Fun R Controlled Vowels Activities and Games

 Need some Fun R Controlled Vowels Activities and Games? Here are my favorites!

First, what are R controlled vowels?

R controlled vowels, often called Bossy R sounds, are OR, AR, ER, IR, and UR. 

These sounds are often introduced in first grade. OR and AR are usually taught first, with a week dedicated to each (an entire week of AR and an entire week of OR). Some people teach them together. If you have enough time in your schedule to dedicate a week to each, that's what I personally recommend! :)

After OR and AR, ER IR and UR are typically taught together in the same week since they make the same sound. 

ER IR UR Bossy R Sounds Activities and Games that are so fun for teaching R controlled vowels!

P.S. There are 3 letter Bossy R sounds as well (AIR ARE EAR making the "air" sound, for example), but from the conversations I have had with teachers all around the country and world, they are usually taught in 2nd grade or later on in the first grade year. :) So this post is going to focus only on the five 2 letter R Controlled Vowels sounds. 

How to Teach R Controlled Vowels: Start with AR Activities!

I recommend starting with AR! It's an easy sound. It's a fun sound (farm! bark! car!) to learn for a week. You can also start with OR, but if your curriculum gives you a choice, I say do AR first.

AR sound phonics activities that are so fun and engaging for kids to learn bossy R controlled vowels! Secret Words are my favorite center for first grade, 2nd, or kindergarten reading!

This is one of my favorite ways to recommend a new phonics sounds. Secret Words!!

P.S. I have shown these for many different phonics sounds and also sight words on this blog for years, but I haven't shown my R Controlled Vowels Activities and Games version of them so here they are! :) I have them for over 330 sight words and also soo many different phonics sounds so, if you love these, you can use them as a center game all year! I do have a Secret Words BUNDLE of them on TpT if you want them for the entire year! The bundle has over 1,000 5 star reviews on TpT and the Sight Words set that is included in that bundle has over 3,500 5 star reviews so I am pretty confident that you'll love them too if you try them! :)

AR R Controlled Vowel Game to learn R Controlled Vowels!

The way you use them is you cut them out like this to make each word into its own card. Then, kids look at each picture and figure out its beginning sound

They place a letter (you can use magnets, letters written on water bottle caps, they can write it with a dry erase marker if you laminate them) under the picture. They keep going until they've done it for all pictures. This reveals a Secret Word

Sooo fun and kids get to feel like little detectives while practicing so many skills in one. 

They're learning the new phonics sound since all the words will be with that sound for that set AND reviewing beginning sounds. They will be SO motivated to read the words with your new phonics sound because they're a mystery they're trying to solve! For first grade, I recommend printing 8-10 words for a center and have all 8-10 be your new phonics sound for the week. Such a fun way to discover and explore with your new phonics sound and read words with it in a fun way!

Another fun thing you can do is put the full pages (don't cut them out except to cut the word off on the left) into a sheet protector in a binder! Here's a picture of both ways:

Secret Words Bossy R Activities - Put them in a binder to make it a game kids can flip and build to grow their phonics skills!

Kids open the binder and each page will have 2 words on it (the way they print! :) woo!) for kids to build to figure out each Secret Word! 

Binder Secret Words AR Sound - check out these fun R Controlled Vowels Activities and Games!

It's a fun way to practice. They grab a binder with sets for that phonics sound and can do it independently, with a partner, or in a small group.

Secret Words Bossy R Sounds

After AR, I recommend working on the OR Sound!

From corn to fork, there are tons of OR words to practice!

OR Sound Phonics Activities for R Controlled Vowels Activities and Games

The wonderful thing about using the same type of center every week - Secret Words, for example! - is that the kids already know what to do. They only have to concentrate on what they're learning, not how to do the activity. I talk about the importance of this a lot, especially when discussing my yearlong centers or Phonics No Prep Packs. The activities are consistent, so kids only have to worry about learning the new sound! :)

I recommend upping the difficulty of words slightly with OR. For example, in the example above this, SC is an S blend and SH is a digraph at the beginning of those words. You can use the easier cards, but I recommend trying to stretch them if they're ready! 

Again, this activity is SO fun that they will be so motivated to figure out the words. They will be trying their best to blend the words and read those tricky R Controlled Vowels!

Last are the R Controlled Vowels Sounds ER, IR, and UR!

I recommend teaching these at the same time. Preferably spending an entire week on the 3 sounds. If you teach one sound a week, you'd teach all of these in the same week. They make the same sound - ER in fern, IR in bird, UR in surf.

Bossy R ER IR UR phonics sounds activities

The ER phonics sound can be a little bit more difficult since most of the words you will practice are 2 syllables, but they learn the pattern pretty quickly since it is part of so many words that they use constantly - including teacher! :)

For example, soccer is a pretty long word but I think they can do it! It's a "big" word but it's very easy to blend if they know the ER sound.

R Controlled Vowels Activities and Games

I love using really cute, engaging pictures for teaching phonics sounds. The brightness really does make it feel more like a game. The more you can make reading fun, the better! :) 

Anyway, that was a little peek inside the Bossy R version of my Secret Words centers! If you want them for the entire year (and also sight words!), I do recommend getting the Secret Words BUNDLE instead. 

You can see some of the cards from more phonics sounds for cards like these in my various "Literacy" posts for various phonics sounds - simply click on the sound you want to see on this sound and have fun doing a little scrolling through pictures of fun activities you can do for that sound! :)

Thank you so much for reading! I am so excited to bring you tips and fun ideas and I hope showing you this set of fun R controlled vowels activities and games using the Secret Word centers strategy helped with that! Please browse around - I have tons of phonics and math posts for early elementary! I love sharing tips and ideas - I hope you love using them if you use any of them!