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R-Controlled Vowels Worksheets: 4 Free Printables!

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These four free printables help children practice identifying and reading words with r-Controlled vowels. The worksheets include focused practice with AR, ER, IR, OR, and UR patterns.

Bright background displaying the four worksheets for r-controlled vowel practice.

What are r-Controlled Vowels?

When a vowel is followed by the letter r, the r takes control of the vowel. The vowel will no longer say its long or short sound, but it joins together with the r and a new sound is created.

This is why it is sometimes called the “Bossy R.” The Vowel + r will come together to make ONE new sound!

Sounds of The Bossy R

  • a + r says /ar/
  • e + r says /ər/*
  • i + r says /ər/*
  • o + r says /or/
  • u + r says /ər/*

*er, ir, and ur all make the same sound.

The four colorful printed r-controlled worksheets laid out with a highlighter.

Teaching r-Controlled Vowels

Explicitly teach the r-Controlled vowels one at a time. I like to start by teaching AR by itself, and OR by itself.

Next, teach ER, IR, and UR together, because they have the same /ər/ sound, then develop the patterns one at a time on separate days.

Provide children with lots of opportunities to practice reading words with these patterns and sounds. Allow them to practice spelling words with these sounds as well, using word and sentence dictation.

👉 Helpful Tip: Use a keyword as an anchor for each bossy r pattern!

Here are the little chants I say with my students, using the free printable r-Controlled anchor chart. I flash my phonogram cards and kids say the sound, followed by the keyword in this jingle:

AR: “/ar/ like the /ar/ of car.”
OR: “/or/ like the /or/ of corn.”
IR: “/ir/ like the /ər/ of bird.”
ER: “/er/ like the /ər/ of her.”
UR: “/ur/ like the /ər/ of nurse.”

👉 Note: ER, IR, and UR are tricky! They all make the same sound, and there are no clear-cut spelling rules for which one to use.

Children must rely on visual memory and ask themselves, “Which one looks right?” This requires practice! Have students play our R-Controlled Bingo Game for more reinforcement.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to read the words on these worksheets, but to quickly identify and read words with controlled vowels within text.

Close up of the printed Er, Ir, Ur Worksheet with a highlighter.

The Worksheets

Each of the four worksheets focuses on AR, ER, IR, OR, or UR patterns.

Each worksheet allows students to practice reading over 20 words with r-controlled vowels, highlighting the vowels. The printables have been updated to only include one-syllable words. These are perfect to use when first introducing these new concepts.

Next, they’ll practice identifying words that match pictures. This is really helpful for practicing reading words that “look right.”

Hands holding a pencil completing the printed AR words worksheet.

Tips & Tricks

  • These pdf worksheets are designed for students Grades 1-3 to practice identifying and reading words with r-Controlled vowels.
  • Use decodable texts to support this important phonics skill.
  • Use these worksheets to challenge your students and deepen with spelling practice. For extra practice, flip over the worksheets and challenge kids to spell words that include these patterns!

Related Resources

Bright background with R-Controlled Vowels text and four worksheets

Download & Print

We’d love to hear about your experience using these worksheets!
Please leave a comment below or tag us on Instagram @literacylearn.

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AR Worksheet 260.84 KB 4647 downloads

Students will practice the Bossy R with words containing AR. Subscribe & Never...
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ER, IR, UR Worksheet 147.07 KB 4462 downloads

Students will practice the Bossy R with words containing ER, IR, UR. Subscribe &...
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OR Worksheet 119.54 KB 4045 downloads

Students will practice the Bossy R with words containing OR. Subscribe & Never...
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Bossy R Mixed Vowel Worksheets 566.22 KB 4867 downloads

Students will practice the Bossy R with words containing Ar, Er, Ir, Or, and Ur. Subscribe...

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6 Comments

  1. The 4 r-controlled worksheets are exactly what I need for my students. I like the separate sheets and the mixed practice one as well!!
    Thank you so much for sharing!!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for the lovely feedback. We’re thrilled this resource was helpful for your and your students!! 🙂 -Katie & Laura

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