Teach Phonics with Summer Poems

I live in a wonderful little coastal town in North County San Diego and it’s nice to be able to get some fresh air at the beach when it’s a bit less crowded on a week day.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is hang out under our canopy and watch the surfers.

Recently, they provided the perfect inspiration for me to write a phonics poem targeting the /ur/ r-controlled vowel (also called Bossy R). This poem will soon be included in an existing collection of phonics poems I’m expanding.

As I’ve said many times before, when instructional time is short, a poem makes a fantastic mentor text that allows you to cover all five components of reading in a quick language arts mini-lesson.

Here’s my brand new surfer inspired phonics poem targeting the r-controlled vowel /ur/.

This poem is ideal for second or third grade. There are definitely some meatier words included to really stretch students’ vocabulary.

A Surfer /ur/

Lurching on a sturdy board

a surfer must be brave,

to burst aloft and surf atop

an urgent curling wave.

-Lorrie L. Birchall

image of surfer poem

Sometimes surfers unfortunately have to contend with a pesky shark, so I decided that would make an interesting subject for the r-controlled vowel /ar/.

Carl the Shark /ar/

I’m Carl the shark,

I swim far in the dark,

looking for things to eat.

Don’t be alarmed!

There’s no harm in my charm…

unless you become my treat!

-Lorrie L. Birchall


Charlie the Pelican

Charlie the Pelican is our unofficial mascot here at the Oceanside Pier.

image Charlie the pelican Oceanside, CA

He certainly provided me with lots of inspiration for “The Pelican’s Pouch,” which I wrote as part of a collection of animal poems for K-1 (that I’m really, really hoping to finish soon).

Although I developed this poem for a completely different age group and curriculum focus (vertebrates & invertebrates), the poem does happen to contain words with r-controlled vowels: one word with /er/ and two with /or/, so it could certainly be used as a mentor text for teaching a mini-lesson targeting r-controlled vowels.

This very same four line rhyme can also be used to target the teaching of the -ish word family or even high frequency words, etc. Poems can multi-task like nobody’s business!

So even a really short little poem can be used to teach everything from language arts skills to science content! Stay open to the possibilities!

Ah, the power of a poem!

The Pelican’s Pouch

Do the other

seabirds wish,

for a pouch

to catch more fish?

-Lorrie L. Birchall

Teachers and parents have my permission to use these poems with their own students, but the poems may not be sold, posted on a website, or published without the permission of the author. (Yup, that’s me.)

Please follow and like us: