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How to Teach Silent Letters

Literacy, Phonics, Spelling & Word Work

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Do your students know how to read and write silent letter words? There’s no doubt that your students will master this fascinating fact of the English Language with these silent letter teaching tips and highlights!

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What is a silent letter?

A silent letter is a letter that appears in a written word but is not heard when the word is said. Both vowels and consonants can be silent letters. A silent letter can come at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. Some common 2nd-grade words with silent letters:

  • comb
  • scissors
  • badge
  • sign
  • ghost
  • knot
  • talk
  • listen
  • write

Why are there silent letters in words?

If you can’t hear the letter in the word, why is it even there? There is no easy answer to this question! Silent letters appear in words across the English Language. Since the English Language has been influenced by other languages throughout history, different spelling patterns have become part of our written language. For example, the silent h in words like chord, character, and technology comes from the Greek language.

Silent letters also help to distinguish homophones from each other, like know and no.

Introducing Silent Letters

A fun way to introduce silent letters to students is to share a read aloud. Silent Letters Loud and Clear is a silly read aloud that students are sure to enjoy. Have students listen and write down any words they see or hear that might have a silent letter. Compare lists at the end of the read aloud.

Make an anchor chart of spelling patterns and words with silent letters. Our phonics posters can help students recognize and identify silent letter patterns in words.

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Activities to Teach Silent Letters

We have so many great activities to help teach silent letter words! Keep reading to discover the best learning tools for your classroom.

1. Ghost Letters

Silent letters are sometimes called “ghost letters.” Use this “ghost spelling” activity to reinforce silent letter spelling patterns. Students will write their ghost letter words in white crayon, then color over their word with marker. The words will magically appear on the paper!

2. Silent Letter Decodable Phonics Passages

A short vowel decodable phonics passage featuring the silent letters – one page for each silent letter (b, c, d, g, h, k, l, t, w) Students will read the passage, write sound words and answer comprehension questions. Great for independent practice or small group.

3. Silent Letter Toothy

Of course we have a Toothy game to help teach silent letters! This fun, engaging game is a student favorite. Teachers love it because it is easy to prep, self-checking, and lots of fun! Students will fill in the correct silent letter in each spelling pattern. Keep going until Toothy’s mouth is a full smile!

4. Silent Letter Phonics Center

A 2nd grade hands-on phonics center where students sort words with silent first letters (spotty words) onto silent cheetahs then record.

5. Phonics Poems

Add some poetry to the classroom with this decodable poem featuring silent letter words.

6. Silent Letter Phonics Day by Day

Daily 2nd grade phonics worksheet with 5 days of spiral silent letters practice that can be used as a reading center or for small group instruction or homework.

Videos to Teach Silent Letters

Silent letters can be a frustrating concept for students to learn. But with exposure, practice, and hands-on learning activities, students will be able to master these challenging spelling patterns. What activities do you use to teach silent letters? We’d love to hear about it – tell us in the comments below!

How to Teach other 2nd Grade Phonics Concepts

Ready to teach another phonics skill? We’ve got a post for that!

Hard & Soft C/G

Multisensory Phonics Activities

Silent Letters – YOU ARE HERE

Short Vowels

Short Vowel Digraphs

Long Vowels

Vowel Teams

Teaching Vowel Teams

Diphthongs

Inflected Endings

Syllable Patterns/Multisyllabic Words

How to Introduce the 6 Syllable Types

Contractions

New & Fun Ways to Teach Contractions

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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