R Controlled Vowels Teaching Ideas

          Hey friends! It’s been a while since I’ve updated this post. Teaching the phonics pattern for r controlled vowels can be very tricky for students. We want them to learn how to decode r controlled vowels without getting them stuck in the process. So how do I do it?

Decoding R Controlled Vowels

I work with students on decoding and practicing nonsense words. As a teacher, it’s important to model for students how adding the r after a vowel changes the vowel sound. In order to show my students how to decode, I display these  words and we emphasize the difference. The words I use are:  at/ art bid/ bird hut/ hurt. I circle the r in each word and we read them together. Next, I want students to see and hear the difference in the sound.
r controlled vowels

I let my students play games so that they are engaged in the phonics process.

Here’s a list of popular r controlled vowel words that might help you while teaching them.

We use these literacy mats to help students practice decoding and vocabulary all at once. One of the reasons I love teaching this phonics pattern is it naturally lets students decode words they might not use every single day. You can find these literacy mats right here.

r controlled vowels literacy centers

Another trick to teaching this phonics pattern is to use poems, chants and songs. In my class, we love using Jack Hartmann Songs.  Do you have a favorite song or chant to use in the classroom? If so, use the contact me button to send me a message. I’d love to try it in my classroom!


If students are struggling with these sounds, go back to each sound and determine where the hold up is. Let students practice each individual sound for a bit before mixing them all back together.
Please let me know if you have any questions while teaching r controlled vowels. Phonics is one of the biggest road blocks for struggling readers, so it’s important to try to use a variety of instructional tools to help them.

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