Short and Long Vowel Lesson Plan

Teacher and students learning alphabet with digital tablets
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Literacy is one of the most important skills young students will ever acquire. Reading and writing permeate nearly every aspect of life both in and out of the classroom—students must be literate to succeed in school and society.

But before students can even begin to read or write, they must have strong letter-sound knowledge. They need extensive, scaffolded practice naming, identifying, and using every letter before they can begin to develop spelling and decoding skills. Vowels are often the trickiest letters to learn and take the most time.

This lesson addresses the distinct sounds that each vowel makes and differentiates between long and short vowels. It provides opportunities for your students to practice listening for and identifying vowel sounds in the world around them and even contains a helpful vowel song to aid in memorization. The following lesson takes approximately 35 minutes to teach.

Objectives

Following this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Name the five vowels.
  • Listen for long and short vowel sounds and differentiate between them.
  • Identify objects whose names contain long and short vowels (phonetically).

Materials

  • Two separate slides, one with several images of objects containing long vowel sounds and one with objects containing short vowel sounds
  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss—digital version available to borrow through Internet Archive Digital Library (create a free account to use)
  • Vowel song (to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb")
    • "Vowels can be short or long (x3). Vowels can be short or long, they're a, e, i, o, u. Long vowels like to say their name (x3). Long vowels like to say their name, listen for this now (children repeat each letter): a (ay), e (ee), i (eye), o (oh), u (yoo). Listen close for short vowels (x3). Listen close for short vowels to know which one you hear: a (æ), e (eh), i (ih), o (ah), u (uh)."
  • Graphic organizers for students, one for short vowels and one for long—both should have the five vowels written in a column on the left, each with their own row (be sure to include capital and lowercase letters)

Key Terms and Resources

  • vowels (long and short)
  • pronounce
  • consonants

Lesson Introduction

Read Hop on Pop once without stopping. Ask students what they noticed about the words in the book (answers might include rhyming, short, etc.).

Ask if there were any letter sounds that seemed more important than the rest by posing the question, "Are there any sounds that seem like they are doing most of the work in their words?" To demonstrate, change the u on page three to an a and then an o. Lead students to tell you that the letter sounds in the middle of a word decide how that word will sound.

Instruction

  1. "Vowels are very important letters because they are in every single word. They do a lot of the work in deciding how a word will be pronounced or said."
  2. "Your mouth stays mostly open when you say a vowel and your teeth/lips are mostly closed when you say all the other letters. We call letters that are not vowels consonants."
    1. Model deciding whether a is a vowel and do the same for b. Exaggerate your mouth movements and narrate your thinking for students.
  3. Explicitly teach the five vowels (do not include y), showing them what each vowel looks like as you talk. Have students trace the vowels in the air as you say them. Then have students say the vowels slowly to three different people around them while "drawing" them on the carpet with their fingers.
  4. "Vowels can make at least two different types of sounds and we call these long and short. Long vowels say their name and short vowels make only part of the sound in their names."
  5. Show long vowel slides. Point to objects one at a time and ask students to decide which long vowel they hear for each. Have a few come up and write the vowel they hear next to the objects. Students should follow along by whispering and tracing vowels.
  6. Teach students that short vowels make sounds that are similar to their names but sometimes sound similar to each other too. Explicitly teach short vowel sounds. Show short vowel slides and model listening for short a, e, i, o, and u. Then, repeat the exercise from step 5 with the remaining short vowel objects.
    1. If students need more examples, reference the actions/objects in Hop on Pop (remember to talk about letter sounds, not spelling).
  7. Sing the vowel song slowly to your students to help them remember what they've just learned. Sing this song frequently moving forward to keep important skills fresh for your students.

Activity

  1. Tell students that they are going to practice listening for vowels by hunting for them in the room. Give them each a long vowel graphic organizer.
  2. "You are going to try to find at least one thing in this room that has a long a, e, i, o and u sound in it. You will draw the object that you find for each on your paper next to the right letter." Model doing this with paper. Emphasize that students should be sketching, not drawing.
    1. Tell students that they will need to quietly say the names of objects aloud in order to hear their vowel sounds.
    2. Explain that vowels can be found at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.
  3. Give students 5-10 minutes to identify an object for each long vowel. You may choose to have them work in partnerships for additional support.
  4. Once all students are finished, have them come back to the carpet and call on a couple of volunteers to share their work with the class.
  5. Give students short vowel graphic organizers. Repeat steps 2-4 with short vowels.
  6. Conclude the lesson by explaining to students that being able to hear long and short vowels will help them to eventually read and write with vowels. They will continue to practice listening for vowel sounds before writing with them.

Differentiation

Provide students with options for the vowel identification activity. For example, help them to choose whether "table" or "clock" should be drawn next to the long a. For all students, use visuals, hand motions, and repetition often.

Assessment

Ask students to add to their vowel sheets at home, identifying a total of three objects for each long and short vowel. Give them at least one week to do this. Some students will need you to support them to do this at school rather than at home as independent practice.

Remember that students are identifying objects based on vowel sounds and not spelling. They might hear either a short e or i in carpet—these vowels can (and often do) make essentially the same sound, so either answer should be considered correct for this example. The objective of this lesson is that students be able to listen for long and short vowels. Spelling with them comes later.