AU and AW words can be tricky to learn for spelling and reading. With practice in looking at phonics patterns, your students will gradually develop a sound understanding of how spelling works with diphthongs and vowel teams! Here are some handy phonics strategies they could apply when working with these letter pairs.
Teaching spelling generalizations with au and aw words can be a challenging process partly because they have the same sound and also because regional dialects have strong influences on certain phonemes.
For example, in some American accents the /ȯ/ sound – found in a word such as “saw”. It is distinct from the short o sound; while in other dialects and accents, the sound is barely distinguishable from the short <o>. Students must be taught to recognize these sounds according to their dialect and accent!
At the point your students are introduced to au and aw words such as <AU> in August and <AW>, as in saw; they’ll have already had some practice with spelling generalizations and spelling rules with vowel teams for example ai/ay, ee, ea/ey, oa/oe, ou/ow and oi/oy. So with these lessons encourage children to be looking for patterns in how these words are spelled.
AU is found at the beginning or in the middle of a syllable never at the end. AW is found at the beginning middle and end of a word.
Some au and aw words that follow this spelling generalization include:
daub aunt haul fault August
paw law draw flaw jaw
When doing orthographic mapping or dictation, it is helpful to utilize words carefully, making sure that the “aw” sound is placed at the end of each syllable. To ensure accuracy and fluidity, keep this in mind during your writing process.
PART TWO Spelling Rule for Vowel Teams AU and AW Words
To address the /ȯ/ sound followed by an <n> or <l>, there is a key secret that unlocks successful spelling! Think of these pairings as families. Following part two of this rule will ensure consistent and accurate spellings with <au> and <aw> words. <aw> in the middle it is usually followed by just <L> or<N> Use of this phrase helps students remember this pattern.
Some words that follow this generalization include
bawl crawl shawl dawn yawn lawn
Helpful Spelling generalizations and patterns for aw au words
The only other spellings with <au> and <aw> words that you will find in commonly used words with <aw> in the middle of a word is in that middle spelling the diphthong <aw> is almost always found directly before the letters <l> or<n> in word-final position. Examples would be (shawl, bawl, lawn, pawn and yawn)
The diphthong <au> is also followed by the letters <l> or<n> but usually the <l> or<n> is also followed by an additional consonant. Examples would be (haunt, gaunt, vault, and laundry.) <AU> and <AW> are less commonly found ar the beginning of words.
Helpful Tips And Activities
Questions can Guide Students Spelling Choices
Teach kids to ask helpful questions in this sequence to guide their spelling with au/aw.
- What’s the base word of the /aw/ word?
- Where n do they hear the / ȯ/ sound in the au or aw word?
- what letter or letters comes after the / ȯ/ sound?
Teach Carefully and Systematically with au/aw
Whether you are working one on one or working in small groups systematic teaching is important.
- At first only spell with the /AW/ sound in the final position- let students sort groups of words to get fluency with the concept of no <u> at the end of a word.
- Then spell words with the word families <awn> and <awl>
- Help children recognize the difference with a phonics sorting activity
Phonics Games for teaching AU and AW
Teach these sounds using a word list with our interactive game worksheets! I created them to be one-page, no-prep resources so students can practice with the different ways to spell au and aw words while having fun. For every correct word they get the reward of a dice roll – the winner is whoever reaches between 20-50 points first! Leave a comment below to let me know which games are most helpful!
Use Decodable Texts with au/aw
Utilizing decodable texts in your classroom, you can promote both enhanced fluency for readers and correct spelling for writing. Have students highlight syllables in a variety of colors while reading stories. As students read, write and spell during their fun Science of Reading lesson they will gain skills with literacy.
Orthographic mapping and dictation
Use my free Orthographic Mapping template to help teach tricky sounds and essential sound symbol mapping as words are mapped and spelled. Ask them to practice words that contain the sound /aw/ such as “draw”, “paw” or “claw” before introducing more complex words such as “dawn” and, haunt. After working on words make sure to have students write a phrase or sentences to extend learning.
Please leave a comment or feedback below to let me know if any of the tips in this article are helpful. Please let me know If you need any support!
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