A,E,I,O,U: Tips for teaching short vowels

The Question:

Amber Monson Schaefer needs some fun new ways to teach short vowel sounds to my k-kids. Pdf’s, games, websites and songs would all be welcome!

Andrea Trevethan Tudor 

We use SIPPS reading, which comes with big picture cards that I put up on the wall. Each one show a cat in relation to a chair … the “a” is “at the chair”, “e” is the “edge of the chair”, “i” is “in the chair,” “o” is “on the chair”, and “u” is “under the chair.” So when a child is sounding out a word, I will prompt “a .. a.. at the chair? or i … i … in the chair?” After some practice they begin to figure it out on their own 🙂 (Of course “e” and “i” are difficult!

Emily Ray

From Saxon… laying large consonants and vowels learned on floor…. and hopping on them to spell words. I used the Orange, “rubbery” letters bought in the good ole’ days. They came in handy for “marching around the alphabet.” Hap Palmer Days, too, we said the sound too.

Kelly Victor

Check out Dr. Jean. I just went to a conference she did she has wonderful stories and songs for vowels. Everything you need is on her site and available to print.

Also the flip chart from Scholastic works great for singing the vowels to a song they have an abc one and a phonics 1 tho my students have been taught both they benefited more from the phonics one.

Jenn Kram


Christina Mondro

Jack Hartman’s CD Shake,Rattle and Roll- Vowel Sound Samba or Dr. Jean’s Kiss Your Brain CD-Vowel Cheer.

I also practice the vowel sounds daily using hand movements: short a /a/ use arms to make an alligators mouth opening. Short e /e/ exercise your thumb and pointer finger (or make something up that works for you). Short i /i/ pretend that you are itching yourself. Short o /o/ open mouth like you are saying ahh. Short u /u/ point thumb up. We talk about them separately because they are important…they show up in every word.

Lynne Murray Smith

  I learned from a friend and use: /a/a/a/ ankle (tap ankle), /e/e/e/ elbow (tap elbow), /i/i/i/ itch (itch sides), /o/o/o/ on (tap shoulders), /u/u/u/ up (lift hands up). We recite these and also use them when sounding out words. It adds kinesthetic learning as well.

Sherri Lake Hickin

Dr. Jean’s vowel family song is awesome! Just taught it to my class today and they totally know the sounds!

Wendy Rader Lima

We have “vowel friends” (a clip art picture on a piece of paper) and was say hi to them the special way that they like to say their names. /a/ /a/ /a/ Apple Annie, /e/ /e/ /e/ Ed the Elephant, /i/ /i/ Isabella Inchworm, /o/ /o/ /o/ Ollie Octopus, /u/ /u/ /u/ Uncle Ugbee. I think they might be from Carson Dellosa, but I just search on-line for a picture that could go with the character.

Lynette Feenstra

http://www.elementarysmartboardlessons.com has lots of FREE SMART Board lessons available on a flash drive! It has files for each letter of the alphabet! It’s an invaluable resource for all SMART Board users.

Ashley Parks 

What sound does a short a make? (Children repeat) What sound does a short a make? Repeat each Twice. a, a, a! a, a, a! What sound does a short e make? (Children repeat) What sound does a short e make? e, e, e. What sound does a short I make? (Repeat) What sound does a short I make? i, i, i. What sound does a short o make? (Repeat) i, i, i. What sound does a short u make? (Repeat) u, u, u.

Just make sure to repeat each twice and let them repeat you! I do hand movements as well. You can make up your own. Be creative or whatever your kids will understand. If they forget a short vowel sound I repeat that part of the song. Ex. Pet and they don’t know “e” I say “What does a short e make? e, e, e. I have a CD from Scholastic that had this song on it! It also has a long vowel song! Awesome CD!

Nickki Del Pizzo-schreiner

  Go to You Tube – Letter a song Actually there is a song for every letter. 🙂

Alia Harland

Sing “Bingo”, but with Vowels: “The vowels of the alphabet, I know them all by name-O, A-E-I-O-U, AEIOU, AEIOU, I know they all by name-O! 🙂 And you know the rest….my kids love it and always catch on!

Shelley Griffiths

Vowel Bat video-You Tube under Harry’s kindergarten. My kids love it…I downloaded it at home and took to school since school blocks You Tube…

Megan LeDoux

  Stephen Fite does a great song called “Rock the Vowels” — goes through short and long sounds. It’s always a favorite of my kids!

Laura D’Amico 

I have this little song/chant/dance we sing with the kids; they watch, repeat me, then after awhile they can do it independently:

(reach arms up to the sky) “long a says, AAA” – “Apron!”

((crouch down and touch toes) “short a says /a/, /a/, /a/ – “Alligator!”

repeat for all vowels in order (a, e, i, o, u) . It takes only about a minute, but it’s so cute watching them recite it alone =) I hold up the big letter cards for each letter

long e – eagle

short e – egg

long i – ice cream

short i – igloo

long o – over

short o – octopus

long u – unicorn

short u – under

I switch the words as we go to get a variety of vocabulary/sounds incorporated!

Christina Mondro 

Dr. Jean vowel cheer from Kiss Your Brain CD. I review vowel sounds daily during circle/calendar time (we practice the sounds with gestures; a-alligator and make alligator mouth with arms, e-exercise and make exercise movement with arms, i-itchy and scratch ourselves, o-ahhh and open our mouths like we are at the doctors, u-up and point thumbs upward. This helps greatly and I stress how important these vowels are in learning to read and write.

Suzzanne Schueller

I found some great songs on youtube by havefunteaching. They have a song for each letter of the alphabet. My little darling love the songs. Just type the letter you are looking for and I’m sure one of their videos will come up. The vowel songs include long and short sounds.

Cindy Branam Boyer 

To the tune of Frere Jacques–A says /a/ /a/, E says /e/ /e/, I says /i/,/i/,/i/,/i/, O says /o/ /o/, U says /u/ /u/, I know my vowels, a, e, i, o, u. Also–Old McDonald had a vowel, a, e, i, o, u. And on his farm he had an a, /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ and so on.

Shelley Griffiths 

Vowel Bat song by Shari Sloane. There is a video of it on you tube my kids love…..It is to the tune of Batman music.

Jennifer Gilbert 

I have Jack Hartmann’s “Hip-Hop AlphaBop” CD, and the kids love it.


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