g before e will often soft be

The letter g often (but not always) has the soft sound of /j/ before an e. 

A large stāgecoach plunged over the brĭdge.

The g in words that end in -ge or -dge is often soft. Silent e makes the vowel long in words like “pāge,” but Defender d can stop the vowel from being long in “ĕdge” and more words.


Play a wordsearch game with words that are long or short and the g is soft.


Some words that end with -nge also have a soft g. Many have a short vowel, except: range, change, and strange, & sponge and orange with the schwa sound. A couple more words with a soft g are bilge and bulge.



In some words with a Bossy R vowel followed by ge like “charge,” the g is also soft.


Play a wordsearch game with these words. 


G also has the soft /j/ sound in some words that begin with ge: gem, gel, gentle, gerbil, geography. But there are quite a few exceptions to this guideline in words that begin with ge, and some have the hard /g/ sound: get, gecko, gear, geek, geese.

G before e will often soft /j/ be is introduced as one of the ways that Silent e can vary in the Phonics Pow Toolkit with worksheets, a boardgame, and spot & dot sentences. Hard or soft c and g are one of the ways that consonants can vary.

Find and Lift the Lost Gold

Closed syllables with a vowel followed by at least one consonant, are often short…except in some words with i & o followed by two consonants.

I was tōld the cōlt is kīnd of wīld.



If you have ever lŏst a gĭft or made a lĭst, you know that this is not always so.


i and o are usually short when the two consonants after the vowel are Digraphs-two letters that make one sound. This includes:

floss words: Bĭll is ĭll, give him a kĭss and a pĭll. The bŏss is ŏdd, he is always crŏss. (an exception is: roll)

-ck=/k/: throw a stĭck ŏff the dŏck.

Consonant digraphs: sĭng a lŏng sŏng, and swĭsh the fĭsh brŏth. (the word bōth is an exception)

Strategy: to fīnd lŏng, pĭck bōth. First try the long sound to see if it is a recognizable word, next try short.


Remember to fīnd and lĭft the lŏst gōld!

These words can be practiced with a Long or Short i or o Soccer Game. Teams are chosen for either the long vowel sound or the short vowel sound and take turns drawing words to match the pattern.

The words can be printed on “soccer balls” and cut out with a 1 inch circle punch to add to the fun.

The Long or Short i or o Soccer Game is available at Teachers Pay Teachers.

WATCH videos & PLAY games online at the Vowels That Vary Wakelet Tutorial, including a wordsearch.

See a slideshow of words that show the contrast between CVC words and CVCC words with a long i & o at More Ways Vowels Can Be Long.

Flossy Words

Flossy Words are one of the short vowel variations covered at the end of the Sound Out Words section of the Phonics Pow Toolkit. (II.c) The letters f, l, s, and sometimes z often (but not always) double at the end of one syllable words with a short vowel.


Turn the drill off in class or it will buzz

Some flossy words are included in the word lists for Word Sort Games and Clip Strips.


WATCH videos and PLAY games at the Flossy Words tutorial at Wakelet.


PLAY a Flossy wordsearch online.

Flossy words are included in the bookmarks with pattern sorts for short vowel variations and can be downloaded for free. The Bee Buzz game and free Flossy Word Treasure are available at Teachers Pay Teachers.


There are some exceptions to the Flossy Word guideline. When the final s makes the sound of /z/ like in is, the letter s does not double. In the words: if, this, us, bus, yes, and gas the final letter does not double. In a few words, other letters double, like: odd, add, and egg.


The letter a can say short o. The -all word family is special. When the letter a comes before -ll, it makes the sound of a short ŏ, like in ball. WATCH a Prezi and a Super Simple turn and learn video.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Word Lists

When teaching reading, it is important to have access to lists of words for a phonics pattern. The word lists from On Track Reading are helpful, and there are now two word lists available at Phonics Pow.


The first list includes all the words in the free Clip Strips. These are all word families that help to introduce phonics patterns in a sequence while teaching reading. Download the Clip Strip Word Lists pdf.


The next one includes all the words in the Word Sort Games that are designed to go along with the Phonics Pow Toolkit. Download the Word Sort Games Word Lists pdf.

Both are helpful to introduce phonics patterns in a sequence during a reading tutor session.

Some Love Gloves

Some one syllable words with the letter o and a silent e at the end make the long o sound, like drove and home. Others that you might expect to have a long vowel sound do not. Instead, they make the “uh” schwa sound, which sounds very similar to short u. Some, love, and glove are a few of these. Practice these words after learning about Silent e (III.a).

Notice that this often happens when the letter o comes before the letters m, n, & v. Of course, some words DO follow the Silent e guideline and have the long o sound.

Play an online wordsearch game with these words.

