How to Teach the OW Spelling Rule


If you have been following along with our weekly blogs, then you know that we have been doing our vowel team series. Today, we are talking about “ow.”

The “ow” vowel team.

We use the key phrase “Snow Plow” to teach this phonogram because “ow” has two sounds. It says /O/ like in the snow, and /ow/ like in plow. Now, typically students recognize the “ow” (like in plow) sound first, as they have seen “ow” as a word by itself. They are usually surprised by the long O sound (like in snow) even though this is actually the more common of the two.

Lesson Instruction

Our Snow Plow game. Helps teach kids the OW vowel team rules.

Our vowel team lessons always follow the same flow as our regular lesson. We warm up with our Sound Drill, do some review work, introduce the new phonogram, and then practice decoding & encoding. With “ow,” (and the other vowel teams with more than one sound) we always introduce segmented lists prior to asking students to decode a list that includes words with both sounds. That way. they get practice with all of the /O/ sounds first, then the /ow/ sound, and then they are tasked with figuring out which to use in a combined list.

If you are thinking about teaching the /ow/ phonogram, check out our OW activities on Teachers Pay Teachers! Remember, you absolutely CAN teach your students how to read. Vowel teams can be intimidating, but take a breath. You’ve got this, and we are here if you ever have any questions!