Teaching beginning readers how to handle vowel pairs is an important step in learning to read and spell. While some primary teachers teach students that "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking," there are several exceptions to this rule, so be careful that teaching it to your students does not lead to confusion. The most common vowel digraphs are ae, ai, ao, au, ea, ei, ie, oa, ou, oo, and ue. While these vowel pairs do often result in creating the long vowel sound of the first vowel, it is not always true. These simple games will expose your students to the most common vowel digraphs and help them master the sounds that are made.
Create a simple matching game to give children practice and exposure to vowel pairs. Put pictures on one card and the written word on another. Turn all the cards face down, and have children flip the cards two at time to try to create matches, with a "match" being the picture matched up with the written word containing the vowel pair. Good words to use on the cards include "daisy," "snail," "goat," "toad," "moon," "sea," "meal" and "hear."
Have children go around the classroom and look for items and words in books that have two vowels paired together. Use the words to create a section on your word wall of words with vowel pairs. Read each of the words with the children, pointing to each letter as you say it and reinforcing the digraph that is created by the two vowels.
Go Fish for Vowel Pairs
Create 30 to 40 simple cards on index cards. Write a different word on each card. Make all the words include one of six vowel pairs, such as oa, ai, ea, oo, etc. Then have the students place the cards face down in a pile and gather seven cards to hold in their hands. They need to try to make groups of two or more cards containing the same vowel pair. So if a child is holding the card that says "maid," she would ask her opponent, "Do you have any ai words?" The child would give her another card with an ai word if he had one, and the student could create a pair. If the opponent did not have any ai words on the cards in his hand, he would say, "Go fish" and the student would draw a card from the pile and the opponent would have his turn to ask. Play ends when all the words have been set down in pairs. The winner is the child with the most pairs.
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