Blog post

Learning to Read CVC Words- Through a Fine-Motor Activity

November 20, 2017Jenny

Early reading and phonics is a hot topic these days. There are arguments about how early is ‘too early’ to start phonics with young children. Some people think that children are pushed into formal learning at too young an age, whilst others are keen to encourage children to read and write as soon as they are able. Whatever your own view, this fine-motor activity for learning to read CVC words might be a fun one to try, once your child has learnt their letters and is starting to read ‘CVC’ (consonant, vowel consonant) short, 3-letter words.

rat learning to read cvc words


Children learn at different rates, but many 3-5 year olds will be ready to begin blending simple sounds together into words. By focussing on one sound (here we’ve looked only at words ending in ‘at’) you can provide lots of repetition and therefore help cement the learning your child is doing. This way of learning fits with the teaching of phonics in early literacy; sounding out letters and letter sounds before learning how to blend them together into words. If you are interested in this, there are several courses of study for phonics which Early Years settings choose from to teach their youngest students. Programmes such as Alphablocks on Cbeebies is another example of how phonics can be practiced.

using a peg and paint to learn CVC words

The ‘fine motor’ element of this activity involves using a clothes peg and cotton wool to dot underneath the letter as the child makes the sound. This will help them as they ‘blend’ the sounds together into a full word. By using the peg, they are strengthening their finger muscles and improving their concentration and hand-eye coordination, these are all skills which will help as they start learning to write, too. This type of exercise is sometimes called ‘finger gym’ or ‘funky fingers’. For more ideas for Fine Motor activities- check out the Rabbit Ideas Pinterest board.

cat is another CVC word from the same word family

Activities like this one often work best when an adult is present and facilitating the child. This can be joining in alongside them, to model the activity or simply talking them through it, emphasising the letter sounds as they read them, repeating it over and over and encouraging the child to say them as they complete the activity, too. This way, the sound of the letter will be associated in the mind of the child with how it looks on the paper. This is all part of the process of early reading.

wooden letters used to create cvc words

Especially when doing something like this at home, we always go at the pace the child is happy with. If they are getting confused or frustrated, have a break, take a step back, or go back to the level they are comfortable with for a few days, before trying again. Sometimes choosing the right time of day; when they are alert but not too full of energy, can be the key to trying a new activity or seeing if they are ready for the next stage of learning. Enjoy the early reading process together!

This post first appeared as a guest post I wrote for Mummies Waiting blog- you can read the original here.

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Comments (15)

  • Mama Grace

    November 21, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I love your activities and your site. Such a great way of explains the why and how. #TacticalTuesdays

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 23, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you so much for the positive feedback! Glad you find it useful. 🙂

  • Joanna Bayford

    November 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    What a great idea definitely one to try with Blake.

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Great- thank you for reading, and for the linky!

  • Vicky

    November 29, 2017 at 7:51 am

    This is such a lovely idea for those children who are more visually or kinesthetically minded. You always have such fab ideas! #tacticaltuesdays

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 29, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I am more of a kinesthetic learner, myself so tend to plan things that way, too!

  • Sarah | Digital Motherhood

    December 4, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    This is a really good idea for little ones learning to read and spell #Bloggerpinparty

  • Jemma

    December 10, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Great ideas! My daughter has just turned 4 and is phonics made- I shall be using these! #bloggerpinparty

  • Claire @ The Ladybirds’ adventures

    December 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Great idea. My 4 year old would enjoy this. Thanks for sharing with #bloggerpinparty

    1. Jenny Rumney

      December 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Thank your for reading and sharing!

  • Cheshire SEN Tutor

    March 8, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Great activity, really enjoyed reading your post.

  • Helena

    March 10, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    This looks like a fun activity to do with my girls. Thanks for sharing. #FamilyFunLinky

  • Alana – Burnished Chaos

    March 10, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    What a great idea. My daughter loves anything that involves paint so this would be perfect for her.
    Thank you for joining the #FamilyFunLinky x

    1. Jenny

      March 12, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      Great! Thank you for reading

  • Malin

    March 12, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Nice idea! Might have to give this a try ??x #FamilyFunLinky

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