A Beginning with Short Vowels
So I am sure you have all read our post, Teacher Mama: A Phonics Primer, and are eady for some concrete, hands-on activities that you can do with your child at home. So here we go!
Let’s start with the basics:
- There are 5 vowels– a, e, i, o and u (and sometimes y).
- Each vowel has two sounds- a long sound and a short sound.
- The long sound is basically the same as the sound of the letter itself.
- The short vowel sounds are not as straight forward or as easy to remember.
So, what sounds DO the short vowels make?
- Short a sounds like the “a” in alligator.
- Short e sounds like the “e” in elephant.
- Short i sounds like the “i” in iguana.
- Short u sounds like the “u” in umbrella.
- Short o sounds like the “o” in octopus.
Short Vowel Activities
The Mysteriously Appearing Vowels
The first thing I did with my son was a sort of teaser. I knew that he knew all the letters of the alphabet and also knew that he did not yet know which ones were vowels. So, I cut out the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and hung them on his wall. I did not say anything to him about it. They just “appeared” one day while he was at school.
Of course, this new wall decoration became quite the topic of conversation. “Why are those letters on my wall? Why are they so big?” And my favorite, “What do those letters spell?” (Yes, he did try to sound them out).
So a few days later, after the curiosity was nearly killing him, he asked again. “What are those letters for?” This time, I did not disappoint him. I told him that these letters- a, e, i, o and u- are very special letters. These letters are called vowels and vowels are letters that have two different sounds. And, these letters appear in almost every word you will ever read or write. He seemed satisfied with that answer and we left it at that for another day or so.
Short Vowel Friends
The next step was getting him to learn the vowels’ sounds. I knew I could drill him til the cows came home and he may or may not remember them. I also knew that if I gave him some sort of visual to go with each letter, he would remember them more easily. So, using more free clipart, I selected 5 different animals- one for each vowel. I found, enlarged and printed an alligator, an iguana, an octopus, an elephant and an umbrella (Yes, I know this an umbrella is not an animal, but “u” is a hard one!). I colored them in, printed their names and hung them with their “vowel friend” on the wall. Again, I didn’t say anything to him about these new characters who showed up on his wall while he was out. I waited for him to ask. When he did, I “introduced” him to each one of the vowel friends and shared a little about them. For example:
This is Allie the Alligator. He loves anything that begins with the short a sound (insert sound here). He likes apples, (other) alligators and apricots.
This was a big hit! Now, when we are decoding a word or when we are writing and he gets stuck on the sound of a short vowel, I say, “Hey this is the one that Allie makes!” and he immediately remembers the sound- well, most of the time. Sometimes we have to look at our vowel friends on the wall and be reminded. 🙂
Short Vowel Magazine Hunt
After reminding my son about the sounds the short vowels make, we started looking through magazines to see what we could “feed” our friends. We found an apple for Allie the Alligator, an Ugg boot (hey, we are living in Australia after all) for Uggie the Umbrella, a igloo for Iggie the Iguana, an egg for Eddie the Elephant and olive for Ollie the Octopus.
You can also:
- Collect things around the house that each friend “likes.”
- As you are walking or driving around point out things that each friend likes.
- Use some old phonics workbooks and cut out pictures of things that each friend “likes.”
- If you child is ready, you can find things that not only start with the short vowel sound, but have it elsewhere in the word. For example– for the short e, you may find an elephant (short sound at the start of the word) or bed (short sound in the word).
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