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Spelling /K/: Have you observed your student struggling to spell the /k/ sound? If so, this might look familiar:

Spelling /K/: 

Tricks to Sort out the /K/-Conundrum

Have you observed your student struggling to spell the /k/ sound? If so, this might look familiar:

Of course, we want our students to use efficient and logical strategies while spelling, so we teach them spelling rules. I’m about to show you two handy rules that will clear up the /k/-Conundrum once and for all!

Before You Begin Teaching...

To begin, make sure your student has already mastered the following skills:

    • All short vowel names and sounds
    • All consonant names and sounds
    • The difference between a consonant and a vowel
    • Able to identify “before” and “after” while sequencing sounds in reading order

Once you’re sure that the prerequisite skills are met, you can begin to teach the spelling rule.

Spelling /K/ Explained with Two Simple Rules...

Begin by explaining that what you’re about to teach works when spelling /K/ at the beginning of a word. Spelling /K/ at the end is a bit different. I like to introduce this rule by first reminding my students to think about spelling in these simple terms:

“Say the sound you want to spell. Then, think about all of the ways you can spell that

Yes, it’s that easy!
Next, explain the digraph “CK” cannot be used to begin a word. This is the point where most students breathe a sigh of relief. Now there are only two choices!

Okay, But What about the Rules?’ve come here for the rules! That’s right. Because this concept relates to multiple scenarios we’ve split them into two categories named by the following two rules:

Cubs Can Drink Cola

The most common way to spell /K/ is with the letter “C,” so we should always consider spelling with the letter “C” first.

However, sometimes, the letter “C” can be tricky. When it comes right BEFORE a Sssssneaky Vowel, it will make the /S/ sound (like in the word “cent”). Sssssneaky vowels include e, i, and y.

“Spell /K/ with a C if there’s an a, o, u, or consonant after it.”

Kind Ken Was Stinky

And what to do if there is a Sssssneaky Vowel? Easy! Just choose the other option, “K.”

“Spell /K/ with a K if there’s an e, i, or y after it.”

How cute are Ken and those Cubs?! As much as I’d like to say they were created just to melt our hearts, they serve an important role in rule memorization. In fact, when students can connect a new concept to a story, visual, and mnemonic device, they are much more likely to apply and remember this new knowledge!

Important Tips To Consider...

  • Do not expect your student to spell words where “C” makes the /S/ sound, but rather, use this concept to teach the “why” behind using the “K.” However, reading words that use this pattern may be helpful to reinforce the concept.
  • Often, the most difficult part of this rule is remembering which vowels are the Sssssneaky Vowels. Not to worry! You’ll find a great activity below to reinforce this idea. You’ll find even more activities and word lists embedded into the Silver Moon Instructor Manual to practice those moments when “C” says /S/.
  • Do not expect your students to write out the name of the rule and spell it correctly. Rather, provide the student with a resource that already has the rule written down for them. I highly suggest the Silver Moon Spelling Rules cards complete with illustrations of Sam and his fried zucchini. Both student and instructor sets of cards can be found at this handy link
  • Practice using both real words and nonsense words. You may find that students have learned to memorize a lot of words. This is especially common when working with older students. Therefore, it’s difficult to know for sure if your student has learned the spelling rule to the point of generalization (see this helpful blog to find out more about generalization). Using a mix of real words and nonsense words helps you better understand what your student knows and eliminates the memorization variable.
  • Recite this rule out loud with your student, gradually fading any

Remember: We teach spelling rules to students so that they don’t have to use inefficient strategies like guessing. However, don’t become discouraged if your student still reverts to guessing strategies. This compensatory skill is most likely still a knee-jerk reaction to spelling unfamiliar words! When this happens, keep bringing your student back to the rules they’ve learned.

Free Reproducibles!
Practice these skills with our FREE resources.

Download to Print: Spelling _k_ Worksheets and Answer Keys Combined (1)

If you’ve found this article useful for solving your /K/-Conundrums, please share this post! Don’t forget to check back for more spelling and reading discussion, tips, and resources.

Check out the rest of our spelling rules at

Happy Teaching!

Written by:
Kate Wagner, BSE
Reading Interventionist, Remote Learning Coach


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