Mimi and the Grands

Educating Through Multiple Intelligences

Teaching Short Vowels-The M. I. Way

on October 18, 2014

Now that I’ve finished my series giving a brief overview of Multiple Intelligences (M. I.), I want to share how I use these strategies when planning a unit of lessons for my grandsons. The first unit of study I am presenting to you will cover short vowels. I have so much information to share, I’ve decided to divide this information into two different posts. This post will cover three intelligences: Linguistic, Spatial, and Interpersonal. The lesson ideas for the other five intelligences will be presented in another post.

Since my grandsons are 2, 4, and 6 years old, I planned the units of study with an eye to modifying the various activities according to the readiness of each child:

  • Six year old Tigger had learned the short vowels in kindergarten, but I wanted to give him a good review before he started first grade in September. With Tigger, I would concentrate on short vowel sounds that were found in the middle of words (medial sounds) and review blending them with initial and ending consonants.
  • Kona, 4, already recognized all the uppercase and lowercase alphabet letters and had started to pick up quite a few consonant sounds. I decided he might be ready to learn about short vowels at the beginning of words. Possibly I would try medial short vowel sounds, blending sounds, and word families later on in the year.
  • Tahoe, 2, would not be ready to learn short vowel sounds, but I knew I could modify the lessons so his main focus would be on letter recognition and vocabulary development in the lessons.

Even though I am a retired teacher, I had only taught 4th and 5th graders, so I had never actually needed to teach short vowels before. Obviously, I would need to do some research and get advice from people who had taught short vowels successfully. And fortunately, there are many educators, homeschoolers, and afterschoolers who share their engaging lessons on their websites and blogs. I have been inspired by their ideas so much, and I happily share their links.

Crafts that visually match the letter with the short vowel sound are fun ways to help the grands learn. Their mom displays their crafts in their room, so they see these every day.

Crafts that visually match the letter with the short vowel sound are fun ways to help the grands learn. Their mom displays their crafts in their room, so they see these every day.

Usually I do at least one activity for each intelligence, although I may list many more activities in the lesson plan to give me choices depending on the needs of the grandsons. I planned to use two-three intelligences each day (about 30-45 minutes per day), depending on the length of the activity. When I planned this unit, I thought it would take about six weeks to complete with my grandsons. I would teach one short vowel a week, and then have a week to review all of them. Well, that was ambitious! While I did focus on one short vowel each week, I didn’t have time to do all the activities I thought would benefit my grands. So I extended our review week into as many as were needed, because I felt Kona needed a really strong foundation in short vowels before I proceeded to teach him how to blend sounds. Thank goodness I had the luxury of time when teaching my grandsons that I didn’t have as a classroom teacher. Additionally, I kept finding fantastic ideas on websites and blogs, so I kept adding activities to my unit plan. If you use this short vowel plan, it is best to do at least one activity in each intelligence, but please don’t feel you need to do all the activities I share in the post.

Before I begin, let me reiterate that many of these activities can be classified under more than one intelligence, (which makes sense since each of us has a blend of the eight intelligences). In my unit plans, I have organized the activities according to the intelligence that I feel is the most dominant.

Linguistic (Word Smart)

Read books-(All three grands) This is usually where I start my lessons each day. Before reading each book, we look at the pictures, make predictions, and discuss the vowel sound of the week. During the reading of the book, we discuss words with the vowel sound, and afterwards check on our original predictions.  I found this wonderful website for lists of books that go with each letter of the alphabet:


I perused this website each week and then ordered three books from the library for whichever short vowel I would be teaching. Here are my grandsons’ favorite books that I read to them for each short vowel:

  • short vowel a-The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  • short vowel e- Eggday by Joyce Dunbar
  • short vowel i-Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
  • short vowel o-An Octopus Followed Me Home by Dan Yaccarino
  • short vowel u- The Umbrella Day by Nancy Evans Cooney.


Audio books-(All the grands) Since I drive the grands around a lot, I like to keep an audiobook for them in the car. I have found audiobooks for many of the books I used in the library as well.

Discussions(All the grands) As I went about my day with the grands, I would point out words to the grandsons that started with short vowels and have them repeat the word and isolate the vowel sounds. For example, as I gave each grand a bowl of applesauce for a snack, we would discuss the short a sound in applesauce and have the boys repeat the word first and then say the vowel sound.

Bottle caps, letter stamps, or dry erase boards(Modified for each grandson) I cut out  pictures of things with the short vowel sound from magazines or completed workbooks and pasted them on paper. The grandsons could use the bottle caps (that I created), the dry erase board to write the letters themselves,  or  letter stamps (purchased) to indicate which vowel sound matched each picture.

I saved milk bottle caps and wrote the vowels on them. They can be used to match up with pictures cut up and pasted from Tigger’s completed workbooks.

Personal reading –(Tigger)We used the Progressive Phonics books that matched the vowel sound we were discussing that week. He read them with me, but later on he will be able to read them by himself.


Make lists- (All the grands) At the end of the week, make a list of all the words that we discussed during the week with the vowel sound. Tigger and Kona could illustrate the list as well.

