Being able to distinguish between long vowels and short vowels is super important when learning to read and write. And being able to hear the difference is a good place to start. This simple activity is designed so that kids just learning to hear the difference can use it for sorting, and children further ahead can practice their reading, too!
Does it sound like its name?
The simplest way for children to decide whether a word contains a long vowel or a short vowel (or both) is to be familiar with letter names. That is, A E I O U as a long vowel is pronounced as day, me, like, toad and you. Since this is usually one of the first things taught, via the ABC song, many children have a passing knowledge of this well before they are ready to start reading.
When they look at a picture of a tin, for example, they need to stretch out the word and say it slowly so they can really listen to the sounds they hear. Fortunately it’s easy to stretch out the vowel sounds, so when they deliberately say t—i—n they are trying to decide whether the middle sound is like the name of the letter. In this case it isn’t (since it would need to sound like ‘tine’) therefore it cannot be a long vowel.
Preparing this activity
Download this Long and Short Vowel Sort and Read at the bottom of this post. Print off the 3 pages onto card stock and assemble the parts.
- Sorting envelopes: Cut around the envelope templates, fold on the dotted lines and glue into a pocket. Use a hole punch to punch 5 holes at the bottom of the envelope – dots are marked for you. If your child is just using this activity to sort, don’t worry about the holes.
- Vowel strips: Fold the card stock in half horizontally on the dotted line, adding glue to the paper so that the vowel strips are now double-sided. Cut on the lines to separate the strips, then punch a hole on each dot.
- Attach a paper clip to each hole at the bottom of the envelopes.
Short and long vowels sort and read
Before attempting this activity talk about the differences between long and short vowel sounds. If this is new, just start with one or two vowels rather than all 5.
Have children look at the pictures, stretching out the sounds to make sure they understand the activity.
Sort the pictures into long and short vowels, slipping each vowel strip into a storage pocket as you go.
Once the sorting is completed, sort the word strips again into their specific vowel either by saying the word and deciding which vowel it belongs to, or by reading the word and spotting the vowel. Then add that strip to the correct paper clip at the bottom of the envelope.
The backs of the envelopes can be glued to stiff cardboard and mounted on a wall so they’re permanently upright and easy to use for a quick activity.
- Just do the first activity of saying the sounds and sorting them into long and short vowel words
- Do the 2nd sort for only the CVC / CVCC words as the long vowels are more difficult
- When the 2 groups are sorted and only the pictures of each strip can be seen facing forward, have a child spell each word before they pull the strip out then self-check the spelling on the back.
- Write a list of the words they sort as they go, with a line down the middle of the page to separate the long and short vowel words.
- Take all the CVC words and practice saying them as though they include long vowels instead. Do those new words make sense or are they nonsense? What about the long vowel words, what happens when you say them using short vowels instead?
Download this activity
Click on the following highlighted link to download your Long and Short Vowel Sort and Read activity.
Looking for more free CVC activities?
I hope you enjoy this vowel sorting activity!