The Some Love Gloves set that includes a worksheet and boardgame is available at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Catch the Pitch: spelling the final /ch/ sound

Catch a pitch or scratch an itch, the tch is not a glitch! Pinch an inch or catch a pitch, how to know which is which? The /ch/ consonant digraph sound is often spelled -tch immediately after a short vowel in one syllable words. As you might expect, there are some exceptions: such, much, rich, and which.

Eat a peach for lunch on a bench and you may have a hunch: after a consonant or vowel combinations it changes a bunch.


The /ch/ sound is NOT spelled -tch when it comes after a consonant, as in branch, clinch, munch or stench.

wrench artwork copyrighted by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator, http://www.MARKiX.net.

It is just ch with mulch or a wrench, also with a bossy r on a porch.


The /ch/ sound is NOT spelled -tch when it comes after diphthongs and vowel teams: pouch, pooch, coach, or reach. If you sit on a couch or lay on a beach, the ch spelling will be found in each.

Now -ch or -tch spelling will be a cinch to teach!


This guideline is learned after learning about consonant digraphs (IV.a)

Play an online wordsearch with words that end in -tch.

Practice words with a set of free word sort games for the Phonics Pow Toolkit that include -ch or -tch words. The Catch the Pitch set includes a word list, worksheet, and a board game. Find it at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.


Voiced and Unvoiced Consonants

Some consonants are voiced; they are formed with vibration in the vocal chords, and no push of air. Voiced consonants are: /b/ /d/ /g/ /j/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /r/ /v/ /w/ /y/ and /z/. All vowels are voiced too.

Some consonants are unvoiced; they make no vibration in the vocal chords, but there is a push of air. Unvoiced consonants are: /f/ /h/ /k/ /p/ /s/ /t/ /x/ /qu/ and digraphs /ch/ /sh/. The digraph /th/ can be voiced as in “that” or unvoiced as in “thing.”

Some word pairs compare voiced and unvoiced consonants (at the beginning) that are made with the same mouth placement of tongue, lips, and teeth. Try putting a hand on the throat to feel the difference while saying these words: bat/pat, dip/tip, gab/cab, van/fan, zip/sip, and jug/chug.

Also try these that are not made with the same mouth placement, but one word begins with a voiced consonant and the other is unvoiced: jog/hog, lit/kit, mat/hat, nut/hut, and rat/pat.

It is easier to learn consonants that are voiced, but understanding the difference becomes especially important in the following two instances.

The letter s can make different sounds, depending on whether it follows a voiced or unvoiced consonant. After an unvoiced consonant, often s = /s/. After a voiced consonant, often s = /z/.

The suffix -ed can make different sounds, depending on whether it follows a voiced or unvoiced consonant. After a voiced consonant, it often makes the sound of /d/ as in “jailed.” After an unvoiced consonant, it often makes the sound of /t/ as in “walked.” A third sound, /id/ is made after the voiced consonant d as in “needed” and the unvoiced consonant t as in “wanted.”

Can you hear the three different sounds made by the suffix -ed in the following sentence?

The sheriff needed his gun. He jailed the wanted man and then he walked home.

A set of resources for with handouts and worksheets for voiced and unvoiced consonants is available at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Expect Exceptions!

When letters can make more than one sound, or sometimes be silent, and a sound can be made with different spellings, we know that English is Weird. The rules are more like guidelines that give us a clue. You can almost always expect exceptions.

Below is a round-up of some of the guidelines with some exceptions that I’ve come across. Can you think of some to add?

SHORT VOWEL Variations
Flossy words – the letters f, l, & s often double after a one syllable word with short vowel. Except: When final s makes sound of /z/: is, his, as, has, was. And except: gas, yes, if, this, us, bus. Also other letters double in the words: odd, add, egg, mitt.
a can say short o – watch the dog play squash with the ball.
after w – Except: wag, was. And except: Bossy R variations (ar = /or/ in war, warm, warn, wart, swarm. Also Silent e & vowel teams are more powerful: wave, wade, waist, way.
after qu – Except: quack, aqua, square, quart. Silent e & vowel teams are more powerful: quake, equate, quail.
o can say ŭ (Schwa) – my son won a ton of money a month from the lottery. Except: on, fond, pond.
Closed syllables often have a short vowel, Except: in some words when i or o are followed by two consonants. And Except: Flossy words: roll, words that end with ck: rock, and digraphs: fish.
Also, u can = /oo/ sometimes: sugar, put, push, bush, cushion, & pull, full, bull. U =/ĭ/: busy.

Silent e – Silent e at the end makes the vowel say it’s name. Except: have, give, been, gone, lose, whose, move, shoe. See also: o = /ŭ/ (Schwa sound) in some love gloves + more, and also i before e is weird: sometimes ie steals long e like a thief.