Word Puzzles(All the grands) I purchased these word puzzles a while back and used them with this unit of study. Tahoe, 2, recognizes the “o” letter the best and loves to find all of them and place them in the puzzles. Kona, 4, will place all the vowels in the puzzles, and has just begun to blend sounds with some of the pictures. Tigger, 6, has been using all the word puzzles to practice his blending of sounds as well.

All the boys love these word puzzles. Tahoe loves to find all the "o" letters and place them in the puzzles, while these puzzles help Tigger with his blending skills.

All the boys love these word puzzles. Tahoe loves to find all the “o” letters and place them in the puzzles, while these puzzles help Tigger with his blending skills.


Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

Letter crafts-(All the grands)-The grands really enjoy crafts and I always start their craft session with a picture that can be created from the vowel sound. Some of the grands’ creations are pictured near the beginning of this post. While I found lots of ideas on different websites, I had to be careful that the craft ideas I chose were depicting something with the short vowel sound. For example, I wouldn’t make a craft of an eagle for “e” since “eagle” doesn’t begin with the short vowel sound. There are step by step directions for some letter crafts on this fantastic website:


Other crafts-(All the grands)-Ideas for other crafts to go with each short vowel are endless. (For example, the amount of craft ideas for “apples” could keep the grands busy for a year!) This is the website I usually visit first for craft ideas:


I also found a terrific project on stamping “pumpkins” that I adapted to use with short vowels at this website:


Kona says the short vowel sound before stamping a "pumpkin" on the letter.

Kona says the short vowel sound before stamping a “pumpkin” on the letter.

Videos-(All the grands) Another way to use the spatial intelligence is through videos.  I found so many wonderful  videos that teach the short vowel sounds. Here is our favorite site:


Playdough mats- (All the grands)-While I created these playdough mats myself, you can find printable mats on many websites including the one I used for my inspiration:


   Interpersonal (People Smart)

Dramatic play (All the grands)-In dramatic play participants may pantomime and speak. There  is often a created story line. Encourage and participate in dramatic play using words that start with the short vowel sounds. Props can be used, although “pantomiming” the props is easier and adds to the creativity. Here are some ideas to try:

short a: astronauts taking a space walk from the Space Lab

short e: collecting eggs; washing elephants

short i: building an igloo; using different ingredients to make a salad (or soup, cake, smoothie, casserole etc.)

short o: pretending to be an octopus trying on new clothes

short u: exploring an underwater habitat

Kona really enjoys our cooking sessions together. Here he is adding cinnamon to his mini apple turnovers.

Cooking -(All the grands) Since this activity requires adult supervision due to my grandsons’ ages, I have categorized this in the interpersonal section. When my grandsons are more independent readers, I will categorize cooking under linguistic since they will be reading and following the directions in recipes. My  grandsons love to cook, so I always include some type of culinary activity with each short vowel:

short a: Make applesauce or mini apple turnovers. (Actually, we made both but on different days.). To make the applesauce, I peeled and cut two Granny Smith apples and placed them in a two quart microwaveable casserole dish. My grandsons added a little water, honey, lemon juice, and a few dashes of cinnamon. After microwaving for three minutes, my grandsons helped me mash the cooked apple pieces. They had to wait for the applesauce to cool before eating.

I found the mini apple turnover recipe at this link:


Short e: scrambled eggs-Use your own recipe or try this one:


short i: Italian bread salad. I discovered this recipe, but haven’t tried it yet.


short o: olive and cream cheese spread-Mix 3-4 ounces cream cheese with a small drained can of chopped olives, and a tsp. of mayonnaise. Spread on crackers, bread, or in celery.

short u: upside down cake- I will be trying this recipe:



Shell game  (All the grands) Even the youngest grandson enjoyed playing this simple activity. I found this short vowel game on this website:


Rocky and Kona loved this game, however instead of a pom pom, they substituted one of their cars.

Shell game with short vowels:Rocky and Kona loved this game, however instead of a pom pom, they substituted one of their cars.


Well, those are some activities for three of the multiple intelligences. My grandsons have enjoyed these activities so much, and my hope is that by engaging all their intelligences, I am helping my grandsons become lifelong learners.

Next week, I will publish a post explaining how I used the remaining five intelligences to teach my grandsons the short vowels.

I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan lessons for children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I create them, you can become a follower of this blog.


littles schooling b Collage


15 responses to “Teaching Short Vowels-The M. I. Way

  1. Eva says:

    My kids are 2, 4, and 6, so this is perfect for us! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Jill says:

    This is a great resource! I think this will come in handy for lots of parents!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nichole says:

    These are great! My son is definitely Spatial.


  4. We LOVE play dough!! Those mats look really fun!

    And I didn’t realize there were books for each individual vowel. I LOVE that! I need to get copies of those books!!

    Thank you for linking up with #made4kids. We hope you share another fantastic post with us next week! http://www.playdoughandpopsicles.com/made-for-kids-link-party-4/


  5. Excellent and extremely resourceful. Thank you for sharing. Will tweet to reach other parents.


  6. redheadmom8 says:

    Wow! This is amazing! My kids phonics books seem so dull now. I’ll definitely try some of these activities. Your grandchildren are very blessed!


  7. […] Teaching Short Vowels-The M. I. Way […]


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