Short and Long Vowel Lesson Plan

Teacher and students learning alphabet with digital tablets
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Often times students have a hard time differentiating short vowels from long vowels, and there are certain things teachers can do to help them master this skill. A solid lesson plan to teach this topic is an important first step, and this one might be exactly what you need. This vowels lesson plan is designed to help students recognize and remember vowels, as well as be able to produce the sounds of both a short vowel and a long vowel.


  • Songs for teaching grammar
  • Letter cards for teaching vowels

Learning the Differences

The first step to mastering the vowel sounds is to understand the difference between both short and long vowels. Long vowels are the easiest of the two for students to learn because they have the same sound as their name. For example, the long o sounds like the o in the word ocean, and the long a sounds like the a in the word acorn.

Short vowels are much more challenging for students to understand because they sound very similar to one another. For example, the short i in the word big sounds very similar to the short e in the word beg, and the short o in the word cop sounds similar to the short u in the word cup. Children need to be able to recognize and produce these sounds before they are able to learn the rules for reading and spelling them.

Short Vowels:

Short vowels have a curved symbol above them ă, ĕ, ĭ, ŏ, ŭ. Here are a few examples of a short vowel: bun, bop, bed, bin, bat.

Long Vowels:

Long vowels have a straight line above them ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. Here are a few examples of a long vowel: face, even, lie, toe, use.

Procedure for Lesson

Follow this procedure to ensure students understand how to recognize and pronounce each vowel in the alphabet.

  1. Review the letter names a, e, i, o, and u. Discuss that the letter "y" is sometimes used as a vowel. This might be confusing for students to understand at first.
  2. Display each vowel letter card and ask students what vowel they hear when you say the following words: baby, beef, ride, rose, unicorn. Explain to students that it is easy to hear the vowels in the words that say their name, these vowels are the long vowels.
  3. Call upon students to come up and take turns drawing a straight line over each vowel that you go over together. For example, write the letter "a" on the board and call upon a student to draw a straight line over the "a" and say, "A long a sounds like the word ape. Do this for each vowel.
  4. Teach students the long vowel song to help them remember. Often using creative learning experiences, like song, can better engage students in the lesson and help them retain the information more easily and for longer periods of time. 
  5. Next, go over short vowels. Display each letter card on the board and explain that sometimes vowels don't say their name and have a different sound. Ask students what vowel they hear when you say the following: apple, bed, pig, frog, bug.
  6. Call upon students to come up and take turns drawing a curved line over each vowel that you go over together. For example, write the letter "a" on the board and call upon a student to draw a curved line over the "a" and say " A short vowel sounds like ah in alligator." Continue to do this for each vowel sound.
  7. Next, teach the students the short vowel song to help them remember. You might try alternating the two songs - the short and long vowel songs - to keep students thinking and challenge them more.
  8. To help students remember short and long vowels continue to practice the songs each day until they have memorized them. If your students have an online learning portal, you might consider video taping their best performance to post. This way, you can share the film with parents, and also use it as a tool to remind students of the lyrics if they start to forget. 

Edited by Stacy Jagodowski