Diphthongs are blended vowel sounds expressed in one syllable. They are formed by a combination of two vowels (AU, OI, OO, OU, OY) or by a combination of a vowel and the letter W (OW, AW, EW). Examples of words with diphthongs include boil, school, toy, cow and few. Interactive games and activities are an effective way to teach diphthongs in primary school.

Newspaper Activity

Give students 10 or 15 minutes to circle as many diphthongs as they can find
Give students 10 or 15 minutes to circle as many diphthongs as they can find

Pass out a children's newspaper, magazine or photocopied story. The handout should be something the students can mark up. Give students 10 or 15 minutes to circle as many diphthongs as they can find. Next, you can have students compare answers or share a word with the class.

Rhyming Game

Direct the students going first to write down a word that rhymes with the word on the board
Direct the students going first to write down a word that rhymes with the word on the board

Divide students into groups of three to five. Give each group a sheet of paper and a pencil. Ask them to decide who will go first. Write a word containing a diphthong on the board. Direct the students going first to write down a word that rhymes with the word on the board.That student should then pass the paper to the next student, who should do the same. When students can no longer find rhyming words, ask them to share their answers. Use a new starter word to repeat the exercise as many times as you like. Before each round, ask each group to set a goal for the number of rhyming words they expect to find. A list of rhyming diphthongs might include words such as brown, town, crown, frown, gown and clown.

Mix and Mingle

Pass out index cards with parts of words or single letters written on them
Pass out index cards with parts of words or single letters written on them

Pass out index cards with parts of words or single letters written on them. Include lots of diphthong cards. Pass out a pencil and one card to each child. Allow students to freely move around the room to mingle with each other. The objective is for each student to make as many words as possible by combining letters with the other children. For example, a student with OI can team up with L to make OIL; these two students can then team up with B to make BOIL. Ask students to write down their words on the back of the index card or on a separate sheet of paper. For smaller groups, you may want to give each student more than one card.

Fill in the Blanks

Filling in the blanks with dipthongs
Filling in the blanks with dipthongs

Prepare a handout of a simple story; this will be the teacher's copy. Prepare a student version of the handout by removing all the diphthongs and replacing them with blank spaces. Give each student his own copy of the handout. Ask students to fill in the blanks as you read the story to them out loud. You may also pause at certain spots in the story to ask someone to volunteer a word that might fit.