Whether you teach vowel sounds via word families, sound-spellings, letter combinations, an assortment of rules, etc,etc.........you and your kids will gain much by building these vowel word letters. You, the teacher, will be able to determine if a child can differentiate vowel sounds and if they can decide, by a vowel's placement in a word and the letters around it, whether it will be long or short. I guess you can call this resource a combination assessment/fun activity. The child will gain practice and experience in using their vowel knowledge to read and sort words by their vowels sounds.
To teach vowel sounds, I first teach the sounds in isolation. I use flashcards, posters, anchor charts, and songs followed up by worksheets.
The vowel song we use is one that is sung to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm". It addresses the short vowel sounds of the 5 vowels and comes with
all of the parts needed to make an adorable sing-along poster. You can find this at my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Old-McScarecrows-Vowel-Garden-and-Song-824841
After the children know the individual vowel sounds, I teach the application of these sounds within words. The system I use is a hybrid of word families and
tried and true phonics rules. There are many traditional rules, such as the "magic E" and "the first vowel does the talking and the second does the
walking". These are OK, but I like to incorporate a more universal rule that can be applied to a broader base of words. Instead of the rules mentioned, I
prefer to substitute them with "the first vowel does the talking and the other vowels do the walking". This rule covers the silent ending e rule as well as
words that have a long vowel followed by one vowel or more than one vowel. For instance, the rule works well with pine (silent e), weak (the first vowel is
long, the second is silent) and please (the first vowel is long and all of the others are silent).
I have some really great colorful classroom posters that state and demonstrate both long and short vowel rules as well as the most common word families.
These would be a tremendous help and a gentle reminder to the class while they are learning to read. If you'd like to see them, click on https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/What-is-a-Word-Classroom-Posters-Worksheets-2691992
Some of the most effective resources I have used in small groups or with individuals are the CVC Mystery Word Reading Foldables. These are actually
triple-folded task cards. Each card is about one short vowel word. Each panel (the card is folded 3x; hence, 3 panels) is numbered (1,2,3) and shown one
at a time, starting with panel 1. The first panel gives a clue about the word and the first letter. Panel 2 gives the second letter of the word or the word
family part. (you have a choice, use one or both; there are 2 sets of cards- one set is for the traditional sounding out way and the other set is for word
family strategies in reading words)The last panel gives the entire word to read. The child reads each word part as it is revealed on the panel. The last
panel allows them to blend all the word parts together. Finally, there is a flap on the last panel that hides a picture of the word. Flip it up and the word's
picture is shown. This method is non-intimidating for beginning readers and the "suspense" keeps the child focused. You can find these CVC Mystery Word
Once the children have a pretty good handle on vowel sounds and phonics rules for long and short vowels, it would be a good time to try the Sticky Notes
Vowel Word Letters.
All you need is large colored construction paper and a pack or 2 of sticky notes (3"x3" Post-Its). I used the colored file folders- just open them up and
make the letters holding the file long-wise. Use a ruler to help you "draw" large block letters for capital A,E,I,O,U. Make 2 of each letter. Cut them out.
Label each letter with a long vowel title or a short vowel title. (see my photo)
On a separate paper, make a list of one-syllable long vowel and short vowel words for each letter. Try to use a variety of two, three, four, five letter words
for both long and short vowels. You could fall into the trap of writing all 3 letter words for the short vowels (CVC) and 4 or more letters for the long vowels.
Children are clever and may figure out a "system" on how to tell the short vowel words from the long vowel words. If you set up your word list this way, they
may think that all 3-letter words have short vowels and all words with more than 3 letters have long vowels! Write the words you want to use on the post-it
notes(one word per page/note).I used about 10-12 post-it notes for each letter. Add new words as time goes on.
I suggest doing only 1 vowel at a time. For instance, if you do "E", put out both the "long E" and "short E" large cut out letters. Take all of the long and
short vowel e words on sticky notes and place them all mixed up on a space outside of the large letters. (sometimes I do this on the chalkboard, dry erase
board, or a large table top) The child/children pick a word, read it, and stick it on the appropriate letter E.(long or short)
Save these covered word letters and review the words the next day or the next few days. As I've said, you can repeat this whole process with new words.
When the children get REALLY good at this, you may want to play "Minute to Win It'. There are many ways to play with teams, pairs of students, and
individuals. Here is one way for a pair of students: write a bunch of long and short vowel words on the chalkboard or dry erase board. When I play, I "stick"
to only one vowel per game. Draw 2 large circles on the board and label them each "long vowel", "short Vowel" respectively. Assign each child to be a long
vowel word finder or a short vowel word finder. Have some kind of timer to keep watch of the time. Give each child a piece of chalk or dry erase marker.
On the word "go" the children find and write the words that go in their particular circle. Tell the chidren to stop once the minute is over. To be the winner,
a child must read all of the words in their circle, the correct words have to be in their circle (if it's in the wrong circle, it is erased), and they must have the
most words in their circle. Even though the game is played by 2 students, the whole class loves to participate. The rest of the class watches intently while
the players are having a turn and, when it's time for 2 other people to have their turn, they've already "studied" the words without actually meaning to!
Those who go last are the ones who usually do the best. OK, finally....here's my photo of my Sticky Notes Vowel Word Letters...