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Poems to Teach Vowel Digraphs

written by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • edited by: Pamela Rice-Linn • updated: 7/12/2012

Poems with vowel digraphs teach children how to recognize the single vowel sound that a digraph makes. Poems will reinforce the vocabulary, challenge students to be creative as well as have fun learning.

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    Finding Poems

    Finding poems with vowel diagraphs is easier than you may think. In addition to the many classic and contemporary poems to use to teach students lessons on digraphs, there are online resources for referencing or for scaffolding learning.

    For instance, the BBC has a site, Words and Pictures, that gives poems for each digraph that are read online with online tests that students can take to assess their grasp of the concept being taught. Use this site to scaffold language arts class during computer time.

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    What Is a Digraph

    What is a vowel digraph? A vowel digraph is two letters with a single vowel sound. The common vowel digraphs in American English are - EE, EA, OA, AY, AI, UE, EY, OO, OW, and IE.

    Words such as deep, clean, boat, may, paint, true, key, moon, show and tied are examples of digraphs. It is important to understand that they differ from diphthongs, which have two vowels that create to sounds, such as deer and pain. These are easily confused because often the second vowel sound is soft or only appears with certain regional accents.

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    Ideas for Teaching

    Poems that rhyme will help to reinforce the learning of the sounds of the vowel digraph. For instance, the children's classic Mother Goose Rhymes such as the Hey, Diddle, Diddle, or There Was a Crooked Man work well.

    Here the poems have the digraphs underlined -

    Hey! diddle, diddle,

    The cat and the fiddle,

    The cow jumped over the moon;

    The little dog laughed

    To see such sport,

    And the dish ran away with the spoon.

    ---

    There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,

    And found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile,

    He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

    And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

    Note that the "oo" makes different sounds in the two poems.

    Poems from around the world can be used for a digraph hunt. Find several poems for children from international authors. This not only fulfills the requirements to teach vowel digraphs, but also, international poetry. Here is a sample of a poem (Excerpt from Pablo Neruda's, A Lemon) for an international poetry word search.

    Out of lemon flowers

    loosed

    on the moonlight, love's

    lashed and insatiable

    essences,

    sodden with fragrance,

    the lemon tree's yellow

    emerges,

    the lemons

    move down

    from the tree's planetarium

    Ask students to circle each word with a vowel digraph. Then, for extra fun, have them take those words and create their own poem.

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    Word Lists and Nonsense Poems

    Introduce a vowel digraph at the beginning of the week with one or two words. Create an interactive word list board. (Click here for an brief list to begin your board.) Have students add words with the digraphs throughout the week. At the end of the week, ask them to create sentences using the words they found, putting them together to make a nonsense poem. For example - for the digraph "EE" there are the following words: feel, free, green, tree, seeds, Greek, wheel, three, feet. These words can create the following sentences: Three Greek trees grew from seeds. Freewheeling, the feet of a giant green toad landed on the trees. Feeling pretty sad, the green toad planted more seeds. This in turn can become this nonsense poem:

    Three Greek trees

    grew from seeds.

    Freewheeling, the feet of a giant

    green toad landed on the trees.

    Feeling pretty sad,

    the green toad planted

    more seeds.

    Nonsense poems are fun because they don't have to make sense. They, also, don't have to rhyme.

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    Word Poems

    Another idea for scaffolding learning of digraph is to have students create name poems, also known as an acrostic. Students can take their favorite word from the vowel digraph word list to create the poem. Ask them to try to use other words from the list in their poem. For example - using the word "moon" -

    DSCN3137 

    Made of cheese, some say

    Once a great mystery

    Often seen full and clear

    Near enough to touch, it seems

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    Final Thoughts

    Using poems with vowel digraphs can be a fun way to teach phonics lessons. Children love rhyme, which reinforces the sounds of the words. Being silly by creating nonsense poems, also, stimulates learning without children even knowing. Poetry and phonics make great teaching partners.

    Resources:

    • 40 Wonderful Blend & Digraph Poems by Dana Haddad and Shelley Grant
    • www.bbc.co.uk/schools
    • Photo by author


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