Use visual aids: Teach the sounds of the short vowels using pictures that represent each word, such as a cat for "cat," or a hat for "hat." This can help children see the connection between the word and its sound when learners are lacking enough reading vocabulary to read sentences.
Practice through repetition: Repetition is key when it comes to teaching new concepts. Have the children practice reading and saying short vowel words in isolation, as well as in sentences, until they are comfortable with them.
Reading words in isolation (presenting one word at a time) or in lists helps build the repetition needed to master words.
Our reading books feature list of words used in the books to practice in isolation, but the stories themselves that use the words in sentences help students associate meaning with the words and how they are used, so both reading words in and out of context are important.
Make it fun: Engage children in fun activities such as short vowel word scavenger hunts, short vowel bingo, or short vowel word puzzles to help them learn and remember the sounds. Using games and other interactive activities can make the learning process enjoyable for the children and increase their motivation to learn.
Check out our online games at the McRuffy Playground for games that support every week of the Kindergarten SE Curriculum.
Use multisensory methods: Children learn better when they use multiple senses. Use hands-on activities such as tracing the letters in sand, using playdough, or using magnetic letters to build words to reinforce the sounds of the short vowels.
Encourage and praise: Give positive reinforcement to children when they are able to identify and read short vowel words. Offer praise, stickers, or a special activity to motivate and encourage them to keep learning.
Introduce one vowel sound at a time: Focus on one vowel sound at a time, and once the children are comfortable with it, move on to the next sound. This will help them to retain the information better.
Vowels are introduced in the McRuffy curriculum in a sequence that supports words that can be used often with a large variety of words so learners are actually learning to use phonics rather than a certain list of words. Learns are mastering the system of phonics and using that to exponentially expand their reading vocabulary.
Use rhyming words: Teach children to recognize the sounds of short vowels through the use of rhyming words. For example, "rat" rhymes with "cat" and "mat."
This can be done in what is called "onset-rime" exercises where the onset is the fist consonant and the rime is at least a vowel sound, but very often a consonant after the vowel.
In the word "cat" c is the onset and "at" is the rime. Manipulatives such as letter tiles or and erasable surface such as a dry erase board are handy for this practice. Trade c for r and read "rat". Trade m for r and read "mat".
Use songs and chants: Incorporate songs and chants that focus on the sounds of the short vowels. These can help children remember the sounds and associate them with a fun and memorable experience.
Have children make up songs using familiar children's tunes.
Incorporate technology: Use technology, such as educational apps or videos, to help children learn the sounds of the short vowels in an interactive and engaging way.
Read with your child: Encourage your child to read books that contain short vowel words. Ask questions about the words they come across and help them to identify the sounds of the short vowels in the words.
Point out words within stories that they can read and have students read them or read a sentence to the children and have them point to they know or one of the words you say after reading the sentence.
Use flashcards: Create flashcards with pictures of objects that represent the sounds of the short vowels, and have children practice identifying them.
Post pictures where students can see them and periodically quiz them on the sounds. Change the pictures occassionally to help generalize the knowledge. For example instead of "ostrich" for short o, replace it with an octopus.
Use mnemonic devices: Teach children a simple mnemonic device to help them remember the sounds of the short vowels, such as "A is for Apple, E is for Elephant, I is for Insect, O is for Octopus, and U is for Umbrella."
Play word games: Play word games such as "I Spy". "I spy something that has a short o sound." or include additional clues, "I spy something (green, big, long) that has a short a sound"
Write words: Have children write short vowel words and practice sounding them out as they write.
Ask questions: Ask children questions about short vowel words they come across in their reading, such as "What vowel sound do you hear in the word 'cat'?"
Find words on things in daily life such as cereal boxes, labels, menus, newspaper ads. Have children point out words they know or challenge them to find as many words as they can that they can read. This helps develop awareness of print all around us.
Use most any board game and word flashcards. Players draw a card and read it in order to take the turn.
Read sounds in isolation and then blend them back together to build awareness of all the different sounds in the word.
If children struggle with blending the letters into words, begin with letters that are easier to sustain, the continuous sounds: f, l, m, n, r, s, v, z. Other letter sounds are less continuous, but could also be good choices: h, w, y.
The other letters can be more difficult to blend: b, d, g, k (or c with the k sound), p, t.
One tip for using "stop" consonants is instead of the "rime-onset" method discussed earlier, blend the stop sound and the vowel first: ca-t instead of the rime-onset c-at.
This helps prevent inadvertantly adding an unnecessary vowel sound (cu-a-t) which can happen in an attempt to extend the "k" sound of c in this example.
In the McRuffy curriculum we mix both conitnuous and stop sounds because a lot of the stop sounds are used in so many simple words which help achieve our goal of building a large reading vocabulary that is used in meaningful ways.
But if students are struggling with stop sound words, you may practice outside the curriculum and include continuous sounds that haven't been taught yet in order to boost the child's understanding of the process of decoding without the confusion caused if they can't clearly distinguish the sounds.
Finally, our top tip is to use a good curriculum to guide you along the way so that a variety of skills are covered in a sequential, organized way. If you look around our website, you might find just such a curriculum!