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First Vowel Sounds


1. Teach the 19 vowel sounds of English.

2. Teach the meaning of First Vowel Sound and Second Vowel Sound.

3. Practice the First Vowel Sounds (the short vowel sounds).

Pre-Class Preparation

1. Write on the board: Main Rule: Stop each chunk after the vowel sound and use the First Vowel Sound.

2. Nearby, set off a spot on the board with four columns, drawing lines for five entries in the each of the first three columns and four entries in the fourth column. Write the headings First Vowel Sounds and Second Vowel Sounds above the first two columns. Examples of what you will be filling in are "/ee/ - sheep", "/a/ - cat", and "/oy/ - coin".

3. Download this PDF file and make copies for each student: First Vowel Sound Practice

4. Go to the page Notation for the 43 Sounds and review the vowel sounds in the curriculum, if you think it necessary.

Class Time Elapsed: 0 minutes

In-Class Procedures

1. Review the concept of a vowel sound giving a word volume, reminding them of fish with and without the /i/ sound.

Time elapsed: 2 minutes

2. Ask the class to come up with new vowel sounds and an example word for each, telling them there are nineteen in all.

3. As students volunteer new vowel sounds, list them on the board using the following groupings and notations: Put /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/ and /u/ together in the first column, under the "First Vowel Sounds" heading. Put /ae/, /ee/, /ie/, /oe/ and /ue/ in the second column, under the "Second Vowel Sounds" heading. Put /ow/, /oo/, /oul/, /oy/ and /aw/ in the third column and put /ar/, /or/, /er/ and /err/ in the fourth, arranging them in that order. Thus, if the first student volunteers the sound /ee/ with the example sheep go to the second column and put /ee/ in the second slot down on that column and write sheep next to the /ee/. Explain that the the slash marks denote a sound, not a spelling.

(When a student volunteers a sound, say /oy/, but uses an example spelled with a different spelling of the /oy/ sound, just write /oy/ on the line reserved for the /oy/ sound (line 4 of the third column) and write his example, say coin, after it. Explain that there is more than one way to spell the /oy/ sound and that you will designate it with /oy/. Give them an example using that spelling, such as boy.)

Time elapsed: 10 minutes to get all 19 vowel sounds listed, even if you have to prompt them with the last ones by asking, say, what the vowel sound is in lawn or wood.

4. Ask the class to quickly recite in order, from memory, the Second Vowel Sounds and point out that most of them probably already have them committed to memory.

5. Ask the class to quickly recite from memory, the First Vowel Sounds, in order, /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/.

6. Point out that most of them might not have them memorized yet, even though they were the first vowel sounds they ever studied in school, and that the next assignment will be to memorize them.

7. Hand out a copy of the First Vowel Sound practice sheet that you have already downloaded.

8. Demonstrate its use and tell them that learning to automatically be able to come up with the five First Vowel Sounds associated with the letters a, e, i, o, and u will be the first step in improving their reading of unfamiliar words.

12. Assign the task of learning to be able to quickly recite the five First Vowel Sounds on any of the lines of the practice sheet.

Note: At some point in the first three or four lessons you need to have the “This is not rocket science” discussion, and so if you have extra class time available here, do it now. Explain that many students struggle to learn to read because of undiagnosed and untreated vision problems when they were in first and second grade and that by the time the vision problems resolve one way or another, they have missed a lot of easy-to-learn, but important, information. Tell them that learning to read is not “rocket science” because six year olds manage to do it, but you have to have had the proper visual and motor skills in place or the instruction didn’t sink in. The point is to make it clear to your students that they can do this, and showing them that they can quickly and easily learn the First Vowel Sounds with just a bit of practice is a good way to start convincing them that they can, in fact, become much better readers.

Time elapsed: 15 minutes