When students understand phonics patterns, they are able to easily decode the words on the page in front of them. However, when students don’t have a basic understanding of phonics patterns, they tend to struggle with fluency and overall comprehension. Working on phonics patterns, including r-controlled vowels, can help students strengthen their reading fluency and become strong readers.
What are R-Controlled Vowels?
R-controlled vowels, also known as ‘bossy’ r, is the phonics pattern that consists of a vowel followed by the letter R. When these two letters come together, the letter R takes over and controls the sound of the vowel. Because of this, the two letters combine to form one sound where the vowel sound is silent.
This phonics pattern can be confusing for students, especially since some of these r-controlled patterns can have different sounds!
The -or r-controlled pattern can make the /or/ sound or the /er/ sound. Think of the words ‘story’ and ‘worm’.
The -er and -ir patterns can also have very similar sounds like in the words ‘bird’ and ‘herd’.
R-Controlled Vowels Passages & Fluency Sentences
Give your students support with r-controlled vowels with comprehension passages and fluency strips targeting specific r-controlled vowel patterns.
How to Teach R-Controlled Vowels
Not sure where to begin with teaching r-controlled vowels? Check out these r-controlled vowels activities below to get started!
Model R-Controlled Vowels
Students will need explicit modeling when working with phonics patterns. To model r-controlled vowels, hold up a vowel card and make its sound. Then, add the ‘r’ sound next to it. Model how the sound changes when the two letters are together. Allow students to practice making the vowel sound and the r-controlled sound with you. You can add a pipe cleaner above the two cards to show how the two sounds chunk together to make one sound.
Practice Sorting R-Controlled Vowel Words
Now that students have a basic understanding of the different sounds that r-controlled vowels make, it’s time to give them real words to practice with! This free r-controlled vowel picture sort gives students the opportunity to sort picture cards based on their patterns. Students will practice identifying what they see on each picture card and then affixing it to the corresponding r-controlled vowel strip using velcro.
If you are working with students in a guided group, this would be a great opportunity to bring out the mini whiteboards! Have students sound out the words to represent each card. Write the letters on the whiteboard and model how to ‘blend’ the vowel and r together to create one sound.
I also included a black-and-white version of the activity so that it can be used as an r-controlled vowel worksheet as well! Students can cut and paste the picture cards onto the correct mats.
FREE R-Controlled Vowels Sorting Activity
Review r-controlled vowel patterns with this free hands-on picture card sort! Can be used as a center activity or print the B&W version to use as a cut and paste phonics activity.
R-Controlled Vowels Anchor Chart
Whether you pre-make an r-controlled vowel anchor chart or make one alongside your class, having a list of common r-controlled vowel words is a great reference tool for students to use as you go throughout your unit.
R-Controlled Phonics Passages
Phonics passages give students exposure to words in context, help build fluency, and practice basic comprehension skills. These decodable r-controlled passages are designed to help struggling readers gain exposure and practice with these phonics patterns. As students read the silly passages, they’ll come across multiple words containing specific r-controlled patterns.
As students read the first time, they’ll highlight all of the patterns they see.
The second time around, they are reading for fluency.
The third reading is focused on fluency and comprehension.
Each passage focuses on a specific r-controlled pattern ar, er, ir, or, ur and contains matching comprehension questions.
Fluency strips are another easy way to give students practice with reading phonics-patterned words in the context of a sentence. Simply print these r-controlled vowel fluency strips and attach them to a binder ring. Use them during literacy centers or as an early finisher activity for students to gain extra fluency practice with the pattern.
The R-Controlled Passages resource includes 15 comprehension passages and 10 fluency strip pages.
R-Controlled Vowels Videos
Our students LOVE watching videos to help them build understanding. Check out these videos for introducing r-controlled vowels or reinforcing the skill.
Host a Pirate Day!
What better way to practice r-controlled vowels than by hosting a pirate day? Encourage students to dress up as pirates for the occasion. Consider grabbing pirate hats for your students to wear and adding a sticky note for one of the 5 R-controlled vowel sounds to their pirate hat! Encourage students to use r-controlled vowel words as they speak to their friends throughout the school day.
Need no-prep activities for reviewing 2nd grade phonics, grammar, and ELA standards? Take a look at what’s included in my 2nd Grade Review Worksheets.
I hope that these activities help your students master this important phonics pattern while helping them build fluency and reading skills at the same time. Have you taught r-controlled vowels before? What activities work best in your classroom? Comment below and share your ideas!