Orton Gillingham for All

Phonemic Awareness: Speaking of Individuality

What’s the importance of phonemic awareness and what exactly does that mean? First, phonics and phonemic awareness is not the same thing. Phonics is the understanding of the relationship of letters and sounds in WRITTEN language. Phonemic awareness is understanding the sounds of language working together in SPOKEN language to make words.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, Putting Reading First, Kindergarten Through Grade 3, “If children are to benefit from phonics instruction, they need phonemic awareness.” The document goes on to say, “The reasons are obvious: children who cannot hear and work with the phonemes of spoken words will have a difficult time learning how to relate these phonemes to graphemes when they see them in written words.”

What that says to me, is that children need to be able to hear language as much as see language and even “feel” language by tapping the letters on one hand while saying the sounds, tracing in the air, on paper, in sand, underlining the word while they repeat it, and any other creative way teachers have come up with to implement the kinetic part of OG.

Phonemic awareness is a subcategory of phonological awareness, they are not interchangeable. Phonological awareness is broad, encompassing many different parts of spoken language. Phonemic awareness is narrow, boiled down to just identifying and manipulating individual sounds in words.

So, how do we put into use phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness is divided into categories to be taught.

Phoneme isolation

Recognition of individual sounds in a word.

Teacher says, “What is the first sound in van?”

Children: “The first sound in van is /v/.”

Phoneme identity

Recognition of the same sounds in different words.

Teacher says, “What sound is the same in fix, fall and fun?”

Children: “The first sound, /f/, is the same.”

Phoneme categorization

Recognition of a word in a set of three or four words that has the “odd” sound.

Teacher: “Which word does not belong? Bud, bun, rug.”

Children: “Rug does not belong. It does not begin with /b/.”

Phoneme Blending

Students listen to a sequence of separately spoken phonemes, and then combine the phonemes to form a word. Then they write and read the word.

Teacher: “What word is /b/ /i/ /g/?”

Children: “/b/ /i/ /g/ is big.”

Teacher: “Now let’s write the sounds in big. /b/ write b, /i/ write I, /g/ write g.”

Teacher: (Writes big on the board.). “Now we are going to read the word big.”

Phoneme segmentation

Break a word into separate sounds, saying each sound and tapping out or counting it. Then write and read the word.

Teacher: “How many sounds are in grab?”

Children: “/g/ /r/ /a/ /b/. Four sounds.”

Teacher: “Now let’s write the sounds in grab: /g/, write g, /r/, write r, /a/, write a, /b/ write b.

Teacher: (Writes grab on the board.) “Now we are going to read the word grab.”

Phoneme deletion

Recognize the word that remains when a phoneme is removed from another word.

Teacher: “What is smile without the /s/?

Children: “Smile without the /s/ is mile.”

Phoneme addition

Make a new word by adding a phoneme to an existing word.

Teacher: “What word do you have if you add /s/ to the beginning of park?”

Children: “Spark.”

Phoneme substitution

Substitute one phoneme for another to make a new word.

Teacher: “The word is bug. Change /g/ to /n/. What’s the new word?”

Children: “Bun.”


Keep in mind when taking in this information, where I said Phonemic Awareness is just one, narrow portion of Phonetic Awareness. The skills I am presenting here are important for the identifying and manipulating the individual sounds of words, not the whole kit and caboodle. But, isolating phonemic awareness is important in the overall of see, hear, feel approach. Once students get it that these little letters make up words then moving on to bigger words is much easier.

According to the Institute for Literacy, phonemic awareness is best taught in small groups, as opposed to large groups or individually, because students can benefit from listening to the exchange between peers and the instructor.

Let me know if you have questions or if you have anything to add to what I said here. Are you a teacher who has any creative ways that you work with kids on Phonemic Awareness?


Here is a list of terms for this post. It is straight from my source listed below.

phonemic awareness terms




The information in this post was taken from: National Institute for Literacy, Put Reading First, Kindergarten Through Grade 3, Third Edition. This was a publication I received in the Orton Gillingham course I took. I also have taken information from my notes from a class discussion.

