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 and word lists.

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.

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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.

ice
face
race
place
once
prince
fence

cent

cell

center

central

celebrate

cinch

pencil

civil

acid

citrus

lacy

cyber

cycle

fancy

recycle

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.

Dictation/Spelling Exercise

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.

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
place + es → places
place + ing → placing
place + ed → placed
re + place + es →
re + place + ing →
re + place + ed →