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Home » Blog » Literacy » Phonics » Tips and Tricks for Teaching Short Vowels

Tips and Tricks for Teaching Short Vowels

Literacy, Phonics, Spelling & Word Work

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Teaching short vowels is a fundamental early literacy skill that students will continue to build on in second grade. Keep reading for lessons, activities, and tips to teach short vowels in the second grade classroom.

What are short vowels?

The short vowel sound of each vowel refers to the most commonly heard sound. It is the first sound that students learn the vowel makes before they are introduced to long vowels, vowel teams, and diphthongs. A classroom sound wall and sound chart are great ways to introduce and reinforce short vowel sounds.

individual sound wall for students

Teaching Short Vowels in 2nd Grade

short vowel sounds interactive anchor chart

Short vowels make the short vowel sound when they are closed in by a consonant, as in CVC words, VCC, or CVCC words. This Sounds Chart from our Lucky Little Toolkit is a great resource for students to have in their desks.

CVC Short Vowel examples: hat, met, kit, pot, cut

VCC Short Vowel examples: add, end, ill, odd (usually a double consonant makes the vowel short)

CVCC Short Vowel examples: back, deck, pick, rock, duck (double consonant blends make the vowel short)

These spelling patterns and rules need exposure and practice for students to master. Phonics Ladders can be used as a whole group guided lesson, or as student independent practice. Read more about how to use phonics ladders in the classroom here.

short vowel phonics ladder activity

Try Phonics Ladders with your students

Short Vowel Activities and Centers

Short Vowel Toothy

Toothy game to practice short vowel reading and spelling

This student favorite (and easy to manage) game features the phonics skill: Short Vowel Word Families. It comes in print or digital versions and is great for whole-class instruction, small group work, or independent review.

Decodable Phonics Passages – Short Vowels

decodable phonics passage to practice reading and writing words with short vowels in isolation and in context

A 2nd grade short vowel decodable phonics passage featuring common short vowel spelling patterns. Students will read the passage, write sound words and answer comprehension questions.

Short Vowel Learning Game

short vowel collecting candy phonics center for 1st or 2nd grade

A 2nd grade hands-on phonics center where students select a short vowel game card, read as they move through the game board, then match short vowel words to picture cards and record.

Short Vowel Mystery Words

short vowel mystery words phonics center for 1st or 2nd grade

A mixed short vowel CVC words phonics center in which students use the beginning sound of a series of pictures to reveal a mystery short vowel CVC word.

Mixed Short Vowel Review

Need an activity for early finishers or whole class review? Check out this worksheet with mixed short vowels for practice.

Videos to Teach Short Vowels

Check out these videos and songs to reinforce short vowel sounds for visual-auditory learners!

Let us Write Your Phonics Lesson Plans!

Our team has been hard at work making your teaching life easier! Let us write your phonics lessons plans…for the entire school year. Our new Lucky to Learn Phonics curriculum is currently rolling out and has everything you need to building phonics foundations. Our first unit focused on short vowels. The curriculum takes a deep phonics dive with the following for each focus sound:

  • Digital & PowerPoint lessons
  • Word & sentence lists
  • Word & picture cards
  • An engaging phonics center
  • Fold'n'Decode reader
  • Decodable passage
  • Phonics poem
  • Phonics ladder
  • 5 days of lesson plans for each sound
  • Quick reads
  • Word sorts

Peruse the curriculum now and say goodbye to hours of phonics prep!

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toothy task kits

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toothy task kits

With so many resources to teach short vowels, which will you choose first? Tell us in the comments below!

How to Teach other 2nd Grade Phonics Concepts

Ready to teach another phonics skill? We’ve got a post for that!

Hard & Soft C/G

Multisensory Phonics Activities

Silent Letters

Short Vowels

Short Vowel Digraphs

Long Vowels

Vowel Teams

Teaching Vowel Teams


Inflected Endings

Syllable Patterns/Multisyllabic Words

How to Introduce the 6 Syllable Types


New & Fun Ways to Teach Contractions


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