How to Teach Soft c
The consonant letter <c> spells /s/ before <e, i, or y>. In this lesson, you’ll find a learning video, word lists, and a decodable passage for Soft <c>.
Soft <c> comes about midway through the Viva Phonics program. I had originally placed it much later, toward the end, but since it is not the easiest concept, I figured I’d introduce it a bit earlier so that there was more opportunity for practice.
I first introduce soft <c> in words where Silent <e> marks the long-vowel sound. In these words, Silent <e> does double duty. It marks the long-vowel sound and it marks the <c> as /s/. It’s a bit easier for kids because the words in this category are familiar. Most have an easier time decoding “ice” and “nice” than they do decoding words such as “cent”, “cell”, and “city.”
As you move away from soft <c> in silent <e> words, the words increase in both reading and spelling complexity. I stick to one and two-syllable words in these other categories. The kids like to be challenged, so I do a quick review. I don’t expect mastery of the more difficult concepts, yet.
If you are familiar with Viva Phonics, you’ll know that I always introduce a new concept with the video flashcards. You’ll find that introduction video just below these cards.
Soft c Video
Have the student listen and read along with the audio. Then mute the audio for the student to practice decoding. Mute the audio the first time, if you would rather be the one to model the reading.
I recommend starting out with a word sort before jumping into the dictation exercises. This one is going to take a few rounds of practice.
If you have a subscription to Viva Phonics you already have access to creating a customizable word sort.
Once you get into spelling, this is the general routine I follow:
Say the word…
Spell the word…
How do you spell the word…?
Some students do not need each step while others appreciate the step-by-step spelling cues.
A Lesson on Adding a Prefix and/or Suffix
You can build a quick Structured Word Inquiry matrix to organize the prefixes and suffixes. See the sample below. You’ll need to introduce and practice adding suffixes as the kids will see the word “places” in the decodable passage for soft <c> and it can stump some of them.
place + es → places
place + ing → placing
place + ed → placed
re + place + es →
re + place + ing →
re + place + ed →
Decodable Passage for Soft C
Once your student is reading the words with soft <c> easily and accurately, give them a chance at reading the decodable passage for soft <c>. Another thing I like to do when the kids are reading the decodable stories is to take an accuracy score. Set a goal for the first read and if that goal is not reached, have the student read the story again after you have reviewed the missed words.
This story is available as an online decodable book with a subscription to Viva Phonics.
Jill loved to dance. She danced in cramped places and in big spaces. She was never shy when it came to dancing! So, when her class planned a dance with a space theme, Jill had to go. She dressed up like a space monster, with a pink wig and white and green makeup on her face. Her dad drove her to the place.
“Have fun, and dance like an ace!” he told Jill. She gave him a big smile. “I will dance and prance and have a nice time!”
The songs at the space dance came on twice. Jill tasted the punch and ate the chips. She danced and danced.
By the time Jill’s dad came to pick her up, Jill’s makeup had smeared and her wig was a twisted mess! He asked, “Did you have fun?”
“It was the best space dance ever!” Jill yelled.