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Go to the End and Count Back Three, if You See Consonant + LE

So, I have another blog called Moms Soul Café, which I posted to yesterday. Today, I was going through my past posts and noticed that I accidentally posted the following OG information to my Mom’s Soul Café blog. I imagine my audience was a tad confused about the relevance of Consonant + LE in that genre! But hopefully they learned a little something.

The syllable pattern in REVLOC is is a departure from the Vowel-Consontant-Vowel patterns. This one is Consonant+LE. It is the L in REVLOC.

If you have not read the post on REVLOC, please read it and come back.

When you have a word with a Consonant+LE at the end, count back three letters, then divide the word. Consontant + LE is ALWAYS at the end of the word.

The C+LE endings are:

  • ble
  • dle
  • fle
  • gle
  • kle
  • tle
  • zle
  • ple

They are pronounced as:

  • ble = b’l (as in bubble)
  • dle = d’l (as in idle)
  • fle = f’l (as in ruffle)
  • gle = g’l (as in giggle)
  • kle = k’l (as in pickle)
  • tle = t’l (as in turtle)
  • zle = z’l (as in sizzle)
  • ple = p’l (as in people)

Within this syllable division type there are different kinds of words.

One, when the middle consonant is doubled.

For example: Cuddle, sniffle

Or, when there is a consonant you can hear.

For example: shingle, tangle, purple

Or, when there is a ck inside the word.

For example: crackle, fickle, freckle, pickle

In this case, when dividing the word, you DO break up the CK.

So, to actually divide a word, it would look like this:

  • Cuddle (Oh! I see a C+LE!) I go to the end, count back three, and divide

Cud (closed syllable or C)      dle (Cons. + LE or L)

  • Purple (I see C+LE at the end!) go to the end, count back three, and divide

Pur (r-controlled or R)             ple (Cons. +LE or L)

  • Crackle (I see C+LE at the end! But oh no, there’s CK and I have been told to leave blends and digraphs together. RULE: In cons. + LE you are allowed to break up the CK)

Crac (Closed or C)                 kle (Cons. +LE or L)

Here is a worksheet to try. It asks that the student write the sound of each Consonant + LE syllable just like the list I wrote above.

cons + le worksheet


Breaking the Rules: Wild Old Words

I’ve written in the past about closed syllables and how if a syllable is “closed in” by consonants, then it will be a “closed syllable” and the vowel will be short. However, there are groups of words called Wild-Old Words that are “fossil” words left from Anglo Saxon times that do not follow the rules. These words are common but irregular.

A student can learn that some common words ending in ld, st, nd, and lt have a single vowel with a long vowel sound.


  • comb
  • roll, troll, stroll
  • mold, told, sold, scold, old, bold, cold, fold, gold
  • bolt, colt, dolt, jolt, Holt, molt, volt
  • bind, find, mind, wind, blind, grind, hind, kind, rind
  • both, don’t, won’t, host, most, post, ghost
  • pint, mild, wild, child, blinds
  • minded, kindly, kindness, unkind, behind, blindfold, remind

Sentences for dictation and reading:

  • This wild child is a troll.
  • Jane will rope the colt to a post.
  • It is cold in summer also?
  • I combed the old, kind dog with a small comb.
  • I wish I had a pint of gold.
  • Hold the wild colt.




Source: Unlocking the Power of Print, Dorthothy Blosser Whitehead

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Spelling Is Easier with Generalization Rules: OI/OY, OU/OW, AU/AW

In keeping with the past two posts on spelling consonant sounds and spelling vowel sounds, I am going to cover oi/oy, ou/ow, au/aw generalizations; when to use each to make their sounds. I mentioned these generalizations in my last post in a “Miscellaneous” category. Here I am going more in depth on when to use each letter combination.

It can look confusing at first glance to read what I am writing below. If you are not familiar, take your time looking at the rules. Then do the worksheets (or hand give them to a student). On all of these combinations, the dictation is as important as the worksheet. Knowing which combination to use to make the sound is great, but you also want to know how to spell the whole word.

OI/OY Generalization

Use oi at the beginning or in the middle of a word for the “oi” sound.

Use oy at the end of a word for the “oi” sound.

OI – beginning or middle of a word

Practice for reading: adenoids, anoint, boisterous, celluloid, coinage, devoid, embroider, exploit, thyroid, loiter, oilcloth, turmoil, embroil

Practice for spelling: avoid, boil, choice, coil, hoist, join, joint, moist, moisture, noise, noisy, oil, ointment, point, poison, rejoice, soil, spoil, toil, void, broil, coin, groin, loin, toilet, goiter, voice, foist, poise, foil

OY – at the end of a word

Practice for reading: alloy, cloy, corduroy, coy, deploy, Savoy, Troy, viceroy

Practice for spelling: annoy, boy, decoy, employ, enjoy, joy, soy, toy

Common Exceptions in a sentence for remembering: the Loyal Royal Oyster took a Voyage

Other, less common, examples: arroyo (a big ditch in the desert), boycott, Boyd, clairvoyant, flamboyant, gargoyle, Lloyd

Here are worksheets for practicing the “oi” sound. Be sure to not only do the fill in the blanks. Dictation is important for learning to spell the whole word.

oi oy dict oi oy

OU/OW Generalization

Use ou at the beginning or in the middle of a word for the “ou” sound.

Use ow at the end of a word for the “ou” sound.

If a single l, n, el, or er follows the “ou” sound at the end of a word, use ow.

See examples below in spelling practice.

OU – at the beginning or the middle of the word

Reading practice: blouse, crouch, pounce, shroud, slouch, sprout, stout, trousers

Spelling practice: around, bounce, count, flour, found, ground, house, loud, mouse, mouth, ounce, out, scout, shout, sound, sour

Exception: foul (bad)

OW – at the end of a word for the sound

Reading & Spelling practice: allow, brow, cow, how, now, plow
Spelling practice

N: brown, clown, down, drown, frown, gown, town
L: fowl (bird), howl, growl, prowl, scowl
EL: towel, trowel, vowel
ER: flower (plant), tower

Exceptions: coward, crowd, chowder, powder

Here is a sentence to help remember the exceptions to this spelling rule:
The coward put foul powder in the crowd’s chowder.

Here is a worksheet on OU/OW Generalization. Be sure to also do the dictation sheet so that the entire word is learned rather than just what to insert.

ou ow  ou ow dict

AU/AW Generalization

Use au at the beginning or in the middle of a word for the “ô” sound.
Use aw at the end of a word for the “ô” sound.
If a single l, n, or k follows the “ô” sound at the end of the word, use aw.

AUat the beginning or the middle of a word for the sound

Reading practice: audition, cauliflower, caustic, centaur, daub, daunt, fauna, fraudulent, laudatory, laureate, laurel, mausoleum, nautical, pauper, saunter, tarpaulin, taut

Spell practice: auction, August, applaud, author, auto, because, cause, faucet, fault, gaudy, gaunt, haunch, haunted, jaunt, launch, laundry, pause, sauce, saucer, sausage, vault

Exceptions: haul, Paul

AW – at the end of the word for the sound

Reading practice: coleslaw, craw, macaw, pawpaw, prawn, seesaw, taw

Spelling practice: claw, draw, flaw, draw, jaw, law, outlaw, paw, raw, saw, squaw, straw, thaw

L: awl, bawl (cry), brawl, crawl, scrawl, shawl
K: hawk, squawk
N: dawn, drawn, fawn, lawn, pawn, spawn, yawn

Exceptions: lawyer, awe, awesome, awful, awkward, awning

Here is a worksheet and a dictation page on the usage of AU/AW. Be sure to do the dictation as well as the worksheet.

au awau aw dict

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Spelling Vowel Sounds: What Music They Make

In my last post I talked about how to spell consonants. This week, we will cover how to spell vowels.

