Helping children learn short vowel sounds

Children begin to read by learning to identify letters and the sounds those letters make. If you have followed some of my previous blogs, you may have noticed that I suggest introducing the letters in a particular order - namely, introducing the majority of consonant letters first and then introducing the five vowels.

I recommended teaching the majority of consonants first because those letters each have one sound. This is not true of vowels, which have a long sound (the name of the letter) and a short sound (a as in ant; e as in egg; i as in itch; o as in olive; u as in umbrella). To complicate things even more, vowel sounds are more frequently found in the middle of words, rather than at the start of words. So learning the sounds of the vowels and identifying these sounds in words can be challenging for little ones.

To make learning easier for your young child, use the Alphabet Parade worksheets to help her gain comfort with the short vowel sounds first. These worksheets will give your child practice identifying the short vowel sound in both the starting and middle positions in words, as I created one worksheet for short vowel sounds and one worksheet for long vowel sounds. For example, check out the worksheets for the letter A and you’ll find the worksheets that address the letter’s short sound and the letter’s long sound.

Reinforce identification of short vowel sounds by helping your child create her own personal “Short Vowel Book.”  Using a bold pen, label each of five sheets of construction paper with one of the vowels. Write both the uppercase and lowercase versions of the letter, such as Aa or Ee. Then ask your child to look through magazines and find pictures that demonstrate one of the short vowel sounds, such as “bat” or “cap” for the letter Aa. Direct your child to cut out the pictures she finds and paste them on the appropriate vowel page. You can display the individual sheets for visual reinforcement of short vowel sounds or staple the left edge of the pages to create a book.

When your child is comfortable identifying short vowel sounds, the Word Family Sliders are an ideal way to help her connect the short vowel to consonants, thus creating words. Learning the word family, such as _at, reinforces the short vowel sound in the middle position. Then your child can practice adding familiar consonant sounds in front of the vowel sounds to create words.

You can help your child solidify her learning by asking her to write each new word that she creates with the Word Family Slider. Ask her to write the words in a column, with each new word written under the previous word. This will give her the chance to recognize the recurring ending letter combination in each word. When the list is complete, your child has created her own variation of a Word Family Slider! Now she can read down her list of words, needing only to substitute the next initial consonant for each new word. And voila! Your child is reading and gaining confidence in her abilities.

Helping children learn the sounds each letter makes is a fun and exciting process. Before you know it, your little one will be reading to you at night!

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