Adding Suffixes to Split Vowels
As you learned in Explaining Split Vowel Digraphs, a split vowel spelling is a vowel sound spelled by splitting the e off from the first vowel letter in a vowel digraph (like ie and oe) and tucking a trailing sound in between. When talking with a child, another term that can be used to refer to the class of split vowel words is to call them vowel+e (vowel plus e) words. The terms "split vowel," "vowel+e," and "a dash e" (a-e) all refer to the same concept (as do "magic-e" and "silent-e" although, as explained on the previous page, it's better to avoid that terminology.) Your child will likely be most comfortable at first with a-e, i-e, etc., then with vowel+e and finally with the term split vowel.
When a word with a split vowel spelling has a suffix added, we drop the e before adding the suffix if the suffix starts with a vowel letter. If it does not, such as the suffix ly, it is just added to the word. Don’t worry right now about explaining this, but do explain that you are going to examine what happens when "ing" is added to a word. Also, explain that an ending like "ing" is called a suffix, and that the word the suffix is added onto is called either the root word or the base word.
Note: This is one set in a series of free phonics worksheets, so if you found this page with a search engine and are looking for a logical way to explain suffixes to a child you might want to back up to the page What Are Vowel Sounds? (See the Index on the Sidebar.)
Some Prerequisites for Using These Phonics Worksheets
Adding ing - Your child should be familiar with writing the /ng/ sound as "ng" and understand that "ing" is two sounds, /i/ + /ng/.
Adding er - Your child should know that /er/ is a sound that can be spelled various ways, including the spelling "er."
Adding y - Your child should know that /ee/ is a sound that can be spelled several ways, including the spelling "y," especially at the ends of words.
If your child is not comfortable with some of these concepts, consider investigating the complete OnTrack Reading Phonics Program and using the advanced code workbook that forms the basis of the program to help instill them.
Directions for Using the Phonics Worksheets
Start with the worksheet "Adding the ing Suffix." Later, review it and then do the one "Adding the er Suffix." Then later, review both and do the worksheet "Adding the y Suffix."
When doing each worksheet, explain that the suffix is replacing the letter "e" and that the vowel sound in the first syllable (or chunk) is now spelled with just the single letter, "a," "e," "i," "o," or "u." Do this by saying each sound in the word as you point out its spelling. Then have your child read the first root word and then the same word with the suffix added. Go down the left side, reading root word then root word with suffix.
Next, tell your child that you are going to have him read the words without first seeing the root word and cover the root words on the right side of the worksheet with your hand. Have him read each of the new words with the suffixes added. Many children will suddenly experience some difficulty even though they read the words easily on the left side. This is because they were using knowledge of the root word to guide them in pronouncing the same word with suffix added. If your child struggles with a word containing the suffix, reveal the root word and have him read it, then have him try the same word again with the suffix added.
During this process point out that he has to learn to see the pattern where the suffix is now taking the place of the "e" and that the vowel sound in the first chunk stays the same as though it were a vowel+e word.
Finally, have your child read the new root words at the bottom of the worksheet and then write the word with the root attached. This is to give him practice at remembering to drop the "e" when adding that suffix to a vowel+e word.
These three worksheets pave the way for a fourth worksheet that has the purpose of helping your child realize the purpose of using a doubled consonant when spelling a word. This is a key step in teaching him an efficient way to decode unfamiliar multisyllable words using the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method.
A split vowel spelling always represents the Second Vowel Sound of the leading letter. Thus, a-e is always the /ae/ sound, o-e is always the /oe/ sound, and so on.
What about words like some, none, infinite and vaccine? In the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook, words like this are treated as though the vowel sound is just one letter and the final sound in the word is spelled as a digraph ending with the letter "e." Thus, some is some, where "me" is the /m/ sound, none has the /n/ sound spelled "ne," infinite has the /t/ sound spelled "te" and vaccine has the /n/ sound spelled "ne." In all of these cases, the vowel sound in the word is spelled by one of the options for the single vowel letter. For example, the /ee/ sound in vaccine is spelled with the Third Vowel Sound of the letter "i," as in ski.