Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-3, students watch the BrainPOP Jr. movie Bossy R and explore related resources to learn about r-controlled vowels. Students applying what they learn by playing in game where they physically form r-controlled words.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Watch the BrainPOP Jr. Bossy R movie to learn about r-controlled vowels.
  2. Discuss words that have a bossy r.
  3. Play a game in which they physically create r-controlled words.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Letter cards (see details in Preparation)


  • Preview the movie Bossy R to plan for any adaptations
  • Cut out letter cards or write the following letters on index cards: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, k, m, n, o, p, s, t, u, w
  • Make a list of the following words on the board that you will use for the game: at, am, cat, pat, had, bid, fist, hut, ton, pot, spot, ban, skit, chip, dine, he, bust, bun, cub, cod, toe, won, gem

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Write the word “cat” on the board and say it aloud. Ask students what sound the a makes in the word cat.
  2. Now add the letter r after the a and say the new word “cart” aloud. Ask what happened to the a sound when you add r. Help them to recognize that the vowel sound has changed because of the r. We call it a “bossy r” because it changes the sound of the vowel. 
  3. Play the BrainPOP Jr. movie Bossy R on an interactive whiteboard for the whole class. Pause as needed to reinforce student understanding. 
  4. After the movie, invite a volunteer to play the part of Bossy R, and give that student the r card. Distribute the other letter cards to the rest of the students.
  5. Now point to the first word on the list on the board: at (see Preparation for the whole list). Have the two students with the letters a and t stand in front of the class and hold their letters in front of them to form the word “at” and have the rest of the class say the word “at” aloud. 
  6. Instruct the Bossy R student to say “I’m the boss!” and stand after the letter a to create the word “cart.” Ask the class to read the new word aloud and compare the vowel sound in “cart” with the vowel sound in “cat.”
  7. Continue the game with each word on the list. You can invite different students to play the part of Bossy R so that everyone gets a chance.
  8. Conclude the lesson by challenging students to the Easy or Hard Quiz to assess their understanding.