Phonics Friday - The Short Vowel Edition

I know most of my Texas teacher friends started back to school this week.  If you're in the same boat, HAPPY FRIDAY TO YOU!!!!  Whether you started back this week or a few weeks ago, you've definitely earned your weekend!!!

Now let's get on with Phonics Friday, shall we?!

One of the first phonics skills I cover at the beginning of the year is vowels.  I introduce both short and long, but focus mainly on the short vowel sounds until that concept is mastered.  However, I think it's important for our kids to know BOTH sounds since they'll encounter those sounds/vowels in their reading.

When I introduce vowels, I tell my kids they're the glue that holds our words together.  I'm sure you do the same thing, too!  I found these great vowel glue bottle posters from the talented Teacher Wife about 5ish years ago and have been displaying them in my classroom ever since.  They go right in the middle of my phonics posters behind my guided reading/small group table.

   Y'all might remember this fun little song I made up  a couple of years ago.  We sing it A LOT!

While most of my short vowel instruction is done during whole group shared reading/writing experiences, I reinforce those concepts during small group and independent centers as well.  Repeated practice is so important and I want my kids to have TONS of it!!

This is a short/long vowel activity I created with small group in mind.  I like to introduce and play games with my kids in a small group setting before placing it in their independent centers.  I want them to be SUCCESSFUL when they're working alone or with a partner and in order to achieve that I need to give them direct, explicit instruction first.
 I have spinners or short vowels, spinners for long vowels, and then combined spinners (as pictured below) for both vowel sounds.  For the combined vowel sounds, I'll spin the spinner and then we identify the vowel sound...long or short...then the kids search their game boards to find a picture that has the matching vowel sound and cover it with their counter.  The first player to cover X amount of pictures first, wins.  

This is another activity I introduce in a small group setting before placing it in independent centers.  The idea for this activity is to have kids build a pyramid of vowel sounds starting from the bottom to the top.  I have a set of short and long vowel cards.  My kids have their own "build a pyramid" game mat and a set of double sided counters (any counter will work).  Then I turn over the vowel cards, one at a time, say the word on the card and then the kids have to identify the vowel sound they hear in the middle.  This game is a little tricky because they have build the bottom row before they can move to the middle and top.  All vowel sounds have to be covered on bottom, so if I turn over a card that shows "toe", and they don't have a long o on the bottom of their pyramid, they can't cover anything up.  They have to wait 'til the next card is flipped.  The first person to build their pyramid, wins! 

Isolating the medial vowel is another important concept we review throughout the year.  
These sound isolation & identification cards are perfect for that.   They have to look at the picture and then isolate the indicated sound in the top left corner that they hear in the word.  Then they have to identify where they hear the sound in the word...beginning/middle/end.  To extend the isolation and identification piece, they build the word as well.  I set out a tray of my letter tiles OR I give them dry erase markers and a dry erase sleeve.  Just depends on the time we have and what my objective is for the day.  I always introduce the CVC cards first and then we move onto the CCVC and eventually the CVCe.  By the time we et to the more challenging skills and concepts, they're already familiar with the activity and catch on really quickly.  This makes a great warm-up and/or fast finisher/anchor activity, too.

Because it's important to give our kids as many opportunities for repeated practice as we can, I love creating puzzles for various concepts.  Kids love puzzles!  Heck...I love puzzles :)  I created these short vowel puzzles for my kids to use independently.  I introduce these during a whole group lesson first and limit the number of puzzles they can solve while working independently.  I eventually will add more and more puzzles, but I want to insure success first so the choices are limited in the beginning...especially in Kindergarten :)

Blending boxes have been a class favorite for some time and I think that's mostly because the kids love to identify and create "silly" words.  I keep a set of these short vowel blending boxes at home because my boys love them, too.  They love taking those silly words they make and then use them in random sentences.  They crack themselves up.


As a first grade teacher, we started out the year learning all about short vowels.  Most of my kids were reading at the beginning of the year and we expanded on their schema with lots of short vowel activities.  We broke those down into "chunks" and would use those as the basis for our weekly spelling tests.  

When I was planning ahead and thinking about working with my K/1 intervention kids, I wanted to have something that would be good for both ability levels.  Challenging and remedial at the same time.  I spent a little time creating these fun, hands-on activities to use with those kids to give them repeated exposure and multiple opportunities to work with those sounds.  These are just a few examples of the different ways we work with short vowels in our classroom.

These flip books make great independent centers.  I have my kids keep these flip books in a phonics pocket (just a piece of construction paper folded up and in half to create pockets).  Their phonics pockets stay in their desks/cubbies and I'll often have them grab their flip books and read through them to practice decoding words out of context.  They make a great word family resource for my kids as well.

All of the short vowel activities mentioned above can be found by clicking the pics below.

What are some fun ways you incorporate short vowel instruction in your classroom?!  I'd love to add more ideas to my ever growing files!!!!  


  1. These are really good activities. Nice post! :)
    Not very fancy

  2. Thank you for sharing such great ideas!