Kids start working on r-controlled vowels in late first grade or early 2nd grade. R-controlled vowels include:
ar as in shark
er as in clerk
ir as in swirl
ur as in burn
or as in born
Introduce these sounds one at a time. Add the sound units to your student’s flashcard pile and have her review them daily.
In r-controlled words, the r “controls” the sound of the vowel. It dominates the vowel and changes the sound. Thus, these units need to be memorized. With /ar/, for example, the vowel no longer says a_ as in apple. Likewise, the r changes the sound of the e in /er/, i in /ir/, u in /ur/ and o in /or/. This is why some people call r-controlled sounds “bossy r.”
Reading Elephant has updated and improved our r-controlled vowel stories.
Reading Elephant has a new and improved set of r-controlled stories in our shop. Our r-controlled stories are leveled to help beginning readers gradually learn one sound at a time. We’ve added more pictures to some of the stories so kids can delight in the magical, sometimes goofy illustrations. We’ve also tweaked the stories to help some kids who need a gentler, more gradual approach.
R -controlled words
Here are some sample ar words: dark, shark, lark, bark, tar, park, bar, mart, far, jar, car, star, harm, mark, scar, art, barn, spar, farm, tart, yard, smart, chart, charm, dart, cart, char, start, card, part, guard
clerk, fern, term, serve, swerve, germ, perm, nerd, herd, Bert, perch, verb, mercy, bigger, smaller, faster, happier, funnier, better, butter, sweeter
bird, third, stir, sir, shirk, smirk, girth, first, swirl, flirt, whirl, birth, girl, dirt, shirt, thirsty, skirt, thirty, mirth
purse, turn, hurt, churn, burl, hurl, blur, blurry, hurry, curse, blurt, burn, surf, curl
porch cork, torch, fork, horn, dork, sword, corn, born, norm, thorn, sworn, chord, torn, bore, worn, morn, sort, snort, short, port, fort, Mort
Help kids spell r-controlled words.
Kids can have a tough time spelling r-controlled words and words with the letter r.
They may have trouble deciphering when to just use the letter /r/ and when to use an r-controlled sound. Thus, make sure kids practice spelling lists of words with a variety of letter r and r-controlled words–that way they can learn to spell r-controlled words correctly. For example, here is a good list at this level:
In the above list, the student has to practice the difference between the r blend as in “cr” and “br” and the r-controlled sounds ar, or.
To help kids spell r-controlled words, emphasize that there must be a vowel in every word. If they write, “shrk” for “shark,” ask them “Where’s the vowel?” The student will identify that he’s missing a vowel. Say, “If you hear an r-sound and you’re word is missing a vowel, that means you have to pick an r-controlled sound.”
Bring your student to his phonics chart. Locate the r-controlled sounds. Have him pick the correct r-sound for “shark.”
With practice, your student will begin to spell these challenging words correctly.
When spelling “brand,” your student may be tempted to pick an r-controlled sound and write “berand.” In this case, have the student identify the 2 vowels he wrote. Say, “This is a single-syllable word, it has one beat, therefore, it only needs one vowel. That means we do not need an r-controlled sound.”
R-controlled words can be tricky in spelling activities. However, this is normal. With practice, your student will spell these words right.
I am so excited about the Reading Elephant r-controlled printable stories.
Check them out in our shop.