Which to use ck, ke, or k for the final k sound?
Emergent readers often struggle with final k sounds and spellings, and rightly so. There is a lot to unpack here with these spelling rules and patterns.
They may start off well with phonics and individual letter sounds, they may transition to decoding CVC words, and then the rules seem to change overnight when they get to the final letter k sounds. They are often confused with the fact that ck, can make one sound. While other words can use only the letter k by itself, without the letter c. Then you add in the words that end with ke, for example the word: like, with a silent e. Bingo-bango we now have a student who is confused.
Final k sounds with a silent e
Yes, this does not happen every time but it did happen the other day on a spelling test in my class. One student started adding /cke/ to the end of the words. I think she was trying to cover all the possibilities for the final /k/ sound. I have seen this before with students who do not understand all the reasons for final silent e.
To help speed up this process, I have created a few games that I can play with the students that will help them practice some repeated reading of words that have the final /k/ sound. Grouping words together with similar spelling patterns often makes it easier for them to decode new words that they did not know they could read.
War-style educational games
They love these war-style games. To get extra use out of the game cards, I added beginning k sounds too. This is a bonus with hard c words all in the same resource.
It’s important to teach students that the really vowels matter a lot. Listening for the vowel sound or the vowel name can be the key to helping decide which final /k/ spelling to use.
- If you hear the vowel sound before the final /k/ sound then use /ck/.
- If you hear the vowel name before the final /k/ sound then it could be /ke/ or /k/.
Here are a few example words:
- -ck ending: back, peck, dock, luck
- -ke ending: bake, hike, coke, puke
- -k ending: bank, pink, soak, park
The letters /ck/usually follow a very predictable pattern. It is sometimes called a short vowel pointer. Meaning it points backwards to the vowel that is making its short sounds, and the vowel is not saying its long name.
To help the students learn this skill of listening for the short vowel pointer, I also added some sound sorting cards to this game. These cards can be used as wildcards in the war game or used for sound sorting during a tutoring lesson.
Beginning c pattern: a, o, u. Beginning k pattern i, e, y.
These visuals are another way to remind students to look and listen for the vowel sounds and names.
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