Each of the five short vowels is represented by 12 cards with images of words containing that short vowel (for a total of 60 cards plus five key word cards). For example, full-color images for short a, /ă/, include a: map, bat, cab, fan, wag, pass, sad, flag, glass, grad, lamp, and mask.
Note: Each short vowel and its sound should have been presented individually to students before it is included in Short Vowel Deck activities.
Goals for use of the Short Vowel Deck
1. Auditory Discrimination of Short Vowels – Many students need practice in identifying the short vowel sounds they hear in words. By practicing with images rather than written words, students can focus solely on the vowel sound rather than on the spelling pattern. Because students typically have more difficulty with short vowel sounds rather than long vowel sounds, there are 12 image cards for each short vowel sound (in contrast to six image cards for each long vowel sound).
Working with the short i and short e sounds, for example, students can sort the image cards under the correct key word card. The teacher puts the igloo/itch and elephant/echo key word cards at the top of two columns. Students sort the 24 image cards (12 for each short vowel) into the correct column, either under /ě/ or under /ĭ/.
The back of the key word card lists all of the images for each short vowel.
Another activity to develop auditory discrimination is a Go Fish game. The short vowel image cards are shuffled and each player is dealt five cards. The other cards form the draw pile. The goal is to make a group of four (“a book”) of the same short vowel. If a player is dealt a group of four of the same short vowel or forms a group during play, they place the group on the table and take another turn. Players ask the player to their left if they have a designated short vowel (“Do you have a short a, /ă / as in apple?) If yes, the player’s short a cards are given and the asker gets another turn. If no, the asker is told to “Go Fish,” and draws from the draw pile. If they draw the vowel sound they are seeking, they get another turn. The player with the most books of four wins the game after all cards have been played.
2. Making the Concept of Short Vowel and Long Vowel more secure
Many students are not clear about which is a short vowel and which is a long vowel. To help make those concepts more secure, do card sorts (see above) with both a long and a short vowel. When placing an image card (such as cape) in the long vowel column (under the key word card cake), student will say, “cape, long a, long vowel.” Conversely, when placing an image card (such as bat) in the short vowel column (under the key word card apple), student will say, “bat, short i, short vowel).”