It is important to note that when I say “spell” consonants and vowels I am talking about how letters can make more than one sound. For example, a makes a long and short sound, as in make and tack. But to spell the letter a, we can use many combinations to make the long a sound. For example, the long a sound can be spelled using the letters ai, as in rain, train, brain.

The difference that comes out of this is, if someone asks, “What does the letter i say?” You would say, ĭ as in igloo, or ī as in pike. If someone asks, “How do you spell i?” You would say, “With the letters I and y, as in pick or gym.

Here are the vowel sounds and how to spell them.

Long Vowel  Sounds

ā – a, a-e (make), ai (rain), ea (steak), ei (feign), eigh (freight), ay (hay), ey (they)

ē – e, e-e (Pete), ea (eagle), ee (bee), ei (ceiling), ie(thief), ey (monkey), y (candy)

ī – i (hi), i_e (pike), y (cry), y_e (type), igh (light), ie (pie)

ō – o (po), o_e (pole), oa (boat), oe (toe), ow (snow)

Long U makes two sounds – yoo and oo

yoo – u, u_e (cute),ew (few), ue (rescue), eu (Europe) – Tip: for long u, deciding if the word is yoo or oo,  if a word begins with c, f, or m it will be yoo rather than oo sound – examples: cube, few, mew, fuel, muse, music.

oo – u, u_e (dune), ew (grew), ue (soup), oo (food), ou (soup), ui (fruit)

Short Vowel Sounds

ă – a (apple)

ĕ – e (med), ea (bread)

ĭ – i (igloo), y (gym)

ŏ – (odd)

ŭ – u (mud), o (oven, love, come, brother ), ou (touch, young, double, tough)

oo – oo (blood), u (tulip)

Misc. Sounds

oi – oi (foil), oy (oyster)

ou – ou (noun), ow (now)

ô – a (all), au (auto), aw (saw)

ә (schwa)  – a (above), e (legend), I (unicorn) o (cotton), u (fortune), y (syringe)

Here is an exercise on how to use this spelling vowel sounds concept.

spelling vowels

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How to Spell a Consonant Sound

Often in spelling and writing the letters and their pronunciations are considered, but what I had never experienced until working with OG is how to spell a letter sound. This post is on how to spell consonant sounds. Next week, I will cover spelling vowel sounds.

There are letters that make sounds, d says “d” (dog), and there are sounds made up of letters, the sound “sh” can be made using the letters sh (shout) or ch (chef). We call that how you “spell” a sound.

This can come in handy when teaching how to spell and read. Knowing that certain letters and letter combinations make certain sounds that may not look right at first, can make a word that is foreign suddenly make sense. Once it is realized that gh can say “f” in a word like laugh or cough, spelling these word groups doesn’t seem so hard.

Here is a list of each consonant and how to spell the sounds :
“h”           h (hip)
“j”             j (jump), g (e,I,y) (gem), -ge (rage), -dge (judge), du (educate)
“l”             l (liver)
“v”            v (violin)
“b”           b (best)
“m”         m (milk), -mb (comb), -mn (column)
“sh”         sh (shower), ch (chef)
“r”            r (rest), wr (wrench), rh (rhino)
“p”           p (pest)
“f”            f (fish), ph (phone), -lf (calf), -gh (laugh)
“sk”          sc (scoot), sk (skate)
“ks”          x (box)
“n”            n (nose), gn (gnome), kn (knife)
“ŧh”          th (thimble) unvoiced
“g”            g (glue), gh (ghost), gu (guitar)
“ch”         ch (church), tch (match), tu (picture)
“kw”         qu (queen) (qu together are considered a consonant in OG)
“s”            s (scar), c (cist – e,I,y, rule), sc (science), ps (psychic)
“gz           x (box)
“k”           c (cram), k (kick), ck (kick), ch (Christmas), lk (chalk), que (antique)
“ng”         n (think, thing)
“w”           w (wing)
“d”           d (dog), -ed (bogged)
“t”            t (tick), -ed (jumped)
“z”            z (zoo), s (was)
“hw”        wh (while)
“th”          th (mother) voiced
“y”            y (yes)


Short Vowel Rule Overview: FLOSS, Pitch, Judge, Stack

My most recent posts covered the Short Vowel Rules in Orton Gillingham. Today I would like to give an overview of all four of these rules. I will also provide a practice worksheet and a quiz on these rules.

