Orton Gillingham Coaching: Teaching Closed (CVC) Syllables

Teaching Closed (CVC) Syllables

Closed syllable is the first syllable pattern you teach in Orton Gillingham in the REVLOC syllable patterns.

Initial Terms

A student must know what a vowel and consonant are to be able to grasp the concept of syllables. They do not need to know the concept of what a syllable is in full to teach the closed syllable pattern, but you will want to use the words, “The consonant at the end makes the vowel short. This is a closed syllable.

If you do give a definition of a syllable, it can be something like, “words are made of syllables,” or “a syllable is a part of a word with a vowel in it.”

Once the student knows words like at and in, you can start saying that the consonant at the end is why the vowel is short.

Closed Syllable Pattern

The closed syllable pattern as CVCConsonant, Vowel, Consonant.

It’s important to point out that it is the ENDING consonant that makes the vowel short, syllables like am and up are still closed syllables even though they do not begin with a consonant.


How fast you can go teaching closed syllables depends on the maturity of the student. You’ll need repetition.

I’ve tutored kids who know all the consonant and vowel sounds, they know the difference in vowels and consonants, but when I try to get them to label the vowels and consonants in a word, it’s not that easy. They need time to see a pattern to grasp that the consonant is making the vowel short.

Using the word BIG.

Teacher: Is “i” a vowel or a consonant? Can you write the letter that says “i.”

Teacher: the G is what makes that i say /i/, it’s a closed syllable. Can you read this word? /B/ /I/ /G/ — BIG

You can use a tactile experience for these activities like sand, sandpaper or shaving cream.

Activity #1

One activity you can do is you ask the student to put C under the consonant and V under the vowels in these words? Read every word after labeling.

Activity #2

Have them read cards or words on a paper. Especially non-sense words.

Activity #3

You should always dictate words and have the students write from hearing it.

Dictation should also be done with non-sense words to make sure you know the student is hearing the sounds, not just memorizing words.

Activity #4

The other thing you could do is tell a student: we mark short vowels with a BREVE (?) symbol to show it is short. Have the student mark each syllable with a breve symbol – go through a sheet and mark the short vowels with the BREVE and read each of the words.

Activity #5

Once students understand the concept that the vowel is short because of this consonant closing it in, you can put two syllables next to one another that are words and have them put those together. This will be a great start to dividing RABBIT words down the road.

At first, keep it simple. Once kids know blends, you can add those words as part of your lesson to continue practicing CVC while also practicing blends.

For example, at first you might use words like.

Nap kin,    hab  it,     cab in,      bas ket

Once you introduce blends you can still practice this method of putting two closed syllables next to one another for reading words, but you add in blends.

Den tist,     flat ten,    con test

Be sure to include dictation in doing these two syllable words. Have the student write each syllable separately. Ask them to say each syllable out loud after writing. If the student writes a syllable incorrectly, be gentle, make sure you are pronouncing each sound clearly and separately, if necessary.

Activity #6

Have students mark these two syllable words with a BREVE too. Also, have them label the words, C or V. These lessons will come in very handy when you begin syllable division.

Final Word

Remember, teaching closed syllables, a student has nothing to compare syllables types to yet, but soon they will – once they see the Magic E syllable, the concept will be much clearer. And once you start Syllable Patterns, starting with VCCV, the concept will be even clearer.

Once you get to OPEN syllables, the idea that you can have a syllable with one vowel, but not a syllable with only a consonant becomes very clear.

Once again, OG is a cumulative approach each lesson is building upon the last.

Want more? Visit the Workbook/Worksheets Store.

Leave a Reply