How to Teach the Short-Vowel Sounds

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5 Activities to Help You Teach the Short-Vowel Sounds

When you are teaching your students the sounds for the short-vowels start with either the alphabet song or the letter sound song. I’ve included a letter sound song in this routine. You’ll also want to include letter formation or handwriting practice to help kids memorize the short-vowel sounds.

In the Viva Phonics curriculum, we teach one vowel and a few consonants at a time. We do this so we can jump right into reading. Perhaps your student is a struggling reader and needs a short-vowel sound review. You may even teach all letter sounds before moving into reading – whatever the case, this short-vowel sound routine can help!

We also focus first on lowercase letters. Writing is mostly written in lowercase letters and this helps kids jump into reading words faster. We will continue to expose students to capital letters throughout the program.

Take your time going through each step. This process of memorizing the sound symbol relationships is going to take some time.

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1. Play the Letter Sound Song

2. Teach the Focus Sounds

I encourage you to implement phonemic awareness activities before beginning this lesson. Then play the letter sound song and encourage your students to sing along. After that, move into the focus short-vowel sounds. When using the short-vowel sounds video to teach, follow this routine: 1. Play the video with audio. 2. Instruct students to listen and repeat. 3. Restart the video from the beginning and mute the audio. 4. Instruct the students to say the sounds as you move through the mnemonic letters and letters without mnemonic support. Provide support as needed.

3. Practice Letter Formation

Model how to write each letter first.
Follow the I do, We do, You do model.

I do
a spells /a/
Watch me write the letter a.
Model letter formation as the student observes.

We do
Let’s try it together. 
Write the letter and instruct the student to write the letter along with you.


You do
Are you ready to try writing?
Write the letter that spells /a/

Follow routine for each letter: a, o, i, u, e

“Write the letter that spells /a/”
“Write the letter that spells /o/”
“Write the letter that spells /i/”
“Write the letter that spells /u/”
“Write the letter that spells /e/”


4. Review Mnemonic Cards

5. Review Without Mnemonic Support

Use the letters with the mnemonics to do a quick letter sound check.

What’s the sound for this letter?

If the student cannot recall the letter sounds with mnemonic support, they may not be ready to recall the short-vowels sounds with text only. If your student can tell you the correct short-vowel sounds, then cover the mnemonic cards and ask them for the sounds without picture support. It’s going to take a few days or weeks to get it done. Repeat the steps as often as necessary. Be patient and keep practicing!