The C & G Rule, How to Teach It, and 10 Activities for Individual and Group Lessons

The C & G Rule: What is it?

The ‘C’ Rule: much of the time, the letter ‘C’ represents the /k/ sound. However, when followed by ‘e’, ‘i’, or ‘y’ (like in “cent,” “cinder,” or “cylinder”), it makes the /s/ sound.

The ‘G’ Rule: The letter ‘G’ usually makes the /g/ sound (as in “goat”), but when followed by ‘e’, ‘i’, or ‘y’ (like in “gem,” “giant,” or “gym”), it makes the /j/ sound.

When to Teach the C&G Rule

The C & G Rule is taught fairly early in the Scope & Sequence, around the same time Magic E syllables are taught, or just after. There are plenty of magic-e words that use the C&G Rule, so it’s good to teach it earlier. C & G Rule also has to be taught before -dge phonogram card is introduced.

A Flag! It’s important to note that the e, i, or y is after the C or G. If is before the C or G, then this rule does not apply. For Example, in the word ignite, the i is before the g, this keeps the g hard, saying /g/. But in the word gist, the i is after the g, making the g say, /j/.

How To Teach the C&G Rule

The first thing I like to do is introduce “Gentle Cindy.” It puts a “face” to the rule and is fun for students.

Before getting into the fun activities, we need to teach the rule simply. After the rule is learned we can move into fun activities to really drive it home.

We introduce the rule and use phonogram cards to illustrate the rule. On the cards, some of the cards follow the rule and some do not. The student must say if the sound of the letters.


C = /s/ before e, I, and y, always.

C = /k/ any other time.

G = /g/

G = /j/ before e, I, and y, usually. Some exceptions: get, gift, give, begin, piggy.

-dge = /j/

Activities Using the C & G Rule

Multisensory Writing Practice

Have students trace the letters ‘C’ and ‘G’ with their fingers in sand or on a textured surface or on sandpaper letters. Then, they can trace or write words following the C and G rules on paper, emphasizing the different sounds. You can have them look at the words, say the words out loud, then write turn the word over and write it, look at it to see if it was written correctly. This is the SOS Technique used for sight words, but can be helpful for this as well. This is a progressive exercise. You may not do all of these activities in one lesson until the rule is well-known.

Word Sorting

Create cards with words that have the ‘C’ and ‘G’ sounds in different positions and followed by different letters. Students sort these cards into groups based on the sound ‘C’ or ‘G’ makes in each word. You can use your C & G phonogram cards for this activity. Have them look at the card, say the sound and put it in a pile based on if it used the C&G Rule or did not use the rule. Give a point for each correct card in the piles and reward students with a treat for the number correct.

Interactive Story Creation

Ask students to create a story using as many words as possible that follow the C &G Rule. This can also be done as a group activity, with each student adding a sentence.

Matching Game

Design a game where students match words with the C & G Rule sounds to pictures illustrating these words. This helps reinforce the sound-symbol relationship.

Listening and Identifying

Play a game where you say words out loud, and students have to identify whether the word follows the C rule or the G rule. You can use a thumbs up for one and a thumbs down for the other as a quick and engaging response method. Time the student and see if they can get faster. When they make a certain goal (be sure to be realistic!) they win a prize.

Group Activities with the C & G Rule

Interactive Story Creation

Ask students to create a story using as many words as possible that follow the C &G Rule with each student adding a sentence to create a full story. Make it a competition to see whose sentence has the most C&G words and give a prize to the winner.

Sound Bingo

Create bingo cards with a mix of words following the C & G Rule. As you call out the words, students mark them on their cards. This game encourages listening and recognition skills. You can have different versions for the /k/ and /s/ sounds of C and the /g/ and /j/ sounds of G.

Word Relay Race

Divide the group into teams. Place word cards at one end of the room or playground. One at a time, students race to get a card and bring it back to their team. The team must then decide if the word follows the C & G Rule or does not follow it, and place it in the correct category/pile. Be sure to go back after the game and have students read all words out loud. You can also have them write the words on a board under the correct category rather than put them in a pile to get the kinesthetic practice.

Mystery Word Bag

Fill a bag with objects or pictures of objects that start with the C & G sounds. Students take turns drawing an item and identifying which rule it follows. For instance, a picture of a cat (does it say /k/ or /c/) or a gem (does it say /g/ or /j/ sound).

Sound Charades

Prepare cards with words that follow the C & G Rule. Students take turns drawing a card and acting out the word without speaking. The rest of the group guesses the word and identifies the sound rule it follows. You could have the students write what they think it is before identifying it. Or write the word after identification to make sure it stays kinesthetic.

Fishing for Sounds

Create a ‘fishing pond’ using a blue sheet of paper. Attach paper fish with magnetic tape; each fish has a word that follows the C or G rule. Students use a fishing rod with a magnet to ‘catch’ a fish and then read the word, identifying which rule it follows. After fishing all the words, have the students make a sentence using one or two of the words they “caught.”  

Word List of C & G Rule

/s/ sound (before e, i, y)

  •   Cent
  •   City
  •   Cycle
  •  Cider
  • Rice
  • Face
  • Lace
  • Ice
  • Cider
  • Mice
  • Price
  • Trace


  • Ounce
  • Peace
  • Juice
  • Cymbal

/j/ sound (before e, i, y)

  • Gym
  • Gem
  • Ginger
  • Gel
  • Gentle
  • Page
  • Stage
  • Rage
  • Hinge
  • Gerbil
  • Huge
  • Badge


  • Giant
  • Giraffe
  • Urgent

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What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach? It is a multisensory, structured, and sequential approach to teaching literacy. It emphasizes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. The approach also uses rules to enhance memory retention and help with spelling. It starts with the smallest unit of sound, a phoneme, and moves forward to encompass advanced concepts in the English language.

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