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Students will
Learn how to look for the vowel pairs ow, ew, and aw in unknown words

Recognize the common and alternative sounds for ow, ew, and aw

Use context to determine which sound works in a word

Spell and read words containing these vowel pairs


Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 1991)

Letter tiles or squares for students

Overhead letter tiles

Overhead projector


1. Read aloud Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.

2. After reading the book, remind students that Chrysanthemum was named after
a flower and that every time Victoria said something bad about Chrysanthemum's name,
Mrs. Chud said, "Thank you for sharing that with us, Victoria. Now put your head down."

3. Ask students what common sound they hear in the words flower, now, and down.

4. Using the overhead projector and overhead letter tiles, demonstrate the word now,
explaining that the vowel combination ow often stands for the sound in now.

5. Distribute letter tiles or squares to individuals or pairs of students, and ask them to follow
along with you through a few sample exercises.

6. "Let's make the word down. What is the first sound you hear? That is right, /d/. Now, what
two letters make the /ow/ sound? What's the ending sound?" (Have students place their
letters as you demonstrate). Have students read the word, and possibly write the word in
their journal or personal dictionary.

7. Continue, dictating the words cow, plow, town, brown, frown, clown, and flower. Always
have students read the new word after making it. You might also have them use the new
word in a sentence to reinforce vocabulary. Students may need additional help with
the er ending in the word flower.
8. Explain that sometimes ow stands for a different sound. Using the overhead letter tiles,
make the word grow. Ask students what vowel sound they hear in grow (long /o/ sound).
Continue, dictating the words low, glow, mow, show, snow, crow, and tow, having students
use their letters to make the words.

9. Next, on the overhead, make the word bow. Explain that this word can be pronounced
with either the sound in now or the sound in grow. The only way to tell which sound is
correct is by how the word is used in the sentence. Ask students which sound bow would
make in the sentence, "The package was wrapped with a big, red _____." Then, "After the
concert, the singer took a _____." Explain that sometimes you must read the whole
sentence to know which sound to use in the word.

10. Bookmark the website Word Families in Nursery Rhymes. Have students find and read the
two lists for the owword family. Then, have them scroll down to find the nursery rhymes
and select "Jack and Jill" for /ow/ as in now and "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" for /ow/ as
in grow. Have students read the nursery rhymes aloud.
Teacher observation during the lesson, and ongoing assessment to determine
whether the student is able to read and spell the words correctly and apply the
generalizations to other texts.
After the introductory lesson, dictate the same words plus other words with the
same vowel combination to see if the student has mastered the spelling patterns.
Using the same words previously dictated, have the student read the words to see
if the knowledge gained in spelling has transferred to the task of reading.
Observe whether students can determine the pronunciation of a word based on
the context of the sentence.
Encourage students to use the words that they have learned when writing in their
journal or notebook.

MO.CC.RL.2. Reading Standards for Literature

Key Ideas and Details

RL.2.1. Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate
understanding of key details in a text.

MO.CC.RF.2. Reading Standards: Foundational Skills

RF.2.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
MO.CC.SL.2. Speaking and Listening Standards

Comprehension and Collaboration

SL.2.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and
texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

MO.CC.L.2. Language Standards

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

L.2.4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases
based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.