Soldier Rule

Introducing The Soldier Rule

When k, ge and ch come at the end of a one syllable word that is preceded by a short vowel, a silent letter in inserted to protect the short vowel.  For example  chick, judge and hutch. This is a reading and a writing rule.

The simplest way to introduce these letters is to talk to students about mean letters or bully letters.  K can be a bully but g,e,c and h are fine on their own.  It is only when they get together ge and ch that there are problems.  Students will understand this concept if you talk about experiences where they get along fine with a fellow student when they are alone together, but when another students is there, there is sometimes trouble.

Short vowels are not “tough” and therefore need a soldier to protect them.  Soldiers on duty do not speak, so when reading these words, the soldier letter is silent. Teachers can use examples such as the soldiers guarding Buckingham Palace and soldier on duty at the War Memorial in Ottawa. Talk to students about why soldiers do not speak while on duty (so they are not distracted).

If the short vowel has a friend ( another letter between the short vowel and the mean letter) then the soldier letter is not needed.  This also applies to vowel teams.  For example crunch, verge and lunch.

Introducing the ck Soldier Rule

This soldier will be introduced first as it common in emergent reading texts.

When you hear /k/, spell it ck if

  • the /k/ follows a short vowel
  • the /k/ is at the end of a 1 syllable word (sick, snack, deck, lock, duck
  • c is the silent soldier that protects the short vowel sound from the k and does not speak

Prerequisite Skills:

  • Student can identify a syllable
  • Student can identify a short vowel


  • Phoneme-grapheme spelling sheets and large sheet for modeling (available at the Print Shop)
  • Letter tiles
  • Soldier tiles (?)
  • Large letter if having students model the words

Word Lists

Soldier ck words

Vowel a: back, stack, cackle, hackle, hack, jack, lack, knack, pack, rack, sack, tack, shack

Vowel e: check, deck, neck, fleck, peck, wreck,

vowel 1: stick, lick, nick, pick, flick, trick, kick, prick (prickle), quick, tick, wick

Vowel 0: block, rock, dock, shock, lock, mock, knock, sock, tock, stock, clock

Vowel u: luck, truck, stuck, yuck, muck, buck, bucket, duck, puck, suck, tuck,

Words that end in k but do not require soldier c

pink, stink, rink, link, plunk, blink, clink, sink, tinkle, wink,

trunk, plunk, clunk, bunk, dunk, flunk, funk, hunk, junk, punk, sunk, flank, tank, rank, dank, plank, stank

work, pork, cork, dork, fork, stork, park, mark, lark, bark, dark, hark, park, stark

bulk, caulk, hulk, milk, silk, walk, talk, stalk


Phonological Awareness Activities

Guided practice:

Model on the board using letter tiles the following:

Bullies: k

Sensitive letters: short vowels

Soldier: c

Use the little soldiers from OG booklet in place of the letters d, t, c


This activity could be done with students and large letters

Independent Practice

There are Bitsboard activities built for each of the three soldiers.  Search SD71 on Bitsboard and all three boards will pop up. Watch of updated photos of the Comox Valley.

Practice Texts

West Virginia Phonics


Mack the Cat

Mack is my big black cat. My son, Jack, likes my black cat.  Jack likes to pack rocks in his back pack for Mack to lick.  Mack likes to lick the rocks.  Mack sits on the back deck and licks the rocks.  Mack licked so many rocks he got sick.  Mack got sick from the rocks and it made Jack sad.

The Pet Duck

Mack got to pick a pet for his son Jack.  Mack picked a pet duck.  Buck, the duck, liked to peck Jack and Mack.  Jack did not like Buck to peck him.  Buck pecked so much that Mack locked him up in his truck.  Mack got rid of Buck and picked a new duck to be Jack’s pet.

The Tack

Nick was at the dock and saw a tack stuck in his sock.  Nick had to kick the tack out of his sock at the dock.  Nick had good luck, but his dog Rick did not.  The tack stuck Rick in the neck.  Rick ran around the dock to get the tack out of his neck.  Nick was able to pull the tack out of Rick’s neck.  It fell on the dock by his leg.  Nick kicked the tack off the dock and it fell in the pond.






Spell these words:  stick, sack, truck, block, rock, sock, duck, tack, black


Independent practice:

Word sort – Orton Gillingham

Decodable texts: SPIRE and West Virginia Phonics