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Step 4: Magic e (& Two Sounds for C, G Detour)

Magic e at the end of a word makes the vowel before it say it's name
Magic e
c says /s/ before an e, i, or y
g says /j/ before an e, i, or y
Usually c says /s/ and g says /j/ in front of e, i or y

Teaching icon Teach Teaching icon 2


Magic e Definitions:
VCE stands for Vowel, Consonant, e, which are the last 3 letters in a the Magic e syllable. The e signals that the vowel that is two spaces before it says it’s name. The Magic e is always at the end of a word (bike, explode). The Magic e can be at the end of the first word in a compound word (spacewalk, baseball). There can be an ending after the Magic e like in bikes.
CCVCE signals there will be blends (two consonants, cc) at the beginning of the Magic e words.

Teaching Videos and Written Stories

Magic e syllable
Magical alternate story for the Magic e Syllable
2 sounds for long ū (same video as on Open and Closed Syllable page)

Written Stories

  • Written Story: Magic e as told in Teaching Video
  • Written Story: 2 Sounds for Long u Story as told in Teaching Video
  • Alternate Explanation For the 2 Sounds of Long u:
    • The name of the letter u is pronounced like the word “you”.  This word has two phonemes (sounds): the /y/ sound (as in yes), and then the /oo/ sound (as in moon).  In words like use and cute the letter u’s full name is heard.
    • When the u is saying its name, it often goes by a nickname (a shorter version of its name).  For its nickname the u drops the first phoneme (sound) /y/ and we only hear the second phoneme (sound) /oo/.  We only hear the /oo/ sound of the u’s name in words like tube and flute.

PowerPoints and Google Slides PowerPoints for teaching short vowel words CVC Google Slides Icon

For the formatting of PowerPoints to be correct, click FILE, then DOWNLOAD, and download in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Teach Along the Way with Magic e Teach along the way with short vowels


Teach and add the relevant sounds (ce, ci, cy, ca, etc. and ge, gi, gy, ga, etc.) from the Big Sounds Pack to daily practice.

ce, ci, cy say /s/ and ge, gi, gy say /j/ See Detour for ore on this.

The letter u has 2 long sounds. See video above.

Vowel Protectors protect vowels from Magic e: As we learned in Steps 1 and 2, -ck, -ffsszzll, -tch and -dge come after a short vowel to protect it from a Magic e. Letters are also doubled in words to act as vowel protectors like in the words peppermint and planned.

We do not end words in v, j, i or u: In English, we do not end words in v, j, i or u. Exceptions are words borrowed from other languages, (spaghetti) and abbreviations of words (taxi), and the pronouns you, hi and I. In a word that ends in a ve, the vowel before the v may or may not say its name since the e may be there so the v is not at the end. The i in give says its sound, the a in gave says it’s name, and the i in live is pronounced both ways!

Magic e Teaching Activity Activity working together

Act Out Open, Closed and Magic e Syllables Just like teaching the Open and Closed syllables, make letter cards and act out what the vowel would say in different situations, and now include the Magic e running up to a word.  Find directions here.

Two Sounds for C, G Detour Detour

Two Sounds for C, G Page

c says /k/ or /s/
The letter c says the /k/ sound.  However, when it is followed by an e, i, or y it says the /s/ sound.  (Examples: city, cycle and cent).  We can thank the French for this softening of the c sound.

g says /g/ or /j/
The letter g says the /g/ sound.  However, when it is followed by an e, i, or y it usually says the /j/ sound.  (Examples: giant, gym and gentle).  We can thank the French for this softening of the g sound.

Tips Tips

Note on Spelling: It is important to be writing the words that are being worked on each step of the way. Use the words in the lists and stories. Word chains are particularly effective as they also work on identifying individual sounds within words.

Map Sounds to Letters

Map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map Sounds To Letters examples

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words, for example:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /ŭ/. Point out that this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…

Key and Directions for Materials Key

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1K-1 Beginning
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-21-2 Growing
Pink Plus: intervention, challengeIntervention/Challenge

Bundle: Multiple types of materials (games, activities, stories…) bundled together.
Pack: Multiple pieces of the same type of material, for example a pack of books.

Directions for everything else:

More on the Directions Page

Sample Bundle

Sample Bundle contains samples of the stories, games, lists, flashcards, fluency pyramids, activities, spelling and more you will find in the practice section below.

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