Professional Development

February 18, 2024

6 Easy Activities to Help Teach Vowel Teams

Have you heard the chant “when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking”? It is commonly used to help teach vowel teams. I remember teaching my students this refrain during reading small groups. A few of my students were struggling with words like peach, read, and pie. I don’t remember where I heard that chant, but I used it.

Now, it makes me cringe.


Because there are so many words that do not follow what the chant says. What about the word chief? Or steak? It is not always true that when “two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking”. I now know better. I wish I could go back to my reading small group at my table and teach them differently. Teach them that vowel teams can work together to make many different sounds.

Vowel Teams can be tricky for students because there are so many of them, and they make lots of different sounds. Let’s chat about some easy ways to incorporate activities for vowel teams in the classroom.

Vowel Team Misconceptions

One common misconception about vowel teams is the chant we discussed above. The chant works for some words but not all. There are so many words that have vowel teams in them, and the first vowel is not the one doing the talking. 

Another common misconception is that a vowel team only makes one sound. That is not true. Many vowel teams make more than one sound.

The vowel team ea can make three sounds. The vowel team ie can also make three sounds.

It is important for us to know the different sounds a vowel team can make so that we can teach our students them.

Whole Group Activities to Try

Vowel Team Read Aloud Books

Books are always a great way to expose students to phonics skills. I would often read a book aloud and then pull words out of the book that had the phonics skill I was teaching. Some great read alouds that have words with vowel teams are Sheep in a Jeep, The Mighty Silent e, and Sneezy the Snowman.

I would make a list of the words, and then we would chat about what vowel team was in them and what sound we hear the vowel team saying.

If your school has a subscription to Epic, there is a collection of vowel teams books on there too!

A Vowel Team Visual Aid: A Sound Wall

A sound wall is a great visual to have in your classroom. It allows students to see different ways a sound may be spelled. They should also have a picture of that word and the spelling in the word.

You can find a Sound Wall HERE to get started!

Vowel Team Word Sorts

Word Sorts are a hands-on way for students to have exposure to and practice with phonics skills. Sometimes, phonics curriculum comes with lots of word sorts. We loved word sorts in my classroom!

Students would partner up and sort words based on a specific phonics skill. They could not just sort the words, they can read them as they sorted. Afterward, we would discuss the phonics skill that we saw in the words we sorted. We would also try to generate other words that had the same phonics pattern.

Vowel Team Games

Students love games! Once your students know what vowel teams are, you can look for games where they will practice reading words with their specific sounds. I have ready-made games inside my Vowel Team Centers. Students will identify and generate words as they focus on this phonics skill. These are great to use in a whole group setting, especially if you are able to partner kids up and monitor while they play! You’ll be able to really see where they need continued practice and support.

Vowel Teams Printable Game

Another game that could be played whole group is “Swat the Vowel Team”. The teacher writes lots of words all over the board that contain these phonics patterns. Students line up in a line and are handed a fly swatter. When it is each student’s turn, the teacher calls out a vowel team or a sound a vowel team makes. The students have to swat the word that has the vowel team or the sound.

Vowel Teams Games

This is a game my students loved playing, and it can be adapted in so many different ways!

Small Group Ideas to Try

Vowel Team Decodable Passages

There are so many resources that can be used in your small groups to give students practice with vowel teams. Decodable passages are a great way for students to practice phonics skills by only focusing on one skill at a time. You can find them HERE.

Vowel Teams Decodable Passages

Vowel Team Decodable Readers

Students can also practice vowel teams using a decodable reader. A good decodable reader will introduce one vowel team at a time, and the skills will build on one another, just like in a passage. Check them out HERE.

Vowel Teams Reading Small Group Materials

Independent Work Ideas to Try

Independent Reading Time

Independent reading time is a great time to practice reading words with vowel teams. In my classroom, we liked to keep a book box for each kiddo, and in there, we would put books that I KNEW they could be successful reading without me by their side.

Vowel Teams decodable books

Vowel Team Centers

Center time is my second favorite time of the day to incorporate phonics skill practice. Students can work on these activities independently or in a group while you work with your small groups. Students can identify vowel teams, generate words, and practice reading words–all independently or with a partner!

Vowel Team Centers

You can find this set of 10 centers HERE.

Vowel teams can feel like a BIG phonics concept to teach, and the reality is that they unlock so many new words for kids! What are some ways you incorporate vowel teams in your classroom? Do you have any favorite activities? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? This FREE guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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