The English language is made up of 26 letters, yet there are an estimated 44 sounds heard in the language. This is in part due to vowels, those letters that must be present in a word and can make either a short or a long sound. When teaching short vowel sounds: /a/ as in "ran," /e/ as in "bed," /i/ as in "wind," /o/ as in "jog" and /u/ as in "under," use engaging activities that capture students' attention and allow them to hear the sounds that these short vowel sounds make.
Sing a song to encourage the recognition of short vowel sounds. The lyrics to this song are sung to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus." "The "a" in "apple" says /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/ /a/, /a/, /a/. The "e" in "elephant" says /e/, /e/, /e/ /e/, /e/, /e/, /e/, /e// /e/. The "i" in "ink" says /i/, /i/, /i/, /i/, /i/, /i/, /i/, /i/, /i/. The "o" in "octopus" says /o/, /o/, /o/, /o/, /o/, /o/, /o/, /o/, /o/. The "u" in "umbrella" says /u/, /u/, /u/, /u/, /u/, /u/, /u/, /u/, /u/. Repeat the verses over and over with your students. The repetition and catchy tune will help students retain the sounds the short vowels make.
Invite students to sort through pictures of words that contain short vowel sounds. Print out pictures of items that contain short vowel sounds: an alligator, a cat, a dog and an ostrich, for example. Encourage students to say the names of the pictures aloud and have them place the pictures that contain the same short vowel sound together. For example, the picture of the alligator and the cat should be grouped together and the picture of the dog and the ostrich should be grouped together.
Play a game that requires students to identify the vowel that makes the short vowel sound. Invite two students to stand at the front of the classroom. State a word that contains a short vowel sound, "tap" for example. The first student to identify that the letter "a" makes the short vowel sound in the given word remains standing, while the other student sits down. A new student takes the place of the student who sat down, and you state a new word that contains a short vowel sound. The game continues being played in this manner until all students have had a turn.
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