Vowels are speech sounds that we can create with an open vocal tract. In the English language we recognize there to be five and sometimes six letters that represent these sounds. The letters a, e, I, o, u, and sometimes y makes these sounds. Most language have at least three vowels. Short vowel sounds occur when a letter is not pronounced in the same way the letter sounds. Vowels that sound the same as the pronunciation of the letter are called long vowel sounds. You can tell the difference between long and short vowel sounds by sounding out the word and specifically the vowel sound and comparing it to the letter sound.
The collection of worksheets below will help students find and decipher vowels that don't sound like as they appear. For example the word "fan". The "a" is a short vowel because it does not sound like an normal "a" sound. Short vowels normally appear when grouped or surrounded by consonants. This gets tricky when we get it vocal language. Homophones draw fear in most eyes, when they are not written down. For instance, would have a steak or stake for dinner? Is it hot outside because the son or sun is glaring down on you? It is a really good idea to do a few of these worksheets as a class. Try to sound out everything and when possible, make sure to use visuals and pictures to help you along.
Get Free Worksheets In Your Inbox!
Print Short Vowel Worksheets
Click the buttons to print each worksheet and associated answer key.
Saw each word quietly to yourself. Draw a picture of each word that has a sound in its name.
What Are Short Vowels?
The English language is made up of 26 letters. They are further divided into vowels and consonants. The vowels: a, e, i, o, and u have two methods of pronunciation. They make (at least) two sounds, a short one and a long one. Sometimes, they can be silent, too.
When a vowel in a word makes the sound of its particular letter, it is called a short sound. Say the words bat and led. The 'a' in 'bat' and 'e' in 'led' make these sounds.
The most common sound for each vowel is its "short" sound:
- a is pronounced as /æ/ like in ant, map, or tanning
- e is pronounced as /ɛ/ like in egg, men, or getting
- i is pronounced as /ɪ/ like in ice, tin, or literature
- o is pronounced as /ɑ/ like in ostrich, lot, or osmosis
- u is pronounced as /ʌ/ like in umbrella, pun, or mutt
The Consonant Vowel Consonant (CVC) Pattern
The sounds that are associated with the letters, a, e, i, o, and u are the short vowel sounds. These letters produce this sound when they are placed between two consonants making the CVC pattern. Consonant-Vowel-Consonant or CVC words, such as fat, met, hit, not, and cut, make the vowels produce this sound.
You should let your students know that when we use the term short, we do not mean the length of time it takes to pronounce the vowel sound—it is meant to be a name only.
If a vowel follows two consonants, the vowel will make this sound.
For example: ball, Beth, pull, broth, and ding
Additionally, when a vowel is pronounced with a short vowel sound, it may be followed by two consonants. It is not necessary for the consonants to be present for the identification of these vowels but they do offer a handy clue that the sound in that particular instance is indeed that echo you are looking for.
When a word starts with a vowel and is followed by either one, two, or more consonants, the CVC pattern will still apply.
Example CVC Words with Sounds
a - Gas, dab, mad, pal, sap, gap, yam, zap, jab, van
e -Gem, leg, vet, hem, red, wet, set, met, Ted, jet
i -Gig, lit, rim, pin, sin, fig, sit, zip, gin, did
u -Gum, rut, mug, cub, sun, tug, gut, hug, pug, sub
Rules of These Sounds
As mentioned earlier, these sounds are called short, but it doesn't actually take a shorter time to say them than long sounds. It is essential for beginners to learn how to pronounce the short sounds of these five vowels because they are the most commonly used sound for their letters.
The rules for how and when to use the short vowel sounds apply to all five vowels.
- When the syllables of a word end in a vowel, followed by a consonant, usually the vowel is short and it is almost always short.
- When we add -ed to change a verb to the past tense, the vowel sound stays the same. An ending consonant is often doubled for keeping a short vowel short. For example: Stop – Stopped, Spill – Spilled.
Ways to Teach Short Vowels to Kids
- Play songs and poems from YouTube and other online resources