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Most Kindergarten teachers begin to teach vowels right away with their phonics programs. Once the students have begun to understand consonant and short vowel sounds, teachers can begin this vowel activity, song and game.
Tell the students that in addition to the consonants that they have been learning, there are 5 vowels that have special sounds, sometimes even more than one sound. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes, y. Today we will focus on the vowels, a, e, i, o, and u.
Ahead of time, write the vowel song on chart paper. This is a song that I have created, although there are many vowel songs on the Internet to choose from.
Introduce the Vowel Song (to the tune of BINGO), by Laurie Patsalides
There are some letters I love to sing
and vowels are their name-o
a, e, i, o, u
a, e, i, o, u
a, e, i, o, u
and vowels are their name-o.
(Just as in the BINGO song, clap as each vowel becomes silent).
This song can also be reinforced later in the year when students begin to recognize that sometimes vowels are silent. Remind the students of this song.
Teach the students that when they sing this vowel song, they are singing the long vowels (they say their name a, e, i, o, and u).
Once the students have understood what the vowels are, then you can introduce the same song using the short sounds of the vowel letters (a, e, i, o, and u). Sing the song the same way as before, only use the short vowel sounds in place of saying the letters. Students enjoy this part, because it's almost like a tongue twister to them.
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Play the Vowel Game with the Song
How to Make the Cards for the Vowel Game:
Take an index card (or sentence strip) and print the 5 vowels (in lowercase) on them, and cut them apart so that each student has the 5 vowels.
Provide one small plastic bag with the 5 vowels in it for each student.
How to Play the Game:
Seated in a circle, students place their cards face up in front of them on the floor. Sing the vowel song once again. As the letter becomes silent, the student turns that vowel card over. For example, _, e, i, o, u (the student flips the "a" over.) Continue singing the song until all cards have been flipped over.
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Missing Vowel Exercise
Once the students are comfortable in knowing the vowels and their sounds, the teacher can introduce short words with short vowels in them. Create some cards with short words on them, for example c_t (cat), d_g (dog), r_d (red), and so on. Use a short vowel word list with pictures as a guide. I like to include a picture on the back of the card for picture support and self correction. Students practice by placing the correct missing vowel on the card from their vowel bag.
Students will certainly enjoy this hands-on method of teaching the vowels. The games can be adapted to several grade levels. Before you know it, the abstract concept of learning vowels and the vowel sounds will be mastered by your students.
This article has been written from the author's own experience. Another excellent vowel lesson, All Aboard the Phonics Train, can be found here.
Activities and Games for Teaching Vowels
For more fun lessons about vowels and syllable games, read more.