Bossy R is another one of the most common vowel patterns. This pattern causes a lot of confusion for children. So let’s demystify this pattern and make it a little easier to understand.
First, each vowel comes before the r in this pattern. When the vowel comes before the r, the r makes the vowel say a sound that is closer to the r sound. To teach this you can collect words and place them on the vowel pattern chart like was done for the other patterns, or you can put a each of these words on a separate index card. Then, have the child sort the words by their initial vowel. An example is listed below.
After the child has sorted the words by the initial vowel, ask these questions.
1. What sound do -er words make?
2. What sound do -ir words make?
3. What sound do -ur words make?
If your child hasn’t noticed that -er, -ir, and -ur words all make the same sound, then you can say, “Wait a minute, do -er, -ir, and -ur words all make the same sound?” Most likely your child will notice that -er, -ir, and -ur all make the same sound. Always group these three r patterns together. When the child is trying to figure out a word with one of these patterns in it, then you can ask, “Do you remember what sound er, ir, and ur make? When the child says “er,” then you can say, “That is correct, try it.”
There is a little story that I made up about bossy r to help kids remember this pattern. First ask the child if he/she happens to know anyone that is really bossy at times and really nice at times. Usually each child knows at least one. Then, tell the child that bossy r is just like them. R is really nice to her vowel friends when she comes before the vowel, but when r comes after the vowel she becomes bossy and makes the vowel say a sound that sounds more like her. So, er, ir, and ur all say /r/. -or sounds just like the word and -ar sounds like a pirate. Ask the child what a pirate says. The child will have lots of fun with saying Arrr.
Check out the video below that shows how to teach the Bossy R pattern.