Building up with Bossy R {Activity Ideas & a Freebie!}

Bossy R Activities and Ideas

Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to discuss good old Bossy R and how to build up from phonemic awareness to higher order thinking. Of course, it will incorporate some activities and include a freebie.

I like to set foundations and build up when it comes to mastering phonics skills. I have these levels I like to use. First is identification, then isolation, blending, segmenting, addition (adding sounds together), and substitution. Once students get those foundations set, then they are well prepared to spell the words, read the words, and write with the words. Now if you are saying, say what to all that, I actually have broken down each area below and put some suggested activities with each. With many of the areas, some phonemic awareness activities can be used during carpet time or in small groups. However, I have included some actual phonics ideas with each area too.

1. Identify Bossy R. Here students are learning to identify words that contain those r-controlled vowels. This typically involves distinguishing between words that contain bossy r and those that don’t.

Identifying Activity #1: For a phonemic awareness activity, you can simply name words. Students can point their bossy fingers if the words contain an r-controlled phoneme.

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Identifying Activity #2: Sort words. Students can sort words that contain bossy r, and those that do not.

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2. Isolate Bossy R. Here students isolate or locate where the bossy r sound is in the word.

Isolating Activity #1: Where it is. You can place out just about anything for this activity, counters, traditional box frame, and TOYS!!! You say a word and students tap if the r-controlled vowel is in the beginning, middle, or end of the word.
Isolating Activity #2: Isolate with a shark toy. Snag up a shark picture or toy from somewhere for some extra fun! This is very similar to the Where it is activity, only anything with a shark deserves its own activity number, right? 😉 Students simply tap where the r-controlled vowel sound is located. Is it in the beginning? Tap the shark’s head. Is it in the middle? Tap the shark’s body. Is it at the end? Tap the shark’s tail.

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Isolating Activity #3: Students show the isolated sounds by writing the phonemes where it belongs.
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3. Blend Bossy R. Here students take the individual sounds and put it all together. Getting students to blend the words fluently for reading is the goal.

Blending Activity #1: Blend the letters. You can write some words on some index cards and let students practice blending the words in small groups or as a center activity.

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Blending Activity #2: Roll a word. You write the phonemes on some dice that have the dry erase option, create cards to fit in some dice with the sleeves, or put some stickers with the phonemes on some foam dice. I recommend including not only basic consonants and bossy r, but also some digraphs and blends. Students roll the dice and blend away. You can even put a game twist on it with them trying to make the most real words.

Blending Activity #3: Show your blending. Let them show you their blending on paper with activities that require them to connect words to pictures. You could even have them illustrate what the words on a separate sheet.

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Click here to link to this resource.

4. Segment Bossy R. Here students break apart words that contain bossy r. An example is the word surf. S-ur-f. This is different from isolating the sounds because here students are dealing with each sound in the word, instead of only isolating the r-controlled vowel.

Segmenting Activity #1: Break apart bossy r words. For a phonemic awareness activity, students can hold invisible hammers or toy hammers. They can break apart each phoneme in the words by pounding out each sound.

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Segmenting Activity #2: Segmenting in the box. You can actually do a simple phonemic activity with this. Say a word. Students point to each box as they say each segmented sound.

Segmenting Activity #3: Isolate in the boxes (phonics style). Students segment the word by writing the phonemes in the boxes.

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5. Add the phonemes (or graphemes) together. Here additional phonemes (or graphemes) are added.

Adding Activity #1: When art becomes a cart. Say some words and have students add an additional phoneme. Example: What word would you have if you added “c” to art? Cart. What word would you have if you added “s’ to tar? Star. What word would you have if you added “sh” to ark? Shark.

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Adding Activity #2: Word adding. Students add the graphemes together to form the words.

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6. Sub Bossy R. Here students play around with the words by subbing phonemes in the word for other phonemes.

Subbing Activity #1: Turning sharks into parks. Say some words and have students sub one of the phonemes for another phoneme. Example: If you take the word, shark, and change “sh” to “p,” what do you get? Park. If I take the word, torn, and change “th” to “t,” what do I get? Thorn.

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Subbing Activity #2: Word Munching.  Have students munch off the phoneme and add a different letter on top to form a new word.

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7. Moving Up to Spelling with R-Controlled Vowels. I like to incorporate spelling too. I think it important students have time to develop some phonemic awareness and phonics skills with the words before they are expected to memorize a bunch of spelling words though. After all, they can’t memorize every word in the world that contains an r-controlled vowel off a spelling list!

Spelling Activity #1: Build the words. Students can use letter manipulatives to build the words.

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Spelling Activity #2: Crossword Puzzles. You can use one of the free crossword building sites out there to create some crossword puzzles.

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8. Comprehending Words with Bossy R. It’s important that students read r-controlled vowel words within context.

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Comprehending Activity: Students can identify words they see with the r-controlled vowels in books or passages they read.

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Click here to link to this resource.

9. Incorporating Higher-Order Thinking with Bossy R Words. I believe it is important to push the boundaries of simple identification and application to synthesis and creativity. Ok, say what? It’s important to push them up on that Bloom’s Taxonomy aka use their brains!

Higher-order thinking Activity: Have students use a list of bossy r words to write a fun, short story.

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Click here to link to this resource. 

Here is some organization inspiration. This is my organized binder of printables. This is actually from my diphthong no prepset, but they are set-up the same with the same activities. I have these broken into different sections with the section dividers I created and include in the resource. It is so nice to have them all pulled together like this. Easy to find, and makes differentiating instruction easy too. 🙂

Click here to link to the no prep printable pack.

Here is a link to the free sample!

I hope I inspired you with many ideas for teaching those r-controlled vowels! Make sure to get on my email list for some more inspiring ideas right to your box!

Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

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Jolene 🙂



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