Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How to Teach Vowels and Consonants

Have you ever asked your students the difference between a vowel and a consonant?
Did they answer vowels are red?
UGH.  This is the answer that I kept getting from my students last year.
WHY?  Because every commercial made product I bought the vowels were all in red.
Students picked up on this pretty quick and could identify vowels (YAY!), but they could not actually tell me why a vowel is different than a consonant.
Do you know why?
Of course we know, a word has to have a vowel in it to be vowel, but I wanted to know more.
Through my Orton-Gillingham training this year, I learned more.

Vowels actually open your mouth when you say them.  Consonants close your mouth.
Try it.  Say the short a sound like in cat. /a/.  mouth open right?  Try all the short and long vowels sounds.  Your mouth is open right?

Now try the consonants.  B, C, D, F, G,  your mouth is blocked by your teeth tongue or lips. Some consonants are easier to tell than others. Pretty cool right.  This will help your students a TON.

Now you will tell your students this and they will try it out and you will have one Miss Smartie Pants say what about H?   This is what happened to me, and honestly I was stumped. Your mouth is very much opened. So I went to my speech teacher because she knows all, and explained that it is blocked way in the back of your throat by your tongue, but used very technical terms.  So if you need a better explanation ask your speech teacher.

Anyway, I started doing this activity with all of my intervention groups last year.   I was surprised at how many of my second and third graders did not know this, and were very interested in it.  It really makes the concept of a vowel and consonant more concrete, rather than abstract.

Give it a try with your students.

First introduce this concept whole group:  Put all the letters on sticky notes.    As a class say each letter sound and decided if your mouth is open or blocked by your teeth tongue or lips. Sort them by vowels and consonants.

Then give them a chance to practice more at small groups and centers.  You could use the same sticky note idea, or have them write the consonants and vowels into two columns.

I made this quick little product to help you out if you need it.

There is a colored bug center activity, and a black and white sorting activity that could be done as just a sorting activity or students can cut, paste and sort with it.

Here are some of my students working on the sort at my small group intervention.

Give it a try.  Come back and let me know how it goes with your students, or shoot me an email at 180daysofreading@gmail.com


NEXT Read about how I teach syllables to my students:  Why I Used to HATE Teaching Syllables! 

You might be interested in this post about teaching the alphabet.
Do you build a strong foundation in reading?  


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