Now that you have seen all four rules, grouping them together as “Short Vowel Rules” should make sense. If not, then once you see them in an overview, I think you will see a pattern.

The first rule we covered was FLOSS. This rule says:

FLOSS: Double f, l, and s at the end of one syllable words following one short vowel.

Notice that the word FLOSS is an example of the very type of word we are talking about and it just so happens to contain the f, l, and the s. That’s why it is called the FLOSS rule.

Exceptions to this rule, one syllable words that do not double, but following the rule would: if, chef, pal, nil, sol, has, this, us, thus, yes, bus, pus, plus

Few words double, but according to the rule should not: ebb, odd, egg, err, shirr, buzz, fuzz, jazz

Multisyllabic words ending in “s” after one short vowel sound will regularly double (end in ss). This is because a single s in English words regularly indicates the plural. Example: Address versus Addresses (if we ended Address in only one s, it could indicate more than one address. Ending it in double s indicates one Address.

Suffixes –less and –ness will double the final s.

Be careful when dealing with L words. When there is an a, followed by l, the a will typically not sound like a short vowel sound. Examples: fall, hall, small, squall, mall

Be careful with words that have long vowel sounds, but still have the double at the end: knoll, scroll

Know that u can make the sound “oo” which is considered to a short vowel sound. Examples: pull, full

The “CH” Rule

The “CH” Rule says: -tch is used after one short vowel at the end of one syllable words to spell “ch.”

Examples: match, batch, pitch, scotch, fetch, hutch
“ch” is usually spelled ch or tch.

Use ch at the beginning of a word, after a consonant and after a diphthong. Examples: chair, drench, screech.

There are four exceptions and we use the helpful word: WORMS to teach them.
W hich
R ich
M uch
S uch

Exception word: Dispatch


Anglo-Saxon suffixes can be added to root words which have the “ch” sound without changing the root spelling. Examples: teacher, kitchen, hatchet

Be aware of two endings: -ture and –tion. Both of these have the “ch” sound at the beginning of them. Examples: picture, attention.

A few other words with tu have the “ch” sound. Examples: virtue, spatula

“J” Rule

“J” Rule says: -dge is used after one short vowel at the end of one syllable words to spell “j.”

Examples: wedge, judge

Use –ge after a consonant, diphthong, and in a magic e word. Examples: merge, stooge, rage

Students need to understand the C&G Rule in which the letter g followed by an e, I, or y will have a soft sound of “j.”

There are five multisyllabic words that use –dge at the end. They are: acknowledge, cartridge, knowledge, partridge and porridge

There are many multisyllabic words which use –age to spell “ij” at the end. Examples: garbage, manage

There are a few multisyllabic words which use –ege or –ige to spell “ij” at the end. Examples: college, privilege, sacrilege, vestige

Sometimes in English the letter d (with I or u after it) wounds like “j.” Examples: Soldier, graduate

A frequently used root word, ject, is not spelled with g as one might suspect. Examples: object, project

The “K” Rule

The “K” Rule says: -ck is used after one short vowel at the end of one syllable words to spell “k.”

Examples: lock, stack, pick, deck, duck

The sound “k” is usually spelled with a c, ck, or k.

Use k after a consonant, diphthong, or in a magic e word. Examples: trunk, spook, lake

Use c at the end of multisyllabic words after a short vowel. Examples: music, cosmic, psychic, physic


The letter c is by far the most common spelling for “k.”

Which using the letter c, more than half the time it till be a hard c.

