Decoding words with short vowels is the foundation for all other reading that students will do in their lifetime. Fluency, vocabulary expansion, and comprehension all come after a student can break an unfamiliar word into familiar sounds. In primary reading instruction, we begin decoding with CVC words. A CVC word is a consonant, a short vowel, and a final consonant. Words like cat, hit, bug, etc. are CVC words, and are the first words students are asked to decode.
Because this skill is so critical, it’s essential that teachers have a variety of decoding teaching tools in their toolbox! Today, I have five different ways that you can engage students in short vowel practice. These activities will build fluency with short vowel sounds, and CVC words. This fluency will serve students very well as they move into more complex reading later on!
Building words with a variety of materials is a great way to work tactile learning into the classroom! Use magnetic letters, letter tiles, beads, blocks, or any other letter manipulatives you have on hand. Simply give students a stack of short vowel words, and have students build, decode, and read the word. To extend this activity, ask students to sort words in a written list by short vowel sound!
Sand, Shaving Cream, Etc.
Sensory work is also important in the primary classroom. Materials like sand, shaving cream, water, etc. give students the opportunity to engage with letters and sounds in a way that awakens several sense at once! Use these materials and have students trace short vowel words or letters with their fingers!
Create Short Vowel Word Families
Helping students to see how CVC words are related to each other, based on the short vowel sound in the word, is a great way to build phonemic awareness skills. Give students a starting word (ie: cat) and have them generate a list. Repeat this on a regular basis to help students hear rhyme and patterns in their CVC words.
Speed fluency practice should not be a cornerstone of literacy instruction, but as students strengthen decoding skills, this is a great exercise to help them build confidence in how quickly their brains can read sounds. Create brief lists of CVC words, and ask students to read them as quickly as possible. This solidifies their decoding skills, and aids in getting students ready to read passages!
Short Vowel Passages
As always, we want students to practice skills in isolation, but then we want to help them apply those skills in context. Short Vowel Passages are a great way to do that! Short vowel passages focus on one short vowel sound, repeated in a variety of words throughout one short passage. In my short vowel passage sets, there are five passages for each of the 5 short vowel sounds! Having students read the words in context helps you see how they do with decoding in a text, and gives you a sense of which sounds they are still struggling with.
Outside of short vowel passages, I also have a growing bundle of phonics passages! Grab the growing bundle now to have all of the phonics reading you’ll need for the school year! Read more about the phonics passages bundle in THIS blog post!