January 2014 Update: Scroll to the bottom of this page to see the most recent short vowel books.
Students will be ready to begin reading and writing short vowel words after mastering the skills at the Readiness Level and the Learning the Alphabet Level. On these pages, there are instructions for activities that help children learn to read and spell short vowel words. The activities described include sound blending exercises using letter cards, word building activities with small plastic letters, doing the Robot Game with cards that have words on one side and pictures on the other, and decoding (sounding out) short vowel words from the board while writing them on paper. Students can also improve their oral blending skills (putting letter sounds together) by playing the blueberry game.
There are three different short vowel booklets that can be used for decoding lessons in small groups, followed by indepedent practice.
- The first book has the vowels printed in a bright color, and the word lists are generally in rhyming order or they begin with the same sound.
- The second book is similar. It is printed in black and white, and the word lists are arranged so that rhyming words are not adjacent to each other. Each word in this book is printed twice; the first word has small arrows between the letters to remind the student to sound out the word from left to right.
- The third book is like the second book, except it is arranged so that words with the same beginning sounds are together, cab, can, cap, cat.
All of the books teach one short vowel pattern at a time, have pictures to illustrate the words, and introduce the sight words a, was, as, has, I, is, and his. Students begin reading simple, illustrated sentences as soon as they have read the first lists of words. The print each book is large, with ample space between lines, so young eyes can follow the words easily.
In the first two books, the students learn to read each set of short vowel words in three stages.
- First, they read words with continuous consonants only. These are consonants for which the sound can be held indefinitely. Some continuous consonants are m, f, and s. They can be pronounced as mmmmmmm, fffffffff, and ssssssss. Reading words with continuous consonants is easier for beginning readers because the student can hold the sounds long enough to connect them to the remaining sounds in the words. For example, the word mmmmmaaaaannnn can be pronounced slowly without a break in sound, making it easier to identify the word.
- Second, students read words with continuous consonants at the beginning, and stopped consonants at the end. A stopped consonant is a consonant that can't be held. After you pronounce it, the sound immediately disappears. Examples of stopped consonants include t, p, and g. When these letters come at the end of a word, they don't cause a problem for the student.
- Third, students read words that have stopped consonants at the beginning. These words are more difficult because it is a challenge to connect the stopped beginning sound with the vowel that follows it. When there is a break between the sounds, it is more difficult to recognize the word.
In the third book, students learn to read each set of short vowel words in two stages.
- First they read words that begin with continuous consonants.
- Next, they read words that begin with stopped consonants.
Worksheets are available which coordinate with any of the decoding booklets. Students match words with pictures, and then copy the same words under the correct pictures. They also match sentences and pictures, and do fill in the blank sentence exercises. The original short vowel workbook is still available, and also an expanded short vowel workbook with extra pages for the short o, short u, and short e words. I've also added an abbreviated short vowel workbook with only two sets of worksheets for each short vowel. The first set begins with continuous consonants, and the second set begins with stopped consonants.
Small booklets are available that introduce short vowel words and sentences in a smaller format. These booklets must be cut, folded, and stapled.
Picture/word cards with a short vowel word on one side and a picture on the other side are used to play the Robot Game and for decoding practice. A different set of word cards with the vowel printed in a bright color can be used with the picture/word cards for matching exercises.
Level 3 - Short Vowels
January 2014 - Short Vowel Books
There are four different versions shown below. All of the versions are appropriate for kindergarten or first grade students, or older students who need to study short vowel words. Each version teaches words that begin with continuous consonants first (for example f, m, s), and teaches words that begin with stopped consonants after that (for example c, b, t). Students learn a few sight words (a, I, as, has, is, his, was) and begin reading simple short vowel sentences.
The first two versions assume the students can already recognize and give the sounds for all the letters of the alphabet. They teach short a words first.
The last two versions teach the alphabet letters a few at a time while introducing new words that contain those letters. This is helpful because students study short vowel words in a way that coordinates with handwriting instruction. Students are not expected to write new words until receiving handwriting instruction for the letters that are needed. Because the letter a is one of the more difficult letters to write, these books teach short i, short u, and short o words before teaching short a words. There is a beginning version to use with the advanced learning the alphabet books and an expanded version to use at the first grade level.
See below for the newest short vowel materials.