Learn about the vowel diphthongs OI and OY and the best ways to teach them. And grab a FREE printable to help you teach your students this important phonics concept.
What is a Diphthong?
A diphthong is a vowel team of sorts, where two vowels come together to make a new sound.
👉 Diphthongs are similar to vowel teams, except there is an important distinguisher:
👉 In a diphthong, the vowels come together in a way where the mouth must glide from one starting position to a new ending position in order to make the sound.
👉 The two vowel sounds are merged to create a new sound. Diphthongs are also called gliding vowels.
How to Teach Diphthongs
I love to start out introducing new concepts with a listening challenge that begins with speech.
Tell kids to listen carefully and see if they can tell you what sound you hear repeated in this sentence: “Joy dropped her toy in the boiling oil.”
Hopefully they’ll will point out that they hear the sound “oi” repeated over and over. Use this as a springboard into your instruction as you teach all about diphthongs OI and OY.
🧏🏼♀️ Start with Speech
- Tap out some words with the /oi/ sound. Show kids how they hear two sounds in the word joy. Or three sounds in the word boil.
- Use mirrors and show the kids how their own mouths move when saying words with diphthongs They should see their mouth gliding when they get to the /oi/ sound in the word.
- Explicitly teach that the /oi/ diphthong is one of the 44 phonemes in English. Add the graphemes OI and OY to your classroom sound walls. Remember: Diphthongs are placed on the vowel valley wall but outside of the valley, similar to R-controlled vowels and schwa. This is because the diphthong doesn’t make a typical long or short sound, but instead forms a gliding vowel sound.
🔠 Move to Print
Most scope and sequences teach the graphemes oi and oy together. You can introduce the spellings using familiar sight words, like boy and coin.
Remember to reference the graphemes and keyword pictures on your sound wall during instruction.
Teach the spelling generalization that the grapheme OI is typically used at the beginning or middle of a word, and the grapheme OY is generally used at the end of a word.
I like to teach jingles like “Never a Q without a U.“ For this diphthong, I sing: “O-I in the middle says /oi/” and “OY at the end says /oi/.
Be sure to use activities that you give kids repeated practice and exposure to words with diphthongs.
Using the Worksheet
Use this oi/oy worksheet to help your students get learning how to accurately read and spell words with diphthong oi and oy.
We love this worksheet because it forces kids to look at pictures and listen for where they hear the /oi/ sound. Kids will sort the pictures into the correct column.
Included are these pictures:
Most follow the spelling generalization, but we also included others that don’t (oyster, royal). Use this as an opportunity to show kids these exceptions and build visual memory.
👌 Extend the activity: Using sound boxes, have kids write the words on the back of the worksheet.
More Teaching Resources
Looking for more multi sensory resources to use with your students when teaching diphthongs? Look no further!
Included are 9 diphthong worksheets for spelling practice, sorting practice, and word lists for decoding. Grab these awesome resources today for only $1!
- AI/AY worksheets
- All About Word Ladders
- 233+ Long E Words
- Phonics Mega Bundle with 293 pages!
- 376+ Pseudowords – 6 lists
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