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I'd love to share all the secrets to teaching Vowel Diphthongs so that your students become phonics MASTERS immediately, but…

I can't.

Because vowel diphthongs are tricky.

They're tricky for me, possibly you, and definitely our students.

I can provide some phonics teaching tips based on my experience working with reading intervention groups.

Let's start at the very beginning…

What are Vowel Diphthongs?

There are common long and short sounds we associated with vowels (a, e, i, o, u). Here's a quick refresher:

Vowel Sound Chart - a quick reference tool for the short and long vowel sounds. From Positively Learning Blog

Here's the definition of a Vowel Diphthongs: when you have one vowel sound created by two vowel sounds.

Sounds confusing? Here are some examples of words with vowel diphthongs:

Environmental Print and Anchor Words

I always like to start with “attaching” new information to something we already know (synthesis). For a class of young six-year olds, environmental print is a fantastic tool:

Environmental Print can be such an effective learning tool when introducing new phonics sound spellings, especially these tricky vowel diphthongs!

Can you spot the vowel diphthongs?

Another way to attach those phonics sound-spellings to common words is to use recognizable pictures (EXACTLY like you see in the vowel chart above). I think of these as “anchor words.” These are the types of words that you may see displayed on a word wall in a classroom. I always encouraged my students to use these resources around them if they need a quick clue or reference (kind of like how we use our phones, right?).

Examples and Non-Examples

Once the phonics skill is introduced, I like to present examples and non-examples to see if my students REALLY get it. Yes, that may be viewed as trying to be extra tricky, but it also really helps me learn more about my students' understanding.

There are two teaching activities I ALWAYS use in my phonics intervention groups, especially with tricky sound-spellings like vowel diphthongs. Learn more about introducing new vowel sounds and checking for understanding.
Here's a sort between the vowel and vowel diphthong – sorry Asher!

Of course, after the introduction and check for understanding, there are MANY opportunities for learning games and activities.

I will often use these hands-on resources in small reading intervention groups (working with 5-6 students) and then move the same activities to independent literacy centers for reinforcement:

AU and AW Phonics Intervention Kit

Here's a set of digital task cards that also tackle the tricky vowel diphthongs:

Hope that is helpful! Let me know which activity is your favorite for reinforcing phonics skills.

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    Hi there.

    I'm Jennifer!

    I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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