How to Teach Soft C

What is soft c?

The consonant letter <c> spells /s/ before <e, i, or y>. In this lesson, you’ll find a learning video and word lists.

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About 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.”

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1. Introduce Soft c

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. 
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.

2. Review With a Game

Create a tic tac toe board with a few words: twice, place, once, race, ice, fancy, center, cent, nice

3. Complete Dictation Exercises

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.

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.

4. Review Soft C Word Lists

ice
face
race
place
once

cent
cell
center
central
celebrate

cinch
pencil
civil
acid
citrus

lacy
cyber
fancy
cycle
recycle

5. Read a Soft C decodable passage

Viva Phonics Helps Struggling Readers

We can help get your child on track for reading success.