Diphthong Lesson Plan
The Right Diphthong

  • Students will learn to read words containing the diphthongs ow, ou, oi, and oy.
  • Students will learn to write and spell words containing the diphthongs ow, ou, oi, and oy.
About the Concept:

Diphthongs are glided vowel sounds that combine two individual sounds within a single syllable. Two common diphthongs in English are the /ow/ sound as in the word cow and the /oy/ sound as in the word boy. The diphthong ow combines /a/ as in cat with /oo/ as in in zoo. This diphthong can be spelled with the letters o-w or o-u. The diphthong oy combines /aw/ as in law with /ee/ as in see. This diphthong can be spelled with the letters o-i or o-y. Because of the spelling variations for each diphthong, writers need to choose between two possible spellings when they wish to spell a diphthong word. It is important that students build up a repertoire of familiar diphthong words that they have seen in print and can call to mind when writing. The song, The Right Diphthong, provides students with practice in spelling frequently used diphthong words containing each of the four spelling patterns. Diphthong words are grouped by spelling families (e.g., out/shout, found/hound, cow/now, brown/crown). As students sing the spelling patterns, they view the words on the Mini-Charts, reinforcing learning through both auditory and visual channels as they form memory links to diphthong spelling families. Once students have mastered the basic words in the song, they can think of other examples of diphthong words and practice them with the instrumental version of the song.

  • Sing Your Way Through Phonics Volume 2 CD, Tracks 9 and 10 (Listen to audio sample)
  • Sing Your Way Through Phonics Volume 2 Mini-Charts (pp. 45-50)
  • Index cards with the following printed words (1 per card): out, shout, found, hound, cow, now, brown, crown, oil, boil, coin, join, toy, boy, joy, Roy
  • Blank index cards and colored markers or other writing utensils
  • Several dictionaries or spelling dictionaries
  • Optional:
    • Game cards (containing one word each from the following: noise, voice, choice, avoid, boil, broil, coil, foil, oil, soil, spoil, toil, coin, join, couch, crouch, ouch, slouch, cloud, loud, aloud, shroud, ounce, pounce, bounce, around, bound, found, ground, hound, mound, round, sound, wound, flounder, founder, count, fountain, mountain, sour, scour, flour, blouse, mouse, grouse, house, about, pout, spout, scout, route, trout, bow, cow, chow, how, now, plow, sow, vow, wow, crowd, powder, chowder, towel, trowel, flower, glower, power, shower, tower, owl, howl, brown, crown, drown, frown, ahoy, annoy, boy, coy, destroy, employ, foyer, joy, loyal, Roy, royal, soy, toy, Troy)
    • 8 small circles in two contrasting colors
    • 8 pieces of construction paper in contrasting colors, scissors, glue.

Note: If you do not have the CD or Mini-Charts, you can still teach this diphthongs lesson plan using the folk tune listed on the The Right Diphthong Song Lyrics page. You can create your own mini-charts using the words in bold print letters in each verse of the Song Lyrics.

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mini-chart pages
mini-chart pages
  1. Say, “Today, we are focusing on words with the /ow/ sound and the /oy/ sound. We call these sounds diphthongs.” (Note that the spelling is “diphthong,” not “dipthong.”)
  2. Point to the Mini-Charts on pages 46-47. Say, “What is the vowel sound in each of these words?” (/ow/) “What are the two ways we can spell the /ow/ sound?” (o-u and o-w)
  3.  Point to the Mini-Charts on pages 48-49. Say, “What is the vowel sound in each of these words?” (/oy/) “What are the two ways we can spell the /ow/ sound?” (o-i and o-y)
  4. Say, “Now, let’s listen to the song and join in on the answers to the questions?” Play CD Track 9 while pointing to the words on Mini-Charts pp. 46-49. Students recite the spelling patterns as they are spoken in the song.
  5. Say, “This time, let’s let half the class sing the questions and the other half say the answers. Who would like to point to the words on the Mini-Charts?” Play CD Track 9 again and allow one student to point to the words on the charts while the two groups alternate singing the questions and speaking the answers.
  6. Say, “What do you notice about every set of two words?” (They rhyme; they have the same spelling patterns) Say, “What is the common sound in the words out and shout?” /out/ “How is it spelled?” (o-u-t) “Who knows a word that rhymes with out and shout?” (about, route, spout, stout, without, scout) As each word is offered, ask “How is /out/ spelled in this word?” (o-u-t) Write students’s examples on the board and ask them to spell them aloud.
  7. Say, “So when we find a word that rhymes with one of the words in this song, chances are it is spelled with the same vowel pattern.”
  8. Divide the class into small groups. Give each group a few blank index cards and an index card with one of the Mini-Chart words. Ask the students to think of a word that rhymes with the word on their card and write it on the blank index card. If they think of more than one rhyming word, they can use the additional blank cards. Remind them to keep the spelling pattern the same unless they think they have thought of an exception. Allow 5 minutes for this activity.
  9. Ask each group to check the spelling of any words they have written by looking in the dictionary.

  10. Display the cards in spelling families on a word wall or pocket chart.

mini-chart blank page template
sample alternative diphthong words
  1. Practice singing The Right Diphthong daily for a few days. Allow some of the students to be the leaders, pointing to the Mini-Chart words and singing the questions. For every set of facing pages, choose 1-3 students to sing the questions.
  2. Substitute some of the words students have written on their cards for the words in the song. Write these words on the Mini-Charts Templates. Example: If students with the word out on their index card thought of the words trout and about, substitute these two words for out and shout on the Mini-Charts. If students have thought of only one rhyming word, keep one of the original words and substitute the new word for the other original word. Example: out (original), about (new). Sing the song with the Mini-Chart Templates using the instrumental version (Track 10).
  3. Introduce other diphthong words. (See Optional Materials above.) Write the spellings and have students look them up in the dictionary. Find exceptions--words that rhyme that do not use the same spelling pattern--and display them in a separate location. Examples: crowd/loud, avoid/annoyed, out/Sauerkraut/doubt, bow/bough/Thou.

diphthong pyramid spelling game
  1. Play the Diphthong Pyramid spelling game. Draw or cut out 8 concentric squares of varying colors. Draw 2 diagonals connecting outermost corners. Label the center quadrants oi, oy, ow, and ou. Distribute four playing pieces (colored circles) to each player or team. Place one of each player’s pieces in the outermost rung of each quadrant. Shuffle the playing cards listed above under Optional Materials. The leader reads the topmost card without revealing it to the players. A player must select the playing piece in the quadrant with the correct spelling pattern and move it one rung toward the center. The leader then reveals the index card to the players and places it on the bottom of the pile. If a player has moved the wrong piece, that playing piece is set back one rung. Players alternate turns until all of one player’s pieces have reached the center square. For added fun, label some cards Extra Turn, Lose a Turn, and Free Choice. Drawing the Free Choice card enables a player to move any playing piece one rung forward.
  2. Newspaper Diphthong Activities: Have students circle all the diphthong words they can find in the newspaper in 10 minutes. Share findings with the class. Make a bar graph showing the frequencies of oi, oy, ow, and ou words.

  1. Students read all the words on Mini-Charts pp. 46-49.
  2. Students pass a spelling test on all Mini-Chart words and class-generated examples.
  3. Students spell diphthong words correctly in their journals and other writing assignments.

Combo 2 photo
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