indeed, I have been kicking ideas around in my head for songs to help children learn to read CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) words for several years.  The CVC books themselves have always been top sellers and personal favorites of mine for classroom use, and teachers would often ask me which CD or DVD went with them.  And to that question, I was always stumped, and had NO idea how to answer at all!  I certainly would not recommend teaching children to memorize the spellings of all of those CVC words; we learn to spell those words by sounding them out and writing the sounds that we hear, of course.  Of course, that was the answer; we needed songs to help the children learn to do just that.

Naturally, many children learn to sound out and read words quite efficiently without the assistance of music.  But I was reaching for the children that might normally fall below that baseline, who could actually be taught to sound out the words if it were taught to them in an alternative method. 

So, this is what I tried to do in song:  

1.  I took the steps that are needed in teaching children to sound out words, and applied them to each word family in song.  

2.  I changed the words for each verse to reflect each new word family word, and then used each new word in a sentence.

3.  I added movements to made it a more brain friendly activity that would “stick.”

4.  My best music buddy Mike Cravens added his musical magic via some fantastic arrangements that are fun and motivating, as usual.

5.  Voilá!  We now have a “Sound Blending Song” for each word family included in the HeidiSongs CVC Book, Vol. 1.

Here is our newest creation!

So check our newest CD on our website here!  And in answer to the next, inevitable question, our target date for release of the DVD is May, 2013.  I will certainly keep you posted on how that is going, because I know how much the DVD’s help those of you that depend on them!

Here is a song list, too:

Music titles include:
1: Just Two Sounds
2: Little Two Letter Words
3: How Do You Sound It Out?
4: At Family Song
5: An Family Song
6: It Family Song
7: In Family Song
8: Ig Family Song
9: Ip Family Song
10: Op Family Song
11: Ot Family Song
12: Ox Family Song
13: Et Family Song
14: En Family Song
15: Eg Family Song
16: Ug Family Song
17: Ut Family Song
18: Un Family Song
19: Nonsense Words

 

Take a look and see how some of these songs turned out!  Here is one example, performed by my good friend Julie Prager’s class, looking super cute in their jammies.  🙂

 

 

If you would like to see what the lyrics and hand motions look like for this CD, please click here!
 


There are also some free downloads of visual aids for you to use when using the CD.  I hold them up for the children to read and blend the words while we are singing the songs.  I hope that you find them useful!

I found the section for the Nonsense Word Song to be extremely helpful in getting the kids to practice sounding out random, nonsense words, too.  This helped me prepare my students for the nonsense word portion of the DIBELS tests.  (This download is included with the other visual aides and is part of just one big download for the entire CD.)

I have to say that I even I was totally amazed at how well the children learned to sound out words this year by using the songs.  I started testing the children on sounding out their CVC words around our 100th day of school, and even though I suspected that they were doing quite well, I really didn’t expect the level of success that I saw!  This is what I found:

I have 27 students.  The class average is 92.2% correct on the CVC test.  I think that this is AMAZING, considering we haven’t even finished our second trimester, and that I have hardly done any directed lessons on how to sound out words.  We really haven’t spent a lot of time on it, other than singing the songs, and in sounding out some words off of our pocket chart chorally a couple of times a week in the morning after our calendar time.

We practiced sounding out words like this a couple of times a week on a pocket chart, but with the pictures removed so that the answers wouldn’t be given away.  Then we put the pictures back.  These flash cards came from my CVC book above.

 

* 21 of them got 10 out of 10 CVC words correct on their test!  And that includes words with all five vowel sounds in them that I hadn’t even introduced yet.

*  3 of them got 9 out of 10 CVC words correct on their test.  One of them gave me an incorrect sound for one of the letters, and therefore produced the wrong word.  The other two children blended the word incorrectly.

*  One child got 6 out of 10 words correct, but can accurately blend the sounds together when I say them.  Therefore, I believe that he is on his way to getting there; he just needs a bit more time.  Learning to blend the sounds together is really more than half the battle!  The other half is learning to read and “process” the letters that you see and say the sounds aloud, remember them and then blend them together to make a word.  It’s a tall order for a little one.

