After your student has mastered reading and spelling closed and open syllables, he is ready for Vowel-Consonant-E syllables, also known as the VCE syllable.
VCE syllables follow this pattern:
A vowel (V) followed a consonant (C) followed by a silent e (E).
When explaining VCE syllables to students, the silent e is often referred to as “magic e.” When “magic e” is present, it makes the vowel preceding the consonant long. The e becomes a helper that makes the first vowel stronger and able to say its name.
It helps to illustrate vowel-consonant-e syllables by using letter tiles. Build a one-syllable word such as made with the tiles. With your finger, draw an arch from the e to the a. Tell your student that the silent e jumps over the d to make the a long.
Even though the e is silent and doesn’t have its own sound in this word, it still has an important job.
Now remove the letter e tile from the word. Ask your student to read the resulting word aloud. He will see that, without the silent e, the word says mad. You can repeat this exercise with word pairs such as can/cane, at/ate, kit/kite. The student can then see that when silent e is added, the meaning and sound of the word changes.
More examples of one-syllable words that use the VCE pattern include bite, fine, game, hide, hole, line, made, nine, rate, safe, vote and wife.
When your students seem comfortable with the one syllable words, this syllable type can be combined with open and closed syllables to form multisyllable words. Examples include combine, debate, escape, helpful, include, reptile, resale, retire, timeless, and upgrade.
VCE syllables are a bit more advanced than closed and open syllables, so be patient and don't worry if it takes your younger students a little more time to understand them. The best way to go about it is to make sure that they have a lot of examples to work with, give them hands-on practice, and demonstrate several words with this pattern each day until the child catches on. Below is a link to a fun game which teaches the vowel-consonant-e syllable type. It concentrates on both reading and spelling this common syllable pattern and will give your student much practice in an enjoyable way.
Next in this series…the vowel team syllable type.