Young students explore vowel sounds with help from Emily Elizabeth and Clifford the Big Red Dog.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
This lesson provides practice identifying words with short-vowel sounds and sound-spellings.
- Recognize short vowel sounds by reading and listening to a story that highlights select words
- Use picture clues to aid comprehension
- Construct a story by actively choosing words
- Identify short-vowel sounds that complete C-V-C words
- Name words with the same short-vowel sounds
- Clifford Phonics Fun Activities
- Chalkboard or similar display
- Clifford Interactive Storybook Here, Clifford!
- Clifford Storybook activity Make a Word
- Computer(s) with Internet access
- Optional: LCD or overhead projector to display storybook activities
- Optional: headphones
Set Up and Prepare
- Bookmark the Interactive Clifford Storybooks on the computers students will use.
- NOTE: If students have limited access to computers, print activity screens and make transparency copies to post on an overhead projector.
Step 1: Read aloud one or two books where words with short vowels are prominent. Choose titles from the Clifford phonics collections or classic titles such as: Caps for Sale, The Fat Cat, An Extraordinary Egg, The Little Red Hen, Titch, and Whistle for Willie.
Step 2: Write a list of simple C-V-C (consonant-vowel-consonant) words on the chalkboard to illustrate short vowel sounds for a, e, i, o, and u. Include some words from the book you've read, Clifford Storybooks you are using, or others. Provide at least one for each short vowel sound-spelling. Examples: cat, red, sun, big, and top. Review with students the short vowel sound in each word you've listed by reading the word aloud and then repeating the short vowel sound. For example, point to the word "cat" as you say it. Then explain: "The short vowel sound in the word cat is /a/. The letter a makes the /a/ sound." Ask students what other words contain the same short vowel sounds as ones on the board. Write down their responses.
Step 3: Have students go to page one of Here, Clifford!. Read the first two sentences and model for students how to click the speaker icon next to the sentences to hear them read aloud.
Step 4: Click the speaker icon next to the third sentence. After listening to the narrator read, explain to students that they need to choose one of the three words in the circles to put into the story. Students can click on the words to hear each one aloud. Point out that all three words have the letter a in them. Ask students what sound this vowel makes in the word choices. Explain that in these words the letter a makes a short a vowel sound /a/.
Step 1: Working in pairs, have students read the story Here, Clifford!. They should read each sentence and then listen to the sentence read aloud.
Step 2: Instruct students to listen to each word choice for the third sentences and to choose one word to complete the sentence on each page. Can students identify the common vowel, the short vowel sound, and other words with the same sound? Have them share their words with each other and encourage them to correct each other if they identify the wrong short vowel sound.
Step 3: When students finish the story, help them link to the game Make a Word. Click the speaker icon to hear the instructions. Have the pairs create as many words as they can with the letters. (If necessary, model how to click and drag a letter to make a word.)
Step 4: When students have created all the words they can, have them share their lists. Did they leave any out? Print the word lists for each student. Have students take turns reading the list aloud.
Step 5: As a class, review the words and group them into lists that have the same short vowel sound (e.g., cot, dot, pot). What other words have the same short vowel sound? Prompt students with examples: pond, pod, cod, rod, etc.
Supporting All Learners
While students enjoy Clifford Interactive Storybooks, they will be participating in activities that correlate with many of the national standards for reading and language arts.
Relevant standards for reading instruction as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of English include:
Students demonstrate competence in general skills and strategies of the reading process. Students:
- Understand that print conveys meaning
- Use picture clues to aid comprehension
- Decode unknown words using basic elements of phonetic analysis
- Read aloud familiar stories
Listed below are the specific phonics skills covered in each of Clifford's stories.
- Where Is Emily? - initial consonants
- Clifford's Big Dig - confusable letter pairs
- Here, Clifford! - short vowels
- Emily Elizabeth Goes to School - long vowels
- Write a word with a short vowel sound on each square of an old checkerboard. The game is played just like checkers, except players must read the word on each space they land on. If a player cannot read a word, he or she returns to the original space.
- As you teach each short vowel sound-spelling, challenge students to find examples of the sound-spelling relationship in words on signs, cereal boxes, advertisements, and other everyday items. Have students bring these items to class and attach them to a bulletin board.
- Write letters or spellings you want to review on large note cards. Distribute one card to each student. Then have three students stand in front of the class. Ask them to stand in a sequence that forms a word. Each group must determine its word. For example, you might call on students with the s, a, and t cards. When the students form the word sat, have the class chorally read the word. Continue by substituting letters such as i for a, or by forming new words.
- Were students able to identify the short vowel sound for the word choices on each storybook page?
- Did students successfully identify other words with the same short vowel sound?
- Were students able to pronounce each word from the Make a Word list correctly?
- Could they identify other words with the same short vowel sounds?
To further assess knowledge of short vowel sound-spellings:
- Create a set of C-V-C word cards (e.g., sat, cup, ten).
- Display one card at a time as students chorally say the word. Note children who do not respond or who have delayed responses. Test these students individually.
- Provide additional instruction on the short vowel sound-spellings students struggle with.