Build ou ow Words

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SWBAT read, write, and spell words with ou and ow.

Big Idea

Engage a class in a hands on lesson to develop phonics skills.


5 minutes

Common Core Connection and Introduction

The Reading Foundational Skill for Phonics and Word Recognition states that students should know and apply grade level phonics skills in decoding words. In addition, RF.1.3f state that the students must learn to read words with CVe and vowel teams. So, this lesson allows sorting words that have to ou/ow sound as in how and mouse and words that do not. In addition, the students are really segmenting the words as they break them apart and create the words using letters. The students identify the beginning, middle, and ending sounds in the words.

Lesson Overview

This lesson allows for the students to collaborate in heterogeneous groups: peanut butter jelly partner of two or three and work toward creating words with vowel teams.  First they participate in guided practice, then they work to make the words, and last they generate sentences with the words.  Sorting and creating are two activities that require higher order thinking skills.  These activities help my students get a deeper understanding of the concept.

In addition, I find using transitions to be very helpful, and you might enjoy my video showing how we move in the classroom.


I show my class the lesson image and ask them to tell their partner what word the man getting bit is probably saying. This is an activating strategy to get their minds thinking.  Then I tell the students that I would say ouch.  I explain that ouch has the /ou/ sound and so does /ow/.   I write ouch on the board.  Then I tell the learners that we will be studying words that have the /ou/ and /ow/ sound as in how and pouch.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

I made these file folders by first laminating the folder. Then I cut all the letters out and laminated them (guided practice: file folders). The template is in Patricia Cunningham's book Making Words. I use the circular velcro stickers to connect the letters.  The vowels are red because in first grade vowels are a big deal, and I want my students to really identify vowels. This helps them decode faster.

I say a word for example cow. The students say cow.  I say tell your peanut butter jelly partner the first sound you hear in cow.  If they say c I remind them c is a letter and the sound is /c/.  Then I place a c in my pocket c)hart under the word beginning. The students place the c at the bottom of their folder.  I ask the learners to tell their partner the ending sound in cow.  Then I ask on learner what two letter make the /ow/ sound in cow.  One volunteer tells me and I place ow on the end of my pocket chart (guided practice: pocket chart).  I ask them class to read the word cow.  We punch it out by saying c and punching once, then ow and punching once.  The punch represents the sound.  I write the word on my white board on the t-chart (guided practice:t- chart). 

Here is an example of how we do this with other words:guided practice: pocket chart. We continue this process with about 7-8 words.  I make sure we have two columns.  Today we will have a column of words for ow and ou, but both say /ou/. Then the other column is for the words that we make that do not have those sounds. 

Last the learners generate sentences with two of the words. I write several sentences that they generated with their partner on the board.  I am modeling writing, punctuation, and using the phonics skill. First graders need a lot of modeling.

Partner Work

20 minutes

The students go to the center tables with their collaborative partner.  They sort words that have the /ou/ sound and words that do not.  I basically just google, words with ou and ow, and use words from that list. They make a t- chart that has two columns.  The students write their list and use one word in a sentence.  

This lesson allows the student to sort words that have the sound they are looking for and words that do not.  Training students to hear sounds increases their automaticity with decoding.  Then they can focus more on what they are comprehending when reading instead of sounding out words.  

Student Reflection

5 minutes

Each child practices their speaking and listening skills as they present their work.  The students formed two rows.  They face each other.  Row one read to row two.  Then they trade.  This engages every student at the same time.  It also creates an atmosphere where every child can be successful in trying to speak without the whole class staring at them.


5 minutes

I ask each student to write a sentence using one word they know that has the ou or ow sound on a sticky note and place it on the Tweet Board.  This is the formative assessment I use to see who needs more work on the skill.  

I ask the class the echo, tell a friend, and repeat with me.  I say I can read, write, and spell words with ou and ow.  I explain to the class that this will speed up their reading fluency and allow them to concentrate more on what is happening in stories when they read.  I also explain that we will continue to use a variety of strategies to improve our phonics skills.