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Lesson Plans

Diphthong Word Hunts

Author Information

Author: Linda Carrey - lcarrey@aol.com
Organization: Horizon Elementary

Lesson Plan Information

Subject: Language Arts
Category: Reading
Grade Level: Second - Third
Duration: 30 minutes; 5 sessions


Children look for diphthongs and other vowel patterns in stories they are reading.


Students will learn vowel sounds and improve decoding ability.


Students will find and record words with ou and ow in stories in their reading books. The teacher will record their findings on the white board. Students will then read back the words using the "ow" sound to see if the words make sense.

Educational Resources:

Reading text books, pencils, paper, white board, marker to record on the white board.

Reference Materials:

These websites provide excellent followup practice in sounding out words: www.starfall.com and www.bbc.co.uk/schools/wordsandpictures/phonics/sandcastle, which is a website from Britain which gives children practice in filling in missing vowel sounds.

Activity Plan:

Explain to class that some vowels make a special sound when they are next to each other and the vowels cannot be sounded out individually. They are the diphthongs. I call the ow, ou sound the "pinch" sound and ask the children to gently pinch their arms when they see "ou" or "ow" in a word. Of course, "ou" and "ow" can have other sounds such as in "touch" and "snow," but the "ou" pinch sound is the most common. After we brainstorm words with the "ou" pinch sound and I record them on the white board with a carrot over the ou/ow indicating the pinch sound, I ask the children to reread their literature story for the week and write down any words spelled with ou/ow. When most of them have finished, I ask them to call out the words they've found. Not all will have the ou/ow dipthong, but with this method the children learn to try to ou/ow "pinch" sound first. Another week, we look for oi/oy words in a story, au/aw words, ew words, and oo words.

Method of Learning:

Working with partners and group discussion.


After lessons for each diphthong sound, observe the children using a running record to determine if they have learned the five diphthong sounds: ou/ow (pinch sound of ou as in ouch), au/aw (aw sound), oi/oy (oy sound), ew (the long u sound as in new), and oo (the long u sound as in moon), and oo (the sound heard in book).