When a child is learning to read, and is at the short vowel, one-syllable, consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) word stage, the child often encounters words from the word family –ook (book and look, for example) or words that end with –ck (sock and truck, for example). Strictly speaking, these word don’t follow the CVC rule for pronunciation, so they should be taught separately, starting with the –ck family words.
Usually there is no problem reading CVC -ck words once the child understands that –ck is a single sound. But reading, pronouncing and spelling the –ook words can be a problem. How can you help your child?
First, wait until your child is comfortable with CVC –ck words (see list above) to explain this difference. Teach the CVC words that end in –ck first and make sure the child understands how to read, pronounce and spell those words. Then introduce –ook family words.
- Point out to your child that the –ook sound is not the same as the short –ock or short –uck sound. Say the sounds aloud so the child can hear the difference, and ask the child to say the sounds too. Don’t show letters at this point since it is the sound that guides the child as to which letters to use. The child needs to be able to hear the difference.
- If you have pictures of words that end in –ock (clock, dock, flock, knock,), in -uck (buck, puck, suck, tuck, truck) and –ook (book, cook, crook, hook, rook) you could create a set of flash cards for the child to sort by sound. As the child sorts, ask the child to pronounce the word to be sure she is hearing the word correctly.
- Tell your child that after a word with the –ook sound, just a “k” is used, as in book and look, two words the child might already know as sight words. You could create a set of flash cards with the –ook family words on them and use them as sight words if that helps.
- If you have letter tiles, practice moving them to show –ook family words and ask the child to read them after your example.
- When the child seems comfortable with the difference in sound, practice moving tiles to show the difference in spelling. For example, construct l-o-ck, and under it construct l-oo-k. Say each word and ask the child to tell what he notices. Do the same with other word pairs such as cr-o-ck and cr-oo-k; h-o-ck and h-oo-k; r-o-ck and r-oo-k; and t-o-ck and t-oo-k.
- Practice moving tiles so that just one word—lock—appears. Ask the child to pronounce it. Take out the -ck and put in –ook and ask the child to pronounce the new word. Keep moving tiles around until the child grasps the correct pronunciation of each word.
- When you are reading –ck and –ook words, reinforce the spelling.
At this point the child usually hasn’t learned how to read long vowel sounds, so there is no need to add to confusion by introducing words like bake and smoke now.