The Nurse and er, ir, and ur

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SWBAT read, write, and spell words with er, ir, ar, and ur.

Big Idea

This lesson contains a fun file folder activity for students to use to learn to read, write, and spell words with er, ir, ar, and ur.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection 

In this lesson, students get a chance to apply grade level phonics skills in decoding words as we read the words and sort them. To help my students hear the initial, medial, and final sounds in words (RF.1.2c ), I ask them what part of the word has an "ir, ur, or" sound as they place the words in the chart during the word sort. I also like for my students do segment words containing this focus sound when they read the poem in the guided practice (RF.1.2d).  They are actually sounding out the words and decoding them as they read. I think poems tend to be great to use with phonics, because of the use of alliteration, rhythm, rhyme, and beats.

Lesson Overview

This lesson allows for the students to collaborate in heterogeneous groups (peanut butter jelly partners) of two or three and work toward spelling and reading words. I try to warm up their phonics skills in the guided practice with a word sort, then students work to read words with the ir, ur, and or sound, and last the learners play a fun file folder game.  I think sorting words with the target sound and words without the sound help students engage in a higher order thinking activity.

A very helpful management tool that I use throughout the lesson is transitions. Check out my video explaining and showing my classroom: transitions.


Learning should be fun, action packed, and exciting, right?  So, allowing the student to watch a video about the sounds gets the students thinking about the sounds that we are studying. When students are finished watching the video I tell the class that we will be learning words that have the er, ir, and ur sound.

I allow the students to make a list on a sticky note of all the words that have that sound.  This activates their prior knowledge and allows me to check their schema.  Its like a get a little glimpse of how much they already know about the sounds.

When students speak I think they really have to engage in the lesson, so I ask the students to state the learning goal.  I say, "I can read, write and spell words with er, ir, and ur." The class echos, tells a friend and then repeats the goal with me. By allowing students to repeat the goal they learn the focus of the lesson and telling a friend makes the learning goal personal.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Student remain seated in the lounge and are given one of the words from the word sort. I put all of the words in the resources, but we only use about 5 ir, 5, ur, 5 er, and then maybe 5 or 6 of the other.  There are four columns on the pocket chart.  Students walk up and place their words on the chart and reread the previous words put on the chart. I made a video showing the students working on the word sort in front of the class (guided practice). Then they say what part of the word the ir, ur, or or sound is in either the beginning, middle, or ending. The rest of the class will agree with the student's choice by showing thumbs up or down.  Sometimes I ask the learners to justify themselves after they disagree or agree. This strategy gives my students a chance to engage in a higher order thinking activity, since they have to justify themselves (peer evaluation). I ask students to volunteer a sentence or two using some or the r-controlled words.

After we finish the word sort we echo read the poem (r- controlled poem). Echo reading means I read one line and the students all repeat it aloud. This is a fun way to scaffold learning and help students read the words. Then we do a choral reading. I will have the girls read the first line, and the boys read the second.  Repeated reading is a great tool to build fluency, and using different strategies keeps it fun.

Partner Work

20 minutes

Students relocate to the desks where I explain the nurse file folder game (file folder game directionsfile folder game page 1file folder game page 2). They insert the correct ir, er, or in the blank and read it to me as I approach their desks. I walk around and help the students and monitor their progress.

Last, the students are given the file folder game where they turn over a card and read it (file folder game 2). If they can't read it they have to put it back in the pile. But, if you draw the nurse card you lose all your cards back to the pile. The goal is to get the most cards.  I really like games for practicing word reading.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

As this lesson comes to an end I like to allow the class to reflect on that they have learned and one way to do this is to allow the students to share something the learned.  By calling on several students to share aloud the class begins to reflect and discuss the lesson. I try to get the students to build upon what their peers say, make connections, and speak in complete sentences.  I feel that writing is directly related to speakings so I am quick to help the students learn correct verb tense and grammar as they speak. 


5 minutes

I like to keep the students seated in the lounge because the closure does not usually take a long time and I like for us to be close together.  I ask the students to write as many sentences they can using words with, ir, ur and er.  I give the class three minutes.  Then I ask the students to place their sticky notes on the Tweet Board. I read several of the outstanding examples because I want to celebrate my students good work, but I also want it to serve as a model for others.