One of the most difficult things about the English language is the fact that almost every spelling or pronunciation rule has as many exceptions as it does words that follow that rule…and short oo words are no different.
If you are trying to teach young students (or individuals whose native language is not English), you know the struggle. And naturally, oo words fall into this category as there are short oo words and long oo words.
However, I am happy to report that even thought there are two different sound variations, there aren’t a ton of exceptions.
So before we dive headfirst into short oo words, let’s look at the difference between the long sound and the short sound.
The Different oo Sounds
Long oo words
The long oo sound can be found in words like “moon” and “spoon.” I like to tell my students that this is the sound a monkey makes!
(And trust me when I tell you they immediately know how to make that sound.) So this is a great way to teach them this particular group of words.
There are lots of words that have this sound including zoom, loom, doom, room, bloom, root, boot, loot, troop, scoop, snoop, loop, coop, hoop, school, fool, pool, cool, and tool…to name a few.
If you want to give students a “rule” (or at least some loose guidelines), words that contain the letter group ood, oom, ool, oop, and oot tend to make the long /oo/ sound.
Open syllable words that end with oo also make the long oo sound. Words that follow this rule include boo, zoo, goo, moo, yoohoo, and poo.
I would probably try to avoid that last one, but as soon as kids figure it out…that will be their favorite one to say. (Consider yourself warned!)
The only exception I can think of for this particular rule are the words “foot” and “soot.” Even though it is spelled with the /oot/, it doesn’t follow the long oo sound rule.
Short oo words
The short oo sound can be found in the word book and the word good. While this isn’t truly a short u sound, it tends to sound quite similar to the short u.
Words with the short oo sound include…
As you can see, the letter group ook and the letter group ood tend to fall into this group with the only exceptions I can think of at the moment being “spook, food, mood.”
These exception words don’t follow the short vowel pattern, they contain the long oo vowel sound.
Activities to Teach Short oo words
As a teacher, you know the best way to get students to practice sight words, words with different spellings, and words with different sounds is through activities and games.
So I have 9 activities and games that you can incorporate into your literacy block to encourage your students to practice the short oo words.
But you know I am not just going to tell you about activities without creating an OO Word Activity Bundle just for you!
This bundle includes flashcards, a Word Sort (with an answer key), a Word Search (with an answer key), a BINGO game, a Memory Game, a Read-Write-Draw activity, and Word Puzzles.
You can click the image above (or click here) to be taken directly to the activity bundle!
Give students the Word Sort sheet and have them sort all of the oo words into short vowels or long vowels. This activity will help them review the different sounds and learn to trust what they hear as opposed to just what they see.
This classic game is always a winner with young students. Simply have students spread out the words cards face down and then take turns selecting two cards.
If the same word is revealed on both cards, the student has to read the word correctly before adding those cards to his/her stack.
For a unique twist on this classic game, create pairs or matches with one picture card and the word the picture represents.
So for example, there would be a picture card with an image of a hook and then a card with the word “hook” spelled out.
The child whose turn it is would flip over the picture and attempt to find the matching word. Of course the student has to say the name of the picture and words to the word correctly before adding it to his or her pile.
Use short “oo” words in rhyming activities. Present a word and ask the children to come up with as many rhyming words as they can.
Remember the goal of this particular activity is just to develop rhyming skills and the ability to hear the different sounds within a word.
So words that don’t follow the short oo spelling rule or those that are simply nonsense words are completely acceptable in this game!
Provide a few short “oo” words and ask the children to use them to create a short story or sentence.
If you want to truly challenge your learners, ask them to write a poem using the short oo words.
For those students who rise to the occasion and actually accomplish this task, give them the opportunity to share their masterpiece with the class!
Create word puzzles with short “oo” words by writing oo words onto cards and then cutting the words into pieces.
To save yourself time, you can grab the activity bundle and simply cut out the word puzzles that have already been created.
This activity would be be best completed in partners. Hand the partners a ziploc bag with all of the puzzle pieces and then let them put together the pieces to form words.
As they form a new word, each partner has to say the word aloud before writing the word on their word puzzle recording sheet.
Hand out the short oo Word Search from the activity bundle. Provide students with ample time to find all of the words and circle them on the sheet.
If you know some students will struggle with this activity consider pairing up two students and allow them to work together.
Print out the Bingo cards in the activity bundle and pass one out to each student. Have students put one Bingo chip on the free space in the center of the card.
Designate yourself or a specific student as the caller. Make sure all of the caller cards are mixed up and the Bingo mat is within arms reach.
Flip over one card, read the word, and have students find that particular word on their individual cards.
If the word is on their card, they cover it with a Bingo chip, but if it isn’t, they simply wait for the next word.
Once an entire line has been covered, the student yells Bingo. Have him or her read each word that was covered and see if all of the words were called.
If so, the student wins. If not, the game continues.
Prepare a set of short /oo/ flashcards (or print the ones in the activity bundle). Hide them around the room and have the children find them.
As they find a card, they have to read the word aloud and then write it down on their recording sheet.
Interactive Apps and Games
As always, you can find several great educational websites, apps, and online games that are designed to help students with phonics, spelling, and word recognition.
Consider looking into IXL, Homer, Khan Academy, PBS Kids, and Reading Eggs. These programs have a proven track record of getting results.
And these fantastic websites and educational apps will be the perfect option to share with parents because students will be excited about playing games on their mobile device!
Remember to keep the activities interactive and engaging to maintain your students’ interest while they learn and practice these words.
This will help your students develop a love of learning and be excited to come to school each day.