R controlled vowels

What are they?

R controlled vowels form a smaller chunk of teaching and learning vowels. The teacher can introduce them as the ‘bossy r’ because the ‘r’ acts as the boss. This leads the vowel to make a new sound.


Let us understand this with an example. In words like ‘bar or ‘car’, where ‘a’ is followed by ‘r’, the sound of ‘a’ changes. When ‘o’ is followed by ‘r’ it makes a sound that can be heard in the word ‘corn’. This means that, when a vowel is followed by the letter ‘r’, the vowel is forced to change its sound. That’s why we called it ‘bossy r’.

How do we start about?

-R-controlled vowels are simpler to understand when learned with examples. The teacher can help the learners make a small activity. This needs unused ice-cream sticks and images of objects that form examples for r-controlled vowels. Paste an image on one end of the stick and write the possible r-controlled vowels on the remaining stick. For example, ‘shark’ will have ‘ar’, ‘er’, ‘ir’, ‘or’, ur’ etc. now distribute these sticks in the class and ask the learners to identify the object on the image and say the word out loud. Now they have to choose the right option i.e. ‘ar’ for ‘shark’ from the given options. Keep repeating this activity with multiple examples.

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Image Courtesy: http://blog.maketaketeach.com/r-controlled-vowels/



-The worksheet given below is an easy way to let the learners practice the r-controlled vowels. They have to recognize the word and fill in the blank spaces with the appropriate r-controlled vowels. The teacher can make multiple such worksheets and let the learners practice.

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Image Courtesy: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Clip-the-R-Controlled-Vowel-375346

A bingo card game that can be downloaded for free and played in the classroom or at home. A sample has been provided as follows.

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Image Courtesy: http://www.bingocardprinter.com/bingo-cards/phonics-r-controlled-vowels-words-bingo-cards.php

Online games

This is an online game by education.com. It asks the player to complete the incomplete words by using pairs of sounds like ‘ir’, ‘er’, ‘or’, ‘ur’ . It is an interactive spelling game which can be useful for practice.

A word sorting game by Starfall.com for the practice of recognition and sorting of r-controlled vowel sounds.


A r-controlled song for the young learners which can be beneficial.

A video with the tune ‘Old MacDonalds had a Farm’ which can be played in the classroom. The learners will enjoy the tune of it and also learn the concept. The video is by Pre School Prep Company.

An explanatory video by My Growing Brain that explains the individual sounds in examples.

A video by Nessy for the examples for r-controlled sounds.

A musical video in the tune of ‘When You’re Happy and You Know’ for the r-controlled vowels by Hannah Baurn.

A video demonstration by young learners by Learn Through Lyrics.







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