Bossy R Variations
Silent e vs. Bossy R – Silent e wins with -are and -ire. With a wīre in your tīre, ride on the spāre to the car cāre store for sure.
Schwa Bossy R
/ER/ can be spelled different ways: The pearl is worth a dollar
AR can say /ER/: dollar, collar
AR can say /OR/: warm, warn, wart
OR can say /ER/: motor, worth, worm, work
EAR: You will learn (er) not to fear (long e/r) the bear (“air”) with a big heart (ar)
/AIR/: It may be a very bad error to shoot an arrow at the pair of bears.
IR can say a long e: spirit, mirror.

Diphthongs – Two vowels work together to make a sound that’s new. Except: journey, laugh, touch. See also: Oh, Those OUGH Words!
OU: I thought (short o) our (ow-r) chicken soup (long u) for the young (short u) soul (long o) could (oo) be about (ow) cool enough (short u) to pour (long o-r).
OUgh: Although (long o) I ate when I was through (ew) ploughing (ow) the garden, the meat I bought (short o) was so tough (short u) it made me cough (short o).
OUld: Oh you should see the mould – could, would, should =/oo/ Except: mould, shoulder, boulder, smoulder.

Vowel Teams – Two vowels work as a team and the first one likes to speak. Except: said, pleasant, learn, pear, build, sew.
EA can also be short e: bread, head, breath, thread, and also long a: great, steak, break.
OW can also be a diphthong: down, town + more.
See also I before e is weird

Vowels that vary – Tricky Y
In one syllable words, y often = /ī/ like in fly. Except: key
In two syllable words, y often = /ē/ like in candy. Except: supply, reply, rely, deny, apply, July.

Digraphs – Two consonants work together to make a sound that’s new.
/ch/ is often spelled tch after a short vowel in a one syllable word. Except: such, much, rich, which.
CH can say /SH/: the chef with a mustache poured champagne down the chute of the machine. Also, ch = /k/: ache
Consonant Variations
Hard or Soft G – G is often hard before A, O & U. With the others, a soft G will often do. Except: gift, gill, give. g before e will often soft /j/ be. Except: get, gecko, geese.
/k/ at the beginning – K takes i & e, c the other three. Except: kale, skate, koala, skull.
/k/ at the end – the k sound is often spelled ck immediately after a short vowel in one syllable words. The duck said “quack” on the deck near the slick dock. Except: multi-syllable words like zodiac, maniac.
Two sounds of s – The letter S the sound of /s/ makes when you see snakes. Hear the sound of /z/ when your nose smells a rose. Except, s = /sh/: sure, sugar, tissue issue, mission.

Consonant-le – /ul/ -when the letter is long or tall (bdfghjklpty), it is often -le. Except: petal, bridal, global, jackal, sandal, hotel, legal. Also, c & z are often -le: circle, vehicle, uncle, article, cycle, cubicle, puzzle, drizzle.

Schwa: o can say “uh” before n, v, th – I love the other monkey. Except: on, frond, pond, drove (+more where silent e wins), broth, moth, bother.

The English language can be a nasty beast, but it is one that can be beat! Tame it with all of the resources here at Phonics Pow.

English is Weird

English is weird, oh yes, it is! There are vowels that can be spelled in lots of different ways, silent letters, consonants that can have different sounds, and lots of exceptions.

The English language can be a nasty beast, but it is one that can be beat.

It can be tamed with the super tools here at Phonics Pow!

One of the reasons that English is challenging to learn to read is that 26 letters make 44 sounds, called phonemes! Single letters or letter combinations create 72 different phonograms, written symbols that represent sounds. It is no wonder that reading can be difficult, when it looks like this to students:

O = ŏ in DOG and SOCK, but o = ō in NO and GOLD

And like this:

ea = “ē” in BEAN, ea = “ĕ” BREAD, ea = “ā” STEAK, ea+r = “air” BEAR

Those are just two examples of how English can be weird. Phonics terms that are important for teaching reading can be a little intimidating for those who want to help. But fear not, they will make sense as definitions are included when they are introduced!

At Phonics Pow, we use the ABC method to make sense of English. We Add fun with games, Build skills with memorable rhymes, and use Color coding in a sensible sequence to arm tutors with the weapons they need to tame this beast.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.


Smooth Beach

After learning about Consonant Digraphs with short vowels at the end of the SOUND OUT WORDS section (II.c), and about Diphthongs (III.c) and Vowel Teams (III.d), it is time to learn about words that combine these patterns! Words like…


Download a free set of activities that includes a worksheet, a word search, and a word sort. The words can be sorted two ways: by digraphs or by diphthongs/vowel teams. The SMOOTH BEACH freebie is available to download at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers. Also available is a free wordlist and set of bookmarks with consonant digraphs and vowel patterns.

Play the Smooth Beach wordsearch online.

Learn more about Word Sorts and get the free set of word sort games for the Phonics Pow Toolkit.