Vowel Patterns

What are they?

We will be dealing with a slightly higher level of a topic on this blog, i.e. Variant vowels and Diphthongs. Variant vowels and diphthongs are very similar to one another.

Variant Vowels: There are several vowels corresponding to different spelling patterns for a specific sound. For example, long a spelled a, a_e, ai_, _ay.

Diphthongs: Diphthong, on the other hand, is a sound that is formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable. In a diphthong, the sound begins as one vowel and moves towards another. It is also called as a gliding vowel since it is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds.


Similar activities can be conducted in class to teach both variant vowels and diphthongs. We can see an example of a diphthong in the word mouse, in which the ‘ou’ part of the word obviously consists of two distinct vowels, but there is no syllabic break between the two. Several examples of the same can be seen as follows.

Image Courtesy: http://www.english-for-students.com/Diphthongs.html


Strategies to be used

Make a Chart
Make an exhaustive list of vowel patterns and variant vowels. Adding colorful images and highlighting the variant vowels in the chart makes it useful. You can paste this chart in the class and by pointing out at the boxes and make the learners say these variant vowels. Keep practicing repeatedly and explain why these are not regular vowel sounds. An example has been given as follows.

image6 (1)
Image Courtesy: http://theschoolhouse.us/charts/variant_vowels.html

oo in Moon : Phonics Tree:
This is a simple matching game where the fruits on the tree have to matched with the letters written on the trunk of the tree. The learners will learn variant vowels by matching the letter or letter combinations until they have made a word. A worksheet has been given as follows. You take a print out or design your own worksheet.

Image Courtesy: https://printables.scholastic.com/shop/prcontent/oo-Moon-Variant-Vowels-Phonics-Tree/9780545541350-027

Fill the Balloons:
Filling in the blank spaces in the balloons acts as an activity for diphthongs. The learners need to identify the words that use diphthongs in them. A worksheet has been mentioned as follows. You might as well design your own worksheet depending on the diphthong you would like to choose. Since we are following the Katelyn’s progression (insert link here- Phonic Progression) we will follow the same order.

Image Courtesy: http://teachersnotebook.com/product/honeypott74/word-family-pop-level-3-r-controlled-vowels-diphthongs-and-variant-vowels


Identify the Variant Vowels
You can give a list of words containing variant vowels to the learners. They have to pronounce these words out loud and identify the ones with the variant vowels. One such list has been mentioned as follows.

Image Courtesy: https://in.pinterest.com/pin/410390584765863699/

Highlight the Variant Vowels
You can print the following worksheet for the learners and let them go through it. They have to highlight the words having variant vowels. Use colorful markers and sketches for doing this:

Image Courtesy: https://printables.scholastic.com/shop/prcontent/Shoot-for-the-Hoop-Differentiating-Spelling-Patterns-for-Variant-Vowels-Phonics-Shoe-Box-Learning-Center/9780545468695-017

Online games

1. A game for diphthongs which is called Phonics Games by soft schools.com. The rules of the game are pretty simple. The learners have to fill in the blank spaces by recognizing the mentioned image. Make sure the learners are uttering the sound as they fill in the spaces. The words of the examples should be said out loud.

2. This is a fun game to match the words with the correct diphthong sound. It is called On Target and is produced by ESL Phonics World. Also, the sounds are uttered in the game, this helps in practice.

3. A game for diphthongs, specifically ‘ow’ and ‘ou’ which is called Phonics Games by soft schools.com. The rules of the game are pretty simple. The learners have to fill in the blank spaces by recognizing the mentioned image. Make sure the learners are uttering the sound as they fill in the spaces. Emphasize on correct utterances of the sounds.


This video is specifically for the teachers and the parents who want to learn the diphthongs utterances in order to teach the young learners. It is called IPA Diphthongs and is by ezbreezy.

Another video called Diphthong Sounds by English Language Club hich teaches diphthongs utterances for the parents and teachers.

This video is called Digraph & Diphthong Song & Tutorial for KIDS Learn ENGLISH by Sunday Heppner. It is directed towards young learners. Although it is a comparative video between digraphs and diphthongs, it still is a practice for the learners.

A video by Learntoread2000 for diphthongs oi and oy. This video has several illustrated examples that help the learner understand better. Making use of a story format, the narrator has done a great job.






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