Vowel intensives are quick, short activities that help students practice differentiating between vowel sounds. Vowels are the most elusive sounds in the English language so it is important to practice often. Here’s a fun way to change up your normal routine.
Once your students are fairly comfortable listening for short vowel sounds, you can try the Vowel Pie game to provide practice listening for all the short vowel sounds. I created a portable version of the vowel pie circle using four sheets of computer paper. Lay the papers out to make a larger rectangle (see photograph) and draw a circle that fills up all four pages. Divide roughly into five sections and label with the vowels. For a splash of color get your students involved! Have small groups of students color the sections before playing the game for the first time. When playing the game with students lay the four pages down on the floor, matching up the colors. There’s no need to tape them together or to the floor. After playing the game, simply stack and store in a folder.
Have a student reader read for the whole class or have one student in each group read for that group. Include words that have the short vowel sounds. Students take turns identifying the sounds they hear and dropping or tossing an object onto the correct section of the vowel pie.
You can change this game simply by changing up the dropped object. Use a bouncy ball and have the student bounce the ball and then catch it (Pie Bounce). Have them stand a little ways back and try to toss a beanbag on the correct sounds (Corn Hole). You can also use normal classroom objects. Toss paper clips (Paper Clip Pie), give students turns attaching sticky notes (Sticky Pie), drop classroom dice, toss a pink eraser, etc. Give each version of the game a catchy name and watch your students giggle their way through vowel practice.
For older students, use the vowel pie to practice listening for the vowel sounds in two syllable words. All you need are two objects for dropping. For example, if the reader reads the word, “trumpet,” the listening student would drop one object on the /e/ and the second object on the /u/. This can be especially fun with words like picnic. Students think really hard and then look up with a “you were trying to trick me” smile on their face. I enjoy seeing their concentration turn to excitement. “I have to drop it on the /i/ sound two times!”
Audrey Bon, A.B.Ed.
Audrey is a tutor at Brainspring Learning Center in Plymouth.
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