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Home » Blog » Literacy » Phonics » How to Introduce Vowel Teams Using a Sound Wall

How to Introduce Vowel Teams Using a Sound Wall

Literacy, Phonics, Science of Reading, Spelling & Word Work

Written by: Katie Palmer

Ready to teach your students about vowel teams? Interested in learning how to teach vowel teams with the aid of a classroom sound wall? Here at Lucky Little Learners, we just so happen to have a sample lesson ready for you! So, grab a snack, sit back and read all about how a sound wall can help your phonics instruction rock!

Ready to teach your students about vowel teams? Interested in learning how to teach vowel teams with the aid of a classroom sound wall? Read on for a sample lesson!

What is a sound wall?

A sound wall is different than a traditional word wall. A Sound wall is NOT the alphabet, but rather represents all of the sounds (phonemes) students will learn through reading instruction. A sound wall also has images showing how students will form the sounds. This allows students to practice the sounds more easily – and makes for the perfect tool when it comes to introducing new phonics concepts.

Sample Vowel Teams Lesson

So how do you use the sound wall to teach a phonics lesson? Here is a step by step sample lesson using the vowel teams ai and ay.

  1. Draw student attention to your sound wall. Point at the long a sound card. Say, “Alright class, what sound does this card represent?” Hopefully they will say the long a sound. Tell them to make the a sound with you, paying attention to how their mouth forms the sound.
long a sound wall cards, including a mouth card so students can see how to form the sound with their mouths

2. Write and ai and ay word the board. For example, brain and stay. Using two fingers, point at the vowel team in brain. Say, “Sound?”. The students will make the long a sound.

Use two fingers to point out the vowel team inside the word "brain" and have students make the sound aloud

3. Point at the b and model running your finger under the word. Say the word is brain. (Sound it out as you pull your finger under it.) Ask students, “What’s the word”? They will say, “brain”.

Follow the same steps for the ay sound in stay.

4. Next, have students sound out other ai and ay words you write on the board, having them sound out the words while you sweep your fingers under the sounds. Keep asking, “Sound?” under the ai and ay sounds in each word before. you sound out the whole word. If possible, add these words to your sound wall.

sound wall cards for the explicit teaching of long a spelling patterns

5. Continue practicing the sound through word work and decodable texts. (See decodable resources below!)

Phonics Mats

A sample Lucky Little Learners Phonics Mat for practicing the ai vowel team both in isolation and in context.

Read more about the sound wall here: Let’s Talk About the Classroom Sound Wall

Science of Reading

Want to know more about aligning your literacy instruction with Science of Reading principles? Check out these posts:

Happy teaching!

a sound wall in the classroom is the perfect visual aid for an explicit phonics lesson on vowel teams


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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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