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Step 6: Bossy R also called R Controlled (& Contractions Detour)

Bossy r syllable poster ar, er, ir, ur, or
r controlled syllable poster ar, er, ir, ur, or
Bossy r / r controlled
Bossy r syllable poster ar, er, ir, ur, or
r controlled syllable poster ar, er, ir, ur, or
bossy r might say “air”

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Bossy r Definition:
VR stands for Vowel r, which is the Bossy r (also called r-controlled) syllable. The r changes the sound of the vowel that comes right before it.

Teaching Videos and Written Stories

Bossy r Video
ar, er, ir, ur, or
Bossy r and w
war, wor

Written Stories

PowerPoints and Google Slides PowerPoints for teaching short vowel words CVC Google Slides Icon

For the formatting of PowerPoints to be correct, click FILE, then DOWNLOAD, and download in Microsoft PowerPoint.

  • PowerPoint: Bossy r from Teaching Video
  • PowerPoint practice with pirate says “arrrr”: Target Skill: Bossy r read just the Bossy r sound that is highlighted as you click, then read the whole word.  Train your brain to notice and read these chunks!
  • PowerPoint: How W tricked Bossy r from Teaching Video
  • PowerPoint: All Syllable Types with Practice (Directions in notes section on each slide) Use only slides that are relevant to where you are in the steps.

Teach Along the Way with Bossy r Teach along the way with short vowels


Teach and add the relevant sounds, (ar, er, ir, ur, or, and war, wor when ready) from the Big Sounds Pack to daily practice.

Why is there an e at the end of these words?!
When going through Bossy r words, many students notice a seemingly random letter e at the end of words like nerve, serve, nurse and horse.  This is a great opportunity to teach  the following two reasons that a silent e might be at the end of a word. 

English never ends words in v (or i, j, u).  If a word ends in the /v/ sound, it will have an e after the v as in the case of nerve and serve. 

The word is singular and ends in the /s/ sound. Usually when we have an s at the end of a word it means there are more than one of that word.  For example one chair, two chairs.  The word nurse does not mean there is something called a nur, and there are two of them, two nurs.  In order to be clear that the s is part of the word  nurse (meaning one nurse) and not an ending meaning more than one, the e is added to the end. Same goes for horse, and verse.

For more reasons e comes at the end of words, go to Why is There An e at the End of This Word?

Contractions Detour! Detour

Contractions Detour!
Sometimes we shove 2 words together and use an an apostrophe to show where we took out the letter(s). “Is not” can also be “isn’t.”

Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-2Bundle: Contractions Lesson and 4 Games
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-2Contractions PowerPoint
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-2Contractions flashcards: Match the contraction to the words spelled out.

Tips Tips

Note on Bossy r: When introducing bossy r, introduce the basic ar, er, ir, ur, and or. Once this is learned introduce wor, war, and the idea that anytime bossy are is not saying what it should, take a deep breath of air and pronounce it /air/.

Map Sounds to Letters

Map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map Sounds To Letters examples

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words, for example:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /ŭ/. Point out that this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…

Key and Directions for Materials Key

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1K-1 Beginning
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-21-2 Growing
Pink Plus: intervention, challengeIntervention/Challenge

Bundle: Multiple types of materials (games, activities, stories…) bundled together.
Pack: Multiple pieces of the same type of material, for example a pack of books.

Directions for everything else:

More on the Directions Page

Sample Bundle

Sample Bundle contains samples of the stories, games, lists, flashcards, fluency pyramids, activities, spelling and more you will find in the practice section below.

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