 

This is the test that is required by my district.  It is a very fair and reasonable test.  Note that there are two words for every vowel sound.  We deliberately tried to avoid words with b’s and d’s to avoid confusion with reversals, considering this is only kindergarten, and lots of kids reverse letters at this point.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t READ at this point in their lives.

 

*  There are two more children that are struggling. One child got 4 out of 10 words correct, but can also accurately blend sounds together when I say the sounds.  He is also on his way.  Another child got 2 out of 10 words correct.  Both children have other issues in play that I cannot reveal in a public forum, of course. However, they are making progress, and I am confident that they will have it down by the end of the year!

I worked REALLY hard with my class on sounding out words last year, and spent a lot of class time on it.  We only got these type of results by the very end of the year, AFTER we had completed the units on every single unit.  That wasn’t the case this year.  To be fair, this is a higher group than I had last year, but certainly not the highest I’ve ever had by any means.  And this is a Title One school, with more than 50% of the students qualifying for a free lunch.

 

 

 

Thanks again to Julie Prager’s wonderful class for demonstrating these songs for us, and for allowing us to come and video tape in her classroom!  I really appreciate it!


Don’t forget! Time is quickly running out on our Video Contest, so get those cameras rolling and send in your videos before the end of next week!  It’s the easiest way to get some new goodies and there is a chance to win $300 of HeidiSongs products!  Here’s another great entry from our friends at Taylor Elementary School, singing and boogieing to the Sounds Fun Phonics “Ea/Ee – Whee” song. Enjoy!

 

 

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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. I am so impressed with all of your products. I wrote a grant a couple of years ago and bought everything you had at that time and since then I buy whatever comes out. Another one of our Kindergarten teachers loved it and also wrote a grant to get the entire program. At our Kindergarten meeting in January the Principal was so impressed with how many sight words our children know at this time in the year that he purchased the letter and sight word dvds and cds for the other 2 Kindergartens and now our title one teachers want to get the program. We are also a title on school and we cannot believe how the children recognize these words when reading. Sometimes if they get stuck you can see them singing the song in their head. We do have all day every day Kindergarten which means we can spend a half hour every day singing your songs. I also use the number dvds in the afternoon for math. You have so much to offer, Keep creating and thank you for doing so!
    Lynne

  2. To Sandra Hogan:
    I am sorry, but we are not doing any pre-orders at all, because we do not have a system in place to keep track of it all, I'm afraid! But thank you so much for your interest. If you subscribe to my blog, we will surely announce it here when it is ready.
    Heidi

  3. I recently came across your blog again have been reading along.
    I thought I would leave my first-class comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have
    enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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  4. I love your blog! I have one question. When you say the students can read the CVC word, can they look at the word and say it, or do they need to blend it? My Kindergartners are getting good at blending and are developing fluency with some word family words, but regular CVC words are more of a challenge. I think I am going to try the Word Family DVD!

    • Hi, Rebecca! THANKS! I’m glad you like my blog!
      Some of my students sound out the word and then read it, and some of them just say it. It really depends on the child. Our reading program tells us to “insist” that they say the sounds of the word aloud and only then can they read the word. This can be a problem for the children that are more fluent readers and don’t need to actually sound it out because they are already doing all of that in their heads. I would say that about 20-25% of my students can usually sound out the words in their heads by the end of the year, and the rest still need to sound most of the words out. It also depends on the word that they are reading. Some of the words become very familiar and then they just say them immediately.
      I’m not sure what you mean by word family words as opposed to regular CVC words. Aren’t all CVC words a part of a word family? I teach them all in word families! That’s the way they appear in my CVC book, anyway!
      Thanks!
      Heidi

  5. Hi Heidi,

    Taught for Pk-2nd for 12 years and went to different work, now teaching adults (non-English speakers) part time. of course gave all my stuff away, looking for the some of the phonics word list of the sounds fun vol 2…but can’t figure how to get to the ordering of it…I would be fine ordering both volumes, would prefer to download a hard copy. Let me know how, I have PayPal.

    All the best,

    Jayne

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