Once your child has mastered sounding out words with short vowel sounds and consonant blends, you can start teaching her r-controlled vowels – the sounds that are made when an r follows a vowel. These sounds are neither short or long vowel sounds, they are in a class of their own. While there is no right or wrong time to introduce r-controlled vowels, I like to do it early on simply because they show up in so many high-frequency words. Here is a simple and fun activity to help your child begin to learn the sounds of er, ir, and ur.
As an optional warm-up for this activity, you can introduce the sounds of er, ir, and ur with the song “Er/Ir/Ur Tiger” from the album Sounds Fun Phonics. This album can be found on Spotify (and possibly other streaming services – please let me know in the comments if you find it on a different one!) Dance around, sing along, act like a tiger, have fun with this! Your child will love it and it will help him remember the sounds!
Er the Monster
For this activity you will need to print out and assemble Er the Monster. I recommend printing out the monster body on colored cardstock and the sheet with the eyes and such on white cardstock.
Have your child cut out the monster and the parts. Make sure to cut out the inside of the mouth. Have your child glue the eyes, teeth, and claws on Er with a glue stick. Cut out the bottom part of page 2 and fold it into a triangle. Tape the triangle together and then tape it to the back of Er so that he can stand up.
You will also need to print and cut out the er, ir, ur words.
Now it’s time to introduce your child to Er and feed him! Tell your child that this monster’s name is Er (as in – the sound at the end of tiger). He likes to eat words that have the sound “er” in them because it sounds like his name! Er, ir, and ur all make the sound “er.”
Ask your child to look for the “er” sound in each of the er, ir, ur word cards, sound out the word, and then feed it to Er!
Make monster eating sounds while your child feeds Er. Get as theatrical as you want with this – have fun!