Decoding Tips

  • Helping Your Child Decode Unknown Words At Home

    When children have a variety of decoding strategies to pull from, they gain more confidence in their reading. Here are some decoding strategies and helpful rules to suggest to your child when they are struggling to read a word(s). Thank you for your continued support at home!


    When decoding a word, always consider: Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?


    Decoding Strategy

    Definition or Example

    Sound It Out

    Sound out each letter, blend (i.e. bl, cr), and/or digraph (i.e. ch, th, wh, sh) and then blend the sounds together

    Tap It Out

    Example: tap out cat: Say the sound of c (tap pointer to thumb), a (tap middle to thumb), t (tap ring finger to thumb), then blend the sounds to read and say cat (slide thumb under all three fingers)

    Read On

    If you come across a word you don't know, skip it and continue reading the sentence. Sometimes the information that follows can help you identify the unfamiliar word(s). Then go back and reread.


    If you come across a word you don't know and the word you read in its place does not sound right, go back and read the sentence again.  You may notice clues you missed the first time.

    Use the Beginning and Ending Sounds

    What would make sense and have that beginning or ending sound?

    Picture Clues

    Look at the pictures for clues to see if the words match.

    Chunk the Word

    Look for little words or chunks (i.e. ank, ing). Think about what would make sense and has these parts.

    Flip the Sounds

    All vowels and some consonants (i.e. c, g, th, ch) have more than one sound. If one sound is not working, try the other sound.



    Additional Strategies

    Here are more strategies used in some of our primary classes...

    Lips the Fish

    Get your mouth ready. Make the beginning sound of the word.

    Stretchy Snake

    Stretch out the sounds in the word and blend them together.

    Chunky Monkey

    Look for small "chunks" you know inside of bigger words.

    Flip Flop Froggy

    "Flip Flop" the vowel sound. If you tried the word using a short vowel sound, try the word using a long vowel instead. Reread the word. Does it make sense?

    Eagle Eye

    Look at the picture carefully. Use the pictures to decode the tricky words.

    Skippy Scott

    Skip over the tricky word. Read the rest of the sentence and try it again.

    Elephant Ears

    Listen carefully as you read the sounds in the word. Does the sound match the letter? Does the word make sense?




    Helpful Rule


    CVC Words

    CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant): The vowel in the middle will always make the short vowel sound. (i.e. bat, sip, cup, set, top)

    Silent e

    CVCe words (consonant, vowel, consonant, silent e): The e reaches over and pinches the vowel in the middle and makes it yell its name; making the long vowel sound. The e is silent. (i.e. sale, ride)

    Double Vowels

    When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says its name. (i.e. week, paint)

    *This does not always work, but is a good place to start*