In order for children to learn how to read they have to understand the language, rules, and explain why words are pronounced a particular way.
Vowels are difficult sounds to learn because children need to learn that vowels make short, long, and schwa sounds. Early literacy contains short vowel sounds, so they’re the first vowel sounds kids are taught (cat, bat, sat, mop, top).
Many of us were taught letter-sound correspondence by listening to caregivers, peers, and teachers. But as children, we don’t truly understand why vowels make different sounds. We’re taught rules such as “i before e except after c” but it’s all abstract (there is an exception to this rule; stay tuned in future postings!). The letter “y” is pronounced /ē/ (“ee”) in a two syllable word (such as baby). Why is that? Just one of many odd exceptions to the rule that the English language is full of, making it one of the hardest languages to grasp for foreign speakers.
Once children start to make sounds, this is a great activity to do with them. You can do it daily or a few times a week. For school-aged children in the lower grades (K-2) you can make it fun and use a puppet. For upper grade children (3-5) you can have them be “the teacher/leader” and make a song or rhyme out of it. For middle school children (6-8), ask them to lead the activity as well. Record them so they can hear themselves and learn to distinguish the sounds.
What is a vowel extension:
This activity is taken from the Fundations Program created by Barbara Wilson. http://www.fundations.com/overview.aspx
Do this exercise with your child as often as you’d like and it will help them identify the vowels in isolation and in words.
Steps to teaching Vowel Extensions:
1. Say the vowel – a
2. Say the sound, but extend it and exaggerate the sound and follow the dotted line (get silly with it-little ones love this).
3. When you reach the picture of the keyword, say the keyword
4. End with saying the sound again before moving on to the next vowel.
Let me know how this works out for your child!
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