We’ve all heard the phrase “Silence is golden.” Well if that’s true, then the most golden letter of them all has to be silent E!
We often see E at the end of the word, but we don’t pronounce it. That’s silent E. But silent E does more than sit around the ends of words like a bump on a log. It changes whatever vowel comes earlier in the word. The preceding vowel changes from a “short” vowel sound to a “long” vowel sound (meaning the vowel is pronounced as its own name). Here are examples of silent E changing short vowel sounds into the long sounds:
- Hop ⇨ hope
- Kit ⇨ kite
- Can ⇨ cane
- Cod ⇨ code
We grownups read these words without thinking about it. But for kids, this change can really trip them up. So, how to teach silent E? I often describe it to my students with a cute story, like this. “Vowels like to be the most important letter in the word. When silent E shows up, the first vowel wants to let E know that they’re the boss, so they shout their name.” We practice shouting the long vowel sounds together. (Kids love a good excuse to yell.) And then we practice with a few sample silent E words. I stick to words they know the meaning of, like rope, cake, and made.
After that, it’s just a question of practice. But before you pull out the worksheets and flashcards, consider snuggling up on the couch with your child and some good books instead. Below are some awesome picture books that help parents teach silent E and kids practice reading it. Snag some of these, or keep an eye out during story time for silent E words to point out in the books you already have. (Bonus: Print and make our easy Cake in a Cup Read with Me Recipe for more practice with silent E.)
Do you have any favorite books that are great for practicing silent E? Connect on social and let us know!