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The Gentle Giraffe

Let’s start with a scenario. I am working with a student on the basic letter sound correspondences, and I get to the letter G. I don’t know about you, but this is one letter sound correspondence that makes me hold my breath. Why? Let’s reenact a  conversation that I’ve had many times while showing students the letter G:  

“What is the most common sound for this letter?” 


“Hmm…that’s one sound it can make, but that’s not the most common sound.” 

“Really? But what about the in words, ‘giraffe,’ or ‘gem’? I hear G make that  sound all the time!”  

silver moon spelling rules

Now, I’m sure we all recognize that this student isn’t entirely wrong. In fact, they have some good foundational skills for the rule that I’m about to show you. However, with this  student, I’ll hold back on teaching the less common sound for G. You see, students  working on the most common phoneme-letter correspondences aren’t quite ready for  alternative letter sounds, and of course, the alternative letter sound for G is /j/, while the  most common sound for G remains the /g/ sound as in the word “goat.” 

It may sound like I’m backtracking on our primary focus for today, but if we look at the big picture, it’s important to recognize that reading and spelling concepts should get introduced at just the right time in a student’s learning. When introduced too early (or too late), it can lead to confusion and slow student progress.  

Prior to studying systematic spelling and reading strategies, the scope and sequence of teaching these concepts (the order in which we teach them) was a bit lost on me.  Thankfully, we’ve made it easy to see where you were and where you’re headed as a teacher with our easy-to-follow Silver Moon teaching guides. You can find all three sets on our website here. To extend my little soapbox on scope and sequence, I have a  quick checklist for you to consider prior to teaching the spelling and reading rules about  G’s alternate sound. 

Before You Begin

Make sure your student can... 

  • Easily identify short vs. long vowel sounds.
  • Knows the difference between a consonant and a vowel 
  • Knows the names and most common sounds for all vowels and consonants
  • Is able to identify “before” and “after” while sequencing sounds in reading order
  • Understands that the most common sound for G is /g/ as in “goat” 
  • Has learned the concept that C will make its alternate sound (/s/) when followed by a sssneaky vowel (e, i, or y). If you need help with this, we have two great rules that discuss this topic. Check out this blog about those rules!

The Gentle Giraffe Loves Gym

silver moon spelling rules

Now, on to the rules you’ve been waiting for! Meet our first friend, the gentle giraffe. As you can see, the gentle giraffe is all about getting in his daily workout at the gym! While he finishes his workout, let’s explore what his rule is about. This reading rule reminds us that G can make a secondary sound when it is directly followed by an e, i, or y. G’s secondary sound is called it's soft sound, and it sounds just like the letter J. It says /j/.  Notice that the name of this rule helps us to see an example of each ssseaky vowel changing the sound of the letter G. Check it out! 

Gentle Giraffe Loves Gym

Here’s the complete rule: 

silver moon spelling rules

Check out the Gentle Giraffe reproducible HERE.

As always, if you found this blog helpful, please share it with your fellow teachers,  parents, and interventionists. Interested in learning more? You can find more spelling topics HERE, and don’t forget to check out our complete set of teaching resources at

Happy Teaching!  

Written by: 

Kate Wagner, BSE 

Reading Interventionist, Remote Learning Coach

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