When k is used as an initial letter, it usually occurs before e and I because c could not function as a “k” sound. Most of the words in which initial k is followed by a, o, or u are taken from a foreign language. Examples: kabob (Turkish), kachina (Hopi), kosher (Yiddish)

In a few words from the French, the ending sound of “ek” is spelled –que. Examples: technique, antique

When adding a suffix to a word that begins with e, I, or y, insert a k before the suffix to prevent the C&G rule from being enacted and making the c sound like “s.” Examples: frolic becomes frolicking, picnic becomes picnicked.

Anglo-Saxon suffixes can be added to roots, which end in “k” sound without changing the root spelling. Examples: chicken, locker
Here’s a worksheet and the answer key. See if you can tell which rule applies to each word.

short vowel worksheetshort vow answ sht

Here’s a quiz on the rules.

short vowel quiz

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Short Vowel Rule: “CH” Rule – An Important Batch of Words

This week we will cover the last of the Short Vowel Rules in Orton Gillingham. So far, we have made it through FLOSS, “K” Rule, and the “J” Rule. The fourth and final short vowel rule is the “CH” Rule.

The “CH” Rule says: -tch is used after one short vowel at the end of one syllable words to spell “ch.”

This means, in a one syllable word where there is a short vowel sound followed by a “ch” sound, the letters –tch are being used to make that sound.

Examples of this rule are:

ă              snatch, match, hatch, patch

ĕ             sketch, stretch, fetch, etch

ĭ               ditch, snitch, stitch, switch

ŏ             splotch, scotch, blotch

ŭ             clutch, hutch, crutch, Dutch

Of course, as with most rules, there are exceptions. There are four words which should use –tch but they don’t:

  • Which
  • Rich
  • Much
  • Such

In class, we were given the acronym, WØRMS (the O is not really used) to help remember the words.

This word should NOT have –tch (because it is a multi-syllabic word) but it does: dispatch

Someone learning this rule might have a desire to put –tch after every short vowel they hear, especially in a one syllable word like, lunch.

It is important to distinguish that if there is a consonant between the short vowel and the “ch” sound, then –ch is used.

Examples: scrunch, bunch, finch, bench, pinch, punch,

In order to be sure that the rule is learned, dictation with nonsense words can be given. Words like: splutch, quitch (remember: qu is considered a consonant, so the ui is NOT a vowel team in this instance), bletch

Here is a “cloud sheet” from my class.

ch rule cloud


Short Vowel Rule: “J” Rule – Make a Pledge to Learn This Rule

Following in the path of my post last week, today we cover the third of four Short Vowel Rules in Orton Gillingham. It is the “J” Rule. So far, we have covered FLOSS and the “K” Rule .

The “J” rule says: -dge is used after one short vowel at the end of a one syllable word to spell “j.”

This means, in a one syllable word where there is a short vowel sound followed by a “j” sound, the letters –dge are being used to make that sound.

Examples of this rule are:
ă       badge, cadge
ĕ       pledge, edge, wedge, sedge, hedge, ledge
ĭ        ridge, bridge, smidge
ŏ       dodge, lodge
ŭ       budge, fudge, smudge, judge, nudge, trudge

Of course, as with most rules, there are exceptions.

There are 5 multi-syllabic words which use –dge to spell “j”:
• Partridge
• Cartridge
• Knowledge
• Acknowledge
• Porridge

In contrast to the use of –dge when there is a one syllable, short vowel word, there is another way to spell “j” that should be addressed.

The sound “j” is usually spelled –ge or –dge.

Using –ge to spell “j” requires going back to another rule called the C&G Rule, which says that when you have the letter C or G followed by e, i, or y, the c will make the “s” sound and the g will make the “j” sound. This is why –ge at the end of words spells, “j” and not “g.”

Use –ge after a consonant, diphthong, and in a magic e word.

Examples: merge, stooge, rage

There are other letters and combinations that make the “j” sound, but I am going to save them for an overview once I have covered all of the Short Vowel Rules. It is the “j” sound in multisyllabic words and it gets too confusing to put them all in one post. For now, the “J” Rule and its exceptions are important to learn. As well as the contrasting –ge use in one syllable words. If it is a one syllable word and it isn’t a short vowel then it isn’t –dge, it is –ge being used to make the “j” sound.

