How Do You Teach Short Vowels??

First of all, do you know how easy it is to hit the "b" when typing the word vowel?
Without editing, this whole post could have been about short bowels...Oh, my!

Let's face it! Short vowels are hard to teach and difficult to learn! What's a teacher to do?? Well, I have some questions for you. 
1) In what order do you teach the vowels?
2) How long to you spend on each vowel?
3) Do you teach vowels using word families?
4) Does that seem like a lot of questions?

I've been in education awhile, and it seems like every few years, we're told something different from the "experts" about teaching Phonics. You're thinking, "But wait, I thought we were the experts!" Ahh!

Thankfully, for first grade teachers, most students come to us knowing the sounds short vowels make. But the littles who don't-Whew! Seriously! 
How do the PreK and Kindergarten teachers do it?? Insert pat on the back here.

So, how do I teach short vowels? 

We spend about two weeks on each sound.  I teach them in this order-a, i, o, u, e. I save "e" for last. It's so similar to "i" and let's face it, we don't really use that sound much in the South...
Image from Kinderglynn

See what I mean? In the South, that rhymes.

I introduce/review the sound on Monday during Morning Meeting. If there is literature available using that sound, I use it. For instance, Joy Cowley's Dan the Flying Man is great for introducing short "a". It's available in big book format and in 6-packs with CD! They can listen all week!
Image from The Wright Group

We use large letter cards to put short "a" chunks together. For instance, the letter cards "a" and "d" make -ad. We then add a beginning sound to that chunk (-ad becomes "mad"). We make as many chunks as can brainstorm. 

We do these types of activities every morning for the two week period we cover the vowel. During the first week, I post my Read the Room cards (see below), however, the kiddos don't complete this activity until the second week. I like having the cards up for them to read that first week.

Last year, we began using Made For First Grade's Short Vowel Fun pack (see below). LOVED IT! The students complete many different activities with each short vowel-Rhyming Words, Real and Nonsense Words, Roll a Word, Word Scrambler, and more! This is an awesome resource, especially if you don't have a Phonics program. We try to complete most of the activities in this pack!

During the two week period, we complete A LOT of short "a" activities. I want these pumpkins to habituate that sound and be able to make and break words easily. This is truly the first step in seeing how words work. 

I use several activities found on TpT and TN-where else???
Here are two items I created and will use with my kiddos.
I've listed more great resources below my packs.

I created a Read and Write the Room for each short vowel (cvc pattern). All packets contain 24 cards and a choice of recording sheets. I will keep these word cards posted ont the wall for the entire two weeks we cover that vowel. You can read more about Read and Write the Room here.

I also created "I Have, Who Has" games for each short vowel. The cards and words match my Read and Write the Room packs.
We will play these games once a day during the two week period. We'll time ourselves and try to beat each day's time. The kids love this!

There are a lot of quality products out there right now that cover short vowels. 
Here are a few more I plan to use.

A freebie from Reagan-
fun little game for review!

A freebie from Christina Statzel-
cute posters to use as resources!

A freebie from Oceans of First Grade Fun-
engaging games for Word Work!

Abby's Word Work packets-I haven't bought this one yet,
but have the long vowel packs and love them!

Abby's Spelling packet-new and super cute with craftivities!
The kiddos will love that!

I know there are so many more I haven't listed!
Maybe I should make this a linky and have y'all link up and share.
 If someone will show me how to do that, I will!!

So-how do you teach short vowels?

Happy weekend, y'all!


  1. Thanks for the shout out! I just found your blog and LOVE. IT. I used to be a Reading Recovery teacher too, and I'm loving What Works for Me Wednesdays!
    Oceans of First Grade Fun

    1. You are so welcome! Love your stuff! and very glad you found my blog, too!! Reading Recovery was probably one of the best things I've ever done!! Didn't you love it?? Learned so much that I'm still using!

  2. Just dropping in for a visit. :o)

  3. Short bowel......too funny!!! Made me laugh! My precious hubby who survived colon cancer three years ago and has had 98% of his colon removed thought it was quiet humorous too. HA!!! He is now healthy and gloriously cancer free. Praise you Lord!

    1. You are right! Praise the Lord! That is wonderful! So glad I gave you a smile! I wish you both continued health!

  4. I love your ideas for teaching short vowels! I am always looking for new ways to teach vowels especially in more creative and hands on ways. So heading over ot look at your read and write the room ideas.
    Gave you an award, drop by my blog to pick it up.

    - Vicky

    1. Thanks so much for the award! I'm going over to see it! I'm glad you found some helpful ideas in this post! So glad you stopped by!

  5. Great post. Thanks for sharing your methods and all the resources!

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers

    1. Thanks, Barbara! Thanks to TpT and TN, there are tons of great resources available now! What did we do before real teachers started creating???

  6. A Short Vowel (Bowel!!) Linky would be a great idea. Hope someone can help you with this - sorry, not my forte!!!
    ✿ Judy
    teaching with J

    1. I think so, too, Judy! Just not that tech savvy...thanks for stopping by!!

  7. I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. Hop on over to pick it up! First Grade and Fearless

  8. these are great! do you have one for long vowels?

  9. How can I access your Vowel Party: I Have Who Has game? I can't find it on TpT! It is so cute!

    1. Hi, there! We love our I Have, Who Has game!!
      Here's the link: I Have, Who Has-Short Vowels
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. Hello, I am a new teacher and for me I not trying to figure out how to teach the vowels or what activities to use yet, rather I just need to know when to teach them and in what order?

    For example, I see a lot of activities require knowledge of all the short vowel sounds, but would you teach all the sounds in one day? Or do you choose one letter a day to teach ? See I am not sure how much is too much for one lesson. Should I space it out as much as one letter a week or should it be more like one letter a day?

    1. Hi, Corrine!
      Congrats on your first year! When teaching vowels, I spend two weeks on each vowel, beginning with short a-teaching all short a chunks from -at to -ack.
      The following two weeks, I teach short i and review short a. After that, I teach short o, then short u, and finally short e. I review all other vowels during those weeks.
      So basically, we spend 10 weeks on short vowels. It sounds like a long time, but I want my kiddos to know their vowels like they know their names!
      After those 10 weeks, students should be able to read 3 and 4 letter short vowel words. We then begin adding digraphs and blends.
      I begin long vowels in January.
      Does that help??
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Let me know if I can help in any way.