The C-V-C Game


By Jacki Montierth


Current job is as a Computer Technology Teacher at

Southwest Junior High School in South San Diego.


Instructional Objective The learners shall be able to use a card game to practice and reinforce the use of consonants and vowels which will increase their ability to decode words.

Learners/Context The learners are children or adults who need to improve their reading skills. Particularly useful in a classroom setting, multiple sets of this game may be used with cooperative teams.

Rationale Developed for classroom use where English is rarely the primary language, this game focuses on a growing problem in education, poor reading skills, particularly those of the English-as-a-second-language learners.

A card game is an excellent way to teach decoding skills for two reasons. First, practice of the content is necessary for transfer as students continue to improve their reading and secondly, game formats allow for "instructional punctuation" in addition to providing activity-based instruction in the classroom.

Rules The following rules may be read, step by step, as the game is played for the first time.


  1. Students divide into pairs or small groups of no more than 4. Each group needs one deck of C-V-C cards.
  2. A dealer is chosen and the dealer shuffles the deck of cards. The dealer deals 5 cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down for drawing during play. One card is turned over to form the discard pile. Players may not show their cards to the other players.
  3. The first player to the left of the dealer looks at his /her cards and, if possible, lays down three cards which make a consonant-vowel-consonant word or for more points, four cards forming a consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel (e) word. That player must then say the word and draw the number of cards he laid down.

    If he/she is unable to form a word, he/she draws either a card from either the draw or discard pile. That player then discards one card. All players must have 5 cards at all times.
  4. The next player to the left now takes his/her turn. First the player lays down any cards forming a C-V-C word. That player must then say the word and draw the number of cards he laid down.
    If the player cannot form a word he/she draws a card from either the discard pile or the draw pile. That player then discards one card.
    The game continues until one or more of the following occurs:
    • there are no more cards in the draw pile.
    • a player runs out of cards
    • all players cannot form a word

  5. The winner is the player who has laid down the most cards.


Additional rules:

Players may only lay down words at the beginning of their turn.

Proper names may not be formed.

Optional Uses The game can be used with individuals in a small group of four or less competing against each other or with the entire class where cooperative teams compete against each other. The second approach may be particularly beneficial in a heterogeneous classroom which includes special education students and is well suited when students have had limited practice with phonics.

Card Design: There are four basic card designs in this game:

* consonant cards

* vowel cards

* wild cards

* final e cards

The C-V-C card shown below is the design on the back of each card.



Deck design The deck consists of the following:

* 44 consonant cards (including blends)

* 15 vowel cards (including 3 of each vowel)

* 5 wild cards (which can be used as any vowel)

* 6 final e cards (used to make C-V-C-V words)

Design Process The concept of this card game was developed with the intention providing an enjoyable tool to teach C-V-C words to students who have previously been unsuccessful learning to decode words.

After deciding on the basic design of the game, it was necessary to determine how many cards of each type would be needed to allow for multiple successes of players. There needed to be enough vowel cards to allow players to form words frequently without making the game to easy.

To do this, a prototype was developed and played several times, changing the ratio of vowel cards to consonant cards each time. At this point the wild cards and final e cards were created to add another dimension to the game.

After several tries, the current ratio was found to be the best choice. Students who played the game with the current cards enjoyed the competition and felt successful. Every player made at least one word before the game ended.

During these trials, specific rules were also derived, particularly that a player can only lay down a word at the beginning of their turn, before they discard.