Vowel Teams

A vowel team is when you have two vowels that work together to make one sound. Think about words like rain, play, boil, sound, and goat.

What is a Vowel Team?

A vowel team is a spelling pattern that uses two or more letters to represent a single vowel sound.

Often, the vowel sound for a vowel team is long (like the long e in “neat”), but sometimes vowels work together to make other sounds (like the short e in “bread”). In this post, we’re going to focus mostly on the long sounds – but I do also teach students about words where vowel teams do not make long vowel sounds.

Long a vowel teams include: ai, ay, eigh, ey (examples: paid, say, neigh, they)

I typically only teach ai and ay in 1st and 2nd grade, but I point out eigh or ey when they appear in the context of a text or word we’re studying.

Long e vowel teams include: ea, ee, ey, ie, ei (examples: seat, feet, key, thief, receive)

I typically only teach ea, ee, and ie in 1st and 2nd grade.

Long i vowel teams include: ie, igh (examples: pie, right).

Long o vowel teams include: oe, oa, ow (examples: toe, boat, blow)

Long u vowel teams include: ue, eu, ew (examples: argue, feud, pew)

One tricky thing about long u is that the sound can be the name of the letter (as in the word “few”) OR the /oo/ sound (as in the word “tube”).

Sometimes vowel teams are also called “vowel digraphs.” I prefer the term “vowel team” because digraph = 2 letters, and some vowel teams (like igh) include more than one letter.