How to Effectively Teach Bossy R Words (R-Controlled Vowels) to Dyslexic Students

Teaching the Bossy R words can be tricky but fun for you and your student.

This video will teach some of the Orton Gillingham strategies to teach the Bossy R words to students with dyslexia and those who just need to learn structured literacy. (2 fun video links below)

I want to share with you the joy of teaching the r -controlled sounds –  when vowels are followed by an r we call that the bossy r.  It actually changes the sound of the vowel; they’re neither long nor short and there’s a way we want to teach R-controlled vowels starting with the most popular which would be  “ar” followed by “or” and then we have “e-r-i-r-u-r “.

We also have suffixes of ar and or which I like to teach on day two of teaching (each one separately) .

We always want to start with our phonogram card and the key concept card.  Ar  –  smart r says /ar/.

Or “or” stork says /or/.

After phonogram cards and key concept cards, we move to the sound circles, then we move to using our letters.  You may use colorful plastic letters or small phonogram cards.

Then I like to have the students do some reading that I have on my computer of words and also sentences with those words.

I like to have a lot of fun with my students.

When we’re using the sound circles, we build words  – so imagine the fun that we have teaching “corn becomes torn –  torn becomes born –  born becomes horn.  Torch becomes porch.”

We will also teach that those words with the same endings are rhymes.

Students know the ending sounds and they never would imagine that they could spell porch and torch!

Learning are controlled vowels are really important.

(Click here to see what materials you can use to teach bossy r).

What I do next also is give the kids a spelling test with just some words and then I will put two words together.  I would say “short story” and the student will write “short story”. I say the word “score” that has a silent e and that’s something the students have already learned.  We have that “sneaky e” at the end of the word “s-t-o-r-e” and I’ll say let’s remove the “e and say story with a y.”

Sometimes a student will even know it’s the “y” at the end of the word that sounds like /e/ so you can have fun seeing they have learned a very important spelling rule.

You can say “store becomes score” which also has that silent e at the end.  We call that the sneaky e.

Say “horse.  How do you spell horse?” They are amazed that now they can spell horse. They would never imagine that they would know how to spell it.

So here are just a few little tips about teaching the R- controlled vowels “ar and or”.  Soon we’re going to be teaching “er, ir, and ur”, and there’s more

I’ll let you know more about that later. Have a great day!  Here are two fun videos I like to share when I tutor:

video 1 here  and then video 2 here

If you need an assessment for dyslexia, read here.

If you need an advocate for your child, click here. 

Marianne Cintron founder of Step-By-Step Dyslexia Solutions. We’re a non-profit organization and we train teachers to work with dyslexic children. I also tutor a few students. If this has helped you, please consider donating to help me continue with my work to get the Word Out about how to help Dyslexic Children develop literacy skills. Click Here,