Simple, Effective Strategy for Short Vowel Practice

Posted by Brainspring on 22nd Jun 2015

Hi everyone,

Welcome to Multisensory Monday!

Ever had a student that had difficulty with short vowel sounds?

I don’t even need to wait for your answer because I know you have.  Short vowels are tricky sounds for on-level and struggling students alike.Today I have an idea for you that I use all the time.  Don’t be deceived by how simple it seems; it works!

Ask students to write dictation words in columns labeled with any or all of the short vowel sounds.  (Told you it was simple.)


Usually students should pound, fingertap* and then write the words for dictation.  For this activity they will add one small but oh so important step: pound, fingertap*, point to the proper vowel column, write the word.

VI filled in

By adding in that small step of pointing to the vowel they heard, students have to pause and give extra attention to the vowel sounds, which are the hardest sounds to distinguish in a word and can be easily confused by rushing students.  Having students point to the vowel before writing the word also gives you the opportunity to catch a vowel miscue before it even happens.  If you notice a student point to the wrong column, encourage them to pound and tap the word again, paying careful attention to the vowel sound.

Doing dictation in columns is a great time-saver too.  You get in vowel and dictation practice all in one activity!  Be sure to use this with your students and let me know what you think.


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*Fingertapping is a multisensory technique for segmenting the sounds in a word.  It assists with spelling because students must first isolate the sounds in a word and then attach the appropriate letters to write it out.  Many Orton-Gillingham based programs include some type of fingertapping strategy.  If you are interested in learning fingertapping and more multisensory techniques, consider looking into being trained in Phonics First.  Feel free to email me for more information.


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