image of our Classroom Spelling Program from

When Two Vowels Go Walking …

One of the cute rhymes educators use to help them teach vowel teams to students is, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” Although this is the case for some vowel teams it is definitely not true for over 60% of the sounds two vowels make when they are together.
  • ai says /A/ as in snail
  • ay says /A/ as in day
  • ea says /E/ as in eagle
  • ea says /e/ as in bread
  • ee says /E/ as in feet
  • ei says /E/ as in ceiling
  • ey says /E/ as in key
  • ie says /I/ as in pie
  • igh says /I/ as in light
  • oa says /O/ as in boat
  • oe says /O/ as in toe
  • ow says /O/ as in snow
  • ue says /U/ as in argue
BUT, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does NOT do the talking,” is true for these vowel teams.
  • au says /o/ as in August
  • aw says /o/ in saw
  • ea says /A/ as in break
  • ei says /A/ in reindeer
  • eigh says /A/ as in eight
  • eu says /U/ as in feud
  • ew says /oo/ in screws
  • ew says /U/ in few
  • ey says /A/ as in they
  • ie says /E/ as in thief
  • oi says /oy/ as in oil
  • oo says /oo/ as in spoon
  • oo says /oo/ as in book
  • ou says /oo/ as in soup
  • ou says /ou/ as in mouse
  • ou says /u/ as in country
  • ow says /ou/ as in crown
  • oy says /oy/ as in toy
  • ue says /oo/ as in blue
  • ui says /oo/ as in fruit
You can make a wallchart to show the examples of the sounds made by the vowel teams. Record the wordlists of the same sound on the same chart. Example - all the different ways of making the sound A and noticing their position in the word. A - ai, ay, ea, ey, ei, and eigh. There are other ways to spell the sound /A/ that are not vowel teams - a (paper), a-consonant-e (cake), et (ballet), e(cafe)

Our spelling program gives you words lists and tells you the position of each of the sounds to cut down on your prep time.

Associating a vowel team sound with a keyword and visual increases the likelihood of students retaining them. They see the letters, hear the sound, connect to a keyword visual, and read and write the new sound. All research agrees with the need to use a multi sensory approach to help students retain spellings, and how important the connection between the sound, written word, and reading is. Spelling has to be explicitly taught for students to fully understand the mechanisms of building words.

image of 'io' and 'ai' rule pages from the classroom Spelling Program from
When using our spelling program you can create opportunities to learn when you are brainstorming the wordlists with your classroom. If a student identifies a different vowel team making the sound you can make an alternate list with words using the new vowel team sound in a mini lesson, and then reintroduce the full lesson at a later time. This increases the knowledge base and examples for your students, and seizes an opportunity presented by the students. Children are more likely to learn and retain the information when they are using real world experiences occurring in your classroom, and applying them to their spelling, reading, and writing.
Take a look at our Classroom Spelling Program in the School section of our site.