Effectively Teach Spelling Rules for C, K, and Digraph CK

Do your students find spelling rules for C, K, and CK difficult to grasp? Teaching these variations of the sound /k/ can be tricky but mastering them is essential for young writers. You might think that memorizing endless lists of words is the only way to teach such a complicated rule – but thankfully it’s not! In this blog post, we’ll discuss tips and strategies on how to effectively teach spelling rules with C, K, and digraph CK so your students can tackle words confidently!

Introduce the Skill

The /k/ sound is a common sound found in many words in English. This sound can be found at the beginning, middle, and end of words. But, it can be tricky to know which letter or letters are used to represent the sound since there are three options!

  • C often comes by itself at the beginning of a word–especially when the next letter is a, o, or u.
  • K often comes before i or e at the beginning of words
  • CK comes at the end of a one-syllable word with a short vowel, CK NEVER comes at the beginning

An easy little ditty for c and k is in this video by Playdough2Plato. “C goes with A, O and U. K goes with the other two.” I also love using short videos to introduce new phonics skills. Here are a few that are helpful:

Practice Identifying the /K/ Sound

Before we begin reading and writing words with the /k/ sound, I always start with pictures. This way, we are focused more on listening for the sound and identifying if it comes in the beginning, middle, or end of w word. Then, we can sort it based on clues and rules. I also like to include “rule breakers” to make sure students know that sometimes the rules don’t apply.

Engaging children in sorting activities that involve identifying the /k/ sound in words can help them master this tricky aspect of phonics. Ultimately, the goal is to equip them with the skills they need to read and write independently, and practicing identifying the /k/ sound is a crucial step in this journey.

Read words with /k/

After you have explicitly taught the rules for c, k, and digraph -ck, it’s time to connect it to words.

Write words with c, k, and ck

Now that your students have practiced identifying c, k and ck in words, it’s time to write. Remind students to think of the rules, sound out the word, and listen for where the /k/ sound is in the word.

Use the skill in context

Once your students have had adequate practice, it’s time to apply their understanding to a new text. Using a decodable reader is the best way to evaluate if your students are able to apply the phonics skill. This book was created specifically to practice this skill and includes a recording sheet to sort the /k/ words found while reading!

You are ready to teach spelling rules for C, K, and digraph CK! It doesn’t have to be difficult. Encouraging reading and writing with CK words, using the skill in context, and engaging in explicit phonics activities such as word sorts and decodable text, will ensure your students gain a better understanding of all the spellings of the /k/ sound. You are now better prepared than ever before to effectively teach these important spelling rules!

Phonics Activities for C, K, and -CK


Want to read more about teaching phonics skills? Check out this blog post next!

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