I'm embarrassed to say I don't understand this 2nd grade homework. Can someone help me understand the concept behind exception sounds?

Do the "Sentence Marking" Activity

Have your child read the sentences and scoop into phrases. Highlight or box the exception sounds.

  1. Which man is the best host?
  2. Wind up the top and let it spin.
  3. Jess has a bad cold.
  4. Did you find the lost cat?
  5. Who sold the most in the class?
  6. The van hit the post with a jolt.

Q1 is completed as an example, with brackets under "Which man" and "is the best host", and ost in the last word highlighted as an exception sound.

Image of test paper

  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because "exception sounds" is not an established collocation in English (if it did mean anything it would probably refer to audible noises made by intelligent devices reporting exception = error conditions). I say this taking particular note of the preceding context, which asks that the child should scoop the text into phrases (also not something any native speaker would ever say). – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '16 at 18:03

The "exceptions" have long vowel sounds as opposed to short ones (in a closed syllable).

How do I know this? Google search reveals this pdf (don't be ashamed to cheat on your child's homework).

This seems to be a system the publishers thought up to teach kids to read. You really need to have the first page in order to help with the homework, which explains all this:

The vowel in a closed syllable usually has a short vowel sound like ŭ in the word up. However, there are five exceptions to this rule.

/īld/ as in child
/ōld/ as in cold
/ōst/ as in post
/īnd/ as in kind
/ōlt/ as in colt

They are exceptions because the vowel has a long sound (it says its name) rather than a short vowel sound.


It is referring to sounds that violate the normal rules of English pronunciation.

E.g. Lost vs Host.

Lost rhymes with cost whereas host rhymes with most.

The difference is the o in lost is soft, the o in host sounds like the letter o.

Wind is tricky, because if it's the weather, it's soft i, if it's twisting, it's hard i. In this case, hard i.

  • 1
    In my experience, the usual terminology is "long" and "short" rather than "hard" and "soft": cost has a "short o" sound, "host" has a "long o" sound, "wind" the weather has a "short i" sound, and "wind" the twisting verb has a "long i" sound. – herisson Oct 20 '16 at 21:44

Exception sounds are sounds that don't fit normal rules of English spelling. As you can imagine, there are tons of them.

In the above, "host" has an exception sound because a lone vowel surrounded by consonants should be short: that is, "host" should rhyme with "lost." But it's an exception. (So are "most" and "post.")

"Wind" should have a short i as in "win."

And so on.

I am not sure how useful this is, but I guess that's another question.

  • 1
    Would a 2nd grader grasp this? Seems strange – user1154644 Oct 20 '16 at 20:58
  • If that's what they've been taught... – Dan Oct 20 '16 at 21:59
  • And I thought inappropriately academic teaching of English to very young children was a British phenomenon. – BoldBen Nov 14 '16 at 21:57

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