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Step 1: Short Vowels / Closed Syllables (CVC)

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Vowels are the only letters that can say their own name

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Short Vowel / Closed Syllable Definitions:
Short Vowel refers to a vowel saying its short sound (not its name) as in hat, bed, sit, off, up. Short vowels are represented:  /ă/  /ĕ/  /ĭ/  /ŏ/  /ŭ
Long Vowel refers to when a vowel says its name as in she, and bike. Long vowels are represented: /ā/  /  /ī/  /ō/  /ū/
CVC is short for Closed syllable. The closed syllable has one vowel and ends in a consonant. The vowel says its short sound like in the words fan, pet, it, on, and luck. The Closed syllable is the most common syllable, and the only syllable where the vowel says its short sound.

Teaching Videos and Written Stories

Teaching Videos:

Introduction: AE, I O U a kiss! The vowels are different from all the other letters, even the y.
/ĕ/, Fred and his horse named Ed
/ă/, Apple
/ĭ/, Igloo

/ŏ/, Octopus
/ŭ/, Umbrella

Written Stories:

PowerPoints and Google Slides PowerPoints for teaching short vowel words CVC Google Slides Icon

For the formatting of PowerPoints to be correct, click FILE, then DOWNLOAD, and download in Microsoft PowerPoint.

How to make the vowel sounds PowerPoint from instructional video All 5 vowel PowerPoint slides are in the PowerPoint, so we recommend you come back multiple times to teach one new vowel sound at a time.  Use the up and down arrows to navigate through the PowerPoint.

Google Slides Short a /ă/ Family intro -at -an -ap -am -ag
Google Slides Short e /ĕ/ Family intro -ell -eg -ed -en -et
Google Slides Short i /ĭ/ Family intro -in -ill -it -ig -id -ip
Google Slides Short o /ŏ/ Family intro -og -od -ot -op -ob -oss
Google Slides Short u /ŭ/ Family intro -um -up -ut -ub -un -ug

Good readers do not read letter by letter, they read in chunks.  Start this habit early by reading closed syllable words from the vowel to the end of the word, then add the first sound(s).  By clicking through this PowerPoint the student should be saying “ot” “pot” “ot” “hot”.  To make this even more effective, do it to a beat (you can use a free online metronome) so the student gives a response every other beat.  There is a lot of research going on about how beat and rhythm helps learning in lots of ways.
PowerPoint CVC Beginning word families reading in chunks 1
PowerPoint CVC Beginning word families reading in chunks 2

PowerPoint Flash Beginning Word Families
In this PowerPoint the 4h words are flashed. This helps students learn to take a quick look and make an image of the word in their heads. See Flashing Words for more information on this strategy.  Download the PowerPoint and use the up and down arrows to  arrows to go through it.

PowerPoint All Syllable Types with Practice  (Directions in notes section on each slide) Use only slides that are relevant to where you are in the steps.

Teach Along the Way with Short Vowels Teach along the way with short vowels


Big Sounds Pack: Print and and add the relevant sounds, (the 21 consonants, 5 vowels, -ck, and -all) to practice daily. Add more sounds each step of the way.

Work on mastering the first sets of beginning sight words.

qu, the /kw/ sound, counts as one consonant: q is always followed by u and together they count as one consonant. Together they say /kw/. I tell students “The queen broke her leg (hence the backwards bend in the lowercase q in most fonts) and so the u wheels her around in a wheelbarrow. This is all the u can do – it does not say anything. Saying “Quiet queen, work on your quilt!” emphasizes the /kw/ sound.

– ck: The /k/ sound after a short vowel is spelled ck. The /k/ sound after any other sound is almost always spelled with a k.

ffsszzll: The “fizzle” rule. These letters are usually doubled after a short vowel in a one syllable word. This comes up in words like bell and fizz.

all: The word all and the ending -all is pronounced as if it were spelled with an /ŏ/, making it a cheater chunk.

** If questions about Magic e (vce) words present themselves, we have Beginning Magic e Pyramids, stories, and games Packs to use.

Tips Tips

TIP: To be consistent with pronunciation say key word before vowel sound (apple /ă/, elephant (or Ed) /ĕ/, igloo (or icky) /ĭ/, octopus /ŏ/, umbrella /ŭ/).  Without training, most adults say vowel sounds incorrectly when trying to pronounce a vowel by itself (without being in a word).

Being automatic with the basic skills is key to reading. Learners need to read and write with automaticity. Consider the following strategies when working towards automaticity:
See Working on New Words or Sounds with Flashcards
See Flashing Words
See Highlighting Word Lists
See Timing Students

Map Sounds to Letters

Map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map Sounds To Letters examples

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words, for example:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /ŭ/. Point out that this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…

Key and Directions for Materials Key

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1K-1 Beginning
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-21-2 Growing
Pink Plus: intervention, challengeIntervention/Challenge

Bundle: Multiple types of materials (games, activities, stories…) bundled together.
Pack: Multiple pieces of the same type of material, for example a pack of books.

Directions for everything else:

More on the Directions Page

Sample Bundle

Sample Bundle contains samples of the stories, games, lists, flashcards, fluency pyramids, activities, spelling and more you will find in the practice section below.

Practice Reading Practice Practice Reading

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