Here is a “cloud sheet” on the “J” Rule.

J Rule Cloud 

Here is a dictation sheet on the “J” Rule. The dictation should use real words first then move to non-sense words to ensure the rule is being used rather than memorization.

J Rule Dictation

 Nonsense words can be something like: smedge, crudge, bidge, ladge. Have students put the words you speak out loud into the correct column on the sheet.

The point to dictation is to be sure that the correct short vowel can be heard with the “j” sound. It commits to memory that sound and associates it with one syllable, short vowel words.

In addition, something fun could be incorporated, like draw a picture or have kids draw a picture using the words. Or write a story using as many of these words as possible.

Example of a drawing or story: a bridge, by the water’s edge with a judge sitting on top playing dodge-ball with a man that has is a bit of a pudge.

Or, a lodge where they make fudge and all the cooks pledge not to nudge the customers to eat too much fudge so they will not wedge themselves in the lodge.

Each person can then share their picture or story and show it – ask them to trace the letters as they talk about each word. Anything to make sure that the rule is seen, heard and used in a physical manner.

That’s OG – be creative and get really involved with each concept on multiple levels of understanding. Not only does this insure that there is a broad understanding of the concepts, but it also does not assume that everyone learns the same way as the next person. It allows each person to learn the way they learn best.


Short Vowel Rule: “K” Rule — The Pick for Learning when to use –CK

In Orton Gillingham, basically the whole English language is divided up into categories and each category is divided into rules. I have given one “Short Vowel Rule,” known as the FLOSS rule. Today, I am moving to a second (of four) short vowel rules: the “K” Rule.

The “K” rule says, -ck is used after one short vowel at the end of one syllable words to spell “k.”

This means, one syllable words that contain a short vowel and the “k” sound at the end will have a –ck to make the “k” sound. If there is not a SHORT vowel sound, then it is not –ck.

Examples of when to use -ck:

ă              sack, pack

ĕ             deck, fleck

ĭ               sick, click

ŏ             sock, lock

ŭ             duck, luck

K is used at the end of one syllable words following a consonant, a vowel team, or a long vowel sound (magic e) to spell “k.”


Consonants (after L, N, R)                            stark, bark, milk

Vowel Team                                                      speak, peak, spook

Long Vowel (magic e)                                    bike, poke, mike, make

As in most, there are exceptions to this rule. Words that have short suffixes use –ck in the middle of the word to spell “k.”                Examples: Chicken, thicket, thicker

C is used after one short vowel at the end of MULTI-syllable words (except in the compound words) to spell “k.”

Multi-syllable                   picnic, fantastic, zodiac, maniac

Compound                         backpack, hayrack, thumbtack

Here is the worksheet I was given in class, called a “cloud” sheet, which helps with the rule. It’s a great tool to give students for an overview of the rule, its exceptions, and it provides  for thinking about the rule and what it means by having to fill in some of the information themselves. It is also a good visual for a classroom discussion.

k rule cloud

A good way for students to practice hearing the rule is to dictate to them using nonsense words. You will know if they really get the rule or have memorized words. Remember, OG’s method is to see, hear and physically get involved with these terms. So you want to introduce something visually, have them hear it out loud and let you know they understand it in an auditory way, and have them writing what they are learning.

Below is a worksheet for dictation. You can call out a nonsense word (or a real word) and have the student(s) put it in the column it would correspond to. What you are doing is making sure they hear the correct short vowel and the -ck; what those sound like together. The extra column is for words that do not belong in the columns – words like “pike.”

For younger kids, I would not call out words that do not belong in the columns. They will still be working on hearing the sounds.  I would also begin with real words then move to the nonsense words.

A couple of examples of nonsense words would be:

Meck – goes in –eck

Gruck – goes in –uck

Grack – goes in –ack

K rule dictation



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