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How to Teach the Floss Rule + FREE Word List and Chart

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Learn all about the FLOSS rule and how to teach it to students, then download and print a FREE word list & FREE anchor chart to help your instruction stick!

Graphic displaying FLOSS rule anchor chart with title "How to Teach the Floss Rule + Floss Word List."

What Is the FLOSS Rule?

πŸ‘‰ The FLOSS rule is a spelling generalization that says when a one-syllable word with a short vowel ends in the letter F, L, S, or Z, the last letter is doubled.

Words like huff, bell, moss, and buzz are all examples of words following the FLOSS rule.

πŸ‘‰ Why is it called the FLOSS rule? The word FLOSS is a helpful mnemonic device that helps kids remember which letters are doubled (F, L, S). It also serves as an example of a FLOSS word since the ending SS is doubled.

Note: You may notice that the letter Z is not included in the word ‘floss.’ Some teachers teach this as a Floss+Z Rule (pronounced “flossy”), but only a handful of words include a double z at the end.

The floss rule is sometimes referred to as the 1-1-1 rule (one syllable, one short vowel, ends in one consonant sound.) If the consonant sound is s, l, f, or z, it is doubled.

(It’s important to note that this is different from the Doubling Rule for spelling words with vowel suffixes.)

How to Teach the FLOSS Rule

As teachers, making phonics instruction fun and engaging is so important. Well, the FLOSS rule makes it easy!

Step 1: Kick things off with the Floss Dance!

Start out by telling the students we’re going to learn a new spelling generalization, and then I immediately start doing the Floss Dance.

Most kids already know the dance and want to join in the fun for a few minutes!

πŸ’ƒπŸΌ Need to learn how to do the floss? Watch this Floss Dance tutorial! Students love when their teacher acts goofy and have fun. Plus, all the dancing makes spelling multisensory!

Photo of student's hands holding a marker using sound boxes to map the Floss word 'sniff.'
A student using Elkonin boxes to map FLOSS words.

Step 2: Explicitly teach the rule.

In our phonics notebooks, students title their page “FLOSS + Z,” then write the rule, and then write example words that follow this rule. Then, they draw a picture of the class doing the floss dance together.

We pull out our sound boxes and we map the word “FLOSS.” Double letters go in one Elkonin box, because they only make one sound. We practice this a bunch of times with various FLOSS words from the word list below.

Inside pages of Phonics Folder with word mapping worksheet and cut out letters.
Get our Phonics Folder for engaging, multisensory orthographic mapping practice!

Step 3: Practice!

After a bit, be sure to throw in some other words that do not end in F, L, S, or Z to see if they can actually apply the rule.

Throughout the week, we practice reading and spelling FLOSS words so the concept becomes firm. We play FLOSS Bingo, read decodable sentences and decodable books, do word chaining, and play other games like phonics read and roll.

πŸ“„ FLOSS Words

πŸ‘‰ Scroll to the bottom for a one-page printout of the most common examples of FLOSS words:

  • miss
  • mess
  • mass
  • hiss
  • boss
  • bass
  • puss
  • pass
  • kiss
  • fuss
  • chess
  • floss
  • off
  • jiff
  • buff
  • cuff
  • muff
  • puff
  • scoff
  • sniff
  • biff
  • huff
  • stuff
  • bluff
  • fluff
  • cliff
  • whiff
  • ill
  • Jill
  • bell
  • bill
  • fell
  • fill
  • quill
  • jazz
  • razz
  • buzz
  • fuzz
  • fizz

Note: There are other words that follow the FLOSS rule but are intentionally not included on this list.

πŸ‘‰ Words with -all (ball), -oll (roll), and -ull (pull) are not included because the vowel sounds change slightly. Choose the words you introduce to students carefully and be sure they only include pure short vowels.

For more words that cover ALL phonics skills (including nonsense words), visit our Ultimate Word Lists on TPT with over 3000 words organized by skill.

Photo of a printout of the FLOSS rule anchor chart on a gray background.

Expert Tips and Info

  • Most scope and sequences teach the FLOSS rule after consonant digraphs but before consonant blends. Students should have a strong command of short vowels and all consonant sounds. It is usually taught by mid-first grade.
  • Since this is a spelling generalization, be sure to provide your students lots of opportunities to spell these words. And after you’ve taught the rule, spiral back to it and include it with your review concepts. You will also want to discuss some exceptions to the rule like gas and bus.
  • Do some flexing between FLOSS words with short vowels and VCe words with long vowels. For example, pill vs. pile.
  • Explicitly teaching the FLOSS rule is part of your Orton-Gillingham instruction. To read about more important rules, visit our post on spelling rules.
Graphic displaying FLOSS rule anchor chart with title "How to Teach the Floss Rule + Floss Word List."

Download & Print

We’d love to hear about your experience using these FLOSS resources.
Please leave a comment below or tag us on Instagram @literacylearn!

DOWNLOAD TERMS:Β All of our resources and printables are designed forΒ personal use only in homes and classrooms. Each teacher must download his or her own copy. Please do not save to a shared drive, reproduce our resources on the web, or make photocopies for anyone besides your own students. To share with others, please use the social share links provided or distribute theΒ link to the blog postΒ so others can download their own copies. Your support in this allows us to keep making free resources for everyone! Please see our Creative Credits page for information about the licensed clipart we use. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our terms, please email us. Thank you!


Floss Rule Word List 0.00 KB 2181 downloads

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Floss Rule Anchor Chart 0.00 KB 2131 downloads

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  1. I just finished my OG practioners certification, so I am exploring and learning more. Your website by far, is a favourite that I return to anytime I want to know more!

    1. Jennifer,
      Congrats on such an awesome accomplishment! We are so happy you’re finding the information and resources from Literacy Learn helpful. We are so happy that you will keep coming back!
      Katie and Laura

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