3 Ideas for Introducing Vowels to Early Learners

Providing students with  vowel practice will pay back in huge ways with decoding automaticity. Here are 3 ideas for Vowel Introduction.
In the last five years I discovered the true value of vowels. I have come to realize vowels rule the world. If we want to produce great decoders, vowels are the key. It all started with one student (we'll call her Calista). Calista was a student who struggled with fluency because she struggled with quick word recognition. She could read a word easily and one page and then struggle with the same word on another page. One thing we discovered while working together, if she understood the word, she could retrieve it easier.

This first step was understanding the word. We discussed word parts and I quickly realized vowels were the most important word part.

Here are some ideas for making sure vowels are important from the beginning.

Identify Vowels

Providing students with  vowel practice will pay back in huge ways with decoding automaticity. Here are 3 ideas for Vowel Introduction.
From the earliest introduction to letters, students need to be aware of consonants v vowels. Sorting letters on a simple poster, allows students to choose, think, and write each letter appropriately. Having a bag or  bucket of magnetic letters easily accessible makes this lesson go easily. Choose a letter and name it. Think about where to write it (and how to write it). Then write the letter. I made a special spot for "y" on the chart. Sometimes students can recite "a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y," but don't know why they say this. By putting the "y" in a box straddling the categories opens the door for discussion. We also had letter flashcards for quick identifying drills. Students don't have to name the letter, they have to identify it as a  consonant or vowel. We also used paint daubers for identifying the vowels. This is step one for the activity, but it needs time to dry, right? 

Sort Words by Vowels

Providing students with  vowel practice will pay back in huge ways with decoding automaticity. Here are 3 ideas for Vowel Introduction.
Once students have played with identifying consonants v vowels, we move to sorting words by vowels. Our first vowel lesson is Long or Short.
 We introduce the students to the generalization that one vowel in a single-syllable word is mostly short and two vowels in a single-syllable word mostly long. We are not using open syllable words like go and be in the sort, that's a different lesson. Students are not going to read the words, students are simply sorting the words as "long" or "short" by the number of vowels. This gives automaticity training for students. Students are able to quickly identify and count vowels and determine a great starting point for decoding. We created Boom Decks at our school for quick whole group lessons that simply ask "long or short." The students can also use the dauber-marked sheets to sort the same. 

Roll, Create, and Decide

Finally, playing with creating words with short vowels can be an independent center or a small group activity. The mat is taped to the wall or put on the floor. Students have post-it notes and a vowel die with each of the five vowels and a smiley face on one side. The smiley face can be made into any vowel. Students will roll the die and find a word for the vowel. They write the vowel on the post it note, and write their word on a recording sheet. If they roll a dice and none of the available words make sense, that word should be put in the nonsense word column. At the end of the center, students can remove the post-it notes and let the next group have fun. For extra holiday fun the smiley face can be a turkey, heart, shamrock or easter egg. Students can also use the charts as a 8 1/2 by 11. They could roll "regular" die with 1=a, 2=e, 3=i, 4=o, 5=u, and 6=smiley face.

If you would like a few sample pages of the Roll, Create, and Decide Game, click the link.



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