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:

?              sack, pack

?             deck, fleck

?               sick, click

?             sock, lock

?             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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