Tricky Silent E
Silent E, also known as magic E or the bossy E, is an important concept in early phonics. When a silent E is added at the end of a word it changes the vowel sound to say the long vowel sound. For example, compare the words "cap" and "cape." The "a" in cape says the long vowel sound.
This is a tricky concept for a lot of students, and I find that some teachers tend to think their students can master this concept much earlier than expected. Personally, I think this skill should not be taught until first grade, most kindergarten students have not mastered enough early phonics skills to truly understand silent E.
Typically we teach silent E as the first long vowel pattern. That in itself shows how tricky it is, students go from only reading words with the short vowel sound, to now reading words with a completely new set of vowel sounds. Furthermore, silent E is challenging because the child must see the ending letter before reading the middle vowel sound, not an easy concept for a kindergartener. To make things even more confusing, silent E is inconsistent. There are a lot of exceptions to this rule. Plus to top it off, the U-E pattern is a mess! There are a few different ways to pronounce this pattern, think cube vs. rule.
Whenever you do decide to teach your students about silent E, I strongly suggest that you spend a lot of time on this concept. Students should have plenty of opportunities to practice this skill. I wrote a great blog post about different Silent E resources here. Plus there is an awesome set of cute & free silent E worksheets at that post too!
Students truly benefit from practicing silent E for several reasons. First, students are able to decode words with fluency after mastering this skill. Understanding the role of silent E helps students accurately decode and pronounce words. This enhances their ability to comprehend the text too. Spelling is directly impacted from mastering this skill too.
Overall, practicing Silent E strengthens students reading and spelling abilities. It is a tricky pattern that deserves a lot of your classroom time, and make sure students are truly ready for this challenging concept. There are so many great ways to practice this skill and your students deserve that time in order to reach mastery.
Check out this freebie for silent E words. It is a set of simple silent E word sorts. You can grab this freebie here at my store, or grab a download below!