As children move through kindergarten, they start developing a more complete and sophisticated understanding of how language works, an important foundation for the learning they will do in the primary grades.
Beginning in the preschool years, children are learning to recognize the letters of the alphabet. The next step will be to identify the various sounds that these letters can represent (phonics). Literacy research suggests that children usually have a much easier time learning the consonant sounds than the vowel sounds. The letter "c" can be tricky, however, since it represents two sounds—the hard "c" or /k/ sound as well as the soft "c" or /s/ sound.
Typically we teach the hard "c" sound first, because the most familiar and easy-to-pronounce words, like "cat" and "cow," begin with the hard "c" sound, while words like "celery," "cell," and "certificate" represent more advanced vocabulary and are more challenging words for beginning readers. Most words that begin with "c" have a /k/ sound. When children are ready to understand some of the ambiguities of phonics, we introduce the soft "c" or /s/ sound. One way to help older children see the consistency in our spelling system is to point out the fact that when "c" is followed by "e" or "i"—as in "celery" or "circus"—it generally makes a /s/ sound.
Similar to an alphabet book, the letter "c" is highlighted in this video segment. Each word is displayed, and images are added to illustrate the meaning of each word. In addition, the soft "c" sound is pronounced as the children say each word. Familiar words were chosen so that children will recognize the pictures and spelling of these words. One challenging word, "certificate," might be a vocabulary stretch, but the illustration should help children figure out its meaning.