Mimi and the Grands

Educating Through Multiple Intelligences

Teaching Short Vowels-The M. I. Way (Conclusion)

on October 27, 2014

In the first part of this series, I gave lesson ideas for teaching short vowels to my grandsons using Linguistic, Spatial, and Interpersonal strategies. In this post, I will explain my lesson plans for the other five intelligences: Bodily-kinesthetic, Naturalist, Logical/mathematical, Intrapersonal, and Musical.

As a reminder, I planned the units of study with an eye to modifying the various activities according to the readiness of each grandson:

  • 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 will 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.

I highly recommend using at least one activity from each intelligence, but don’t feel like you need to do all of the activities I’ve listed. I always over plan so I have list of choices, and then decide which activities best fit the needs of my grandsons. I taught the short vowel unit of study over a six week time period, but I am still doing a few activities each week with them as a review.

Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)

My grandsons are very bodily-kinesthetic so I like to have many of these activities planned for them.

Driving to the Vowel Sound(Tigger and Kona) I used the picture cards I created from magazines and old workbooks that Tigger had completed. Then I taped a different short vowel letter to the top of the boys’ toy cars. The idea is to have the grands “drive” their short vowel “car” to the pictures that begin with the short vowel sound.


I utilized the grands' love of toy cars to make this matching game.

I utilized the grands’ love of toy cars to make this matching game.

I taped the vowel letters on the grands' toy cars.

I taped the vowel letters on the grands’ toy cars.

Kona easily matched the "toy cars" with the picture cards I made.

Kona easily matched the “toy cars” with the picture cards I made.

Pantomimes- (All the grands) Pantomime is basically telling a story through movement. To help my grandsons learn how to pantomime, I usually did these with the boys. As they became more confident, the older ones attempted their own pantomime:

  • short a: eating an apple, moving like an alligator
  • short e: hatching from an egg, walking like an elephant
  • short i: moving like an inchworm
  • short o: putting shoes on an octopus,
  • short u: swimming under water, tossing something up in the air

For more movement ideas, look at these links:



Find the Treasure- (All the grands)-This activity combines bodily-kinesthetic and spatial intelligences. I had a new building set for the grands, but instead of just giving this gift to them, I used it as a way to review the short vowels. I divided the set into five parts,  placed each set of  pieces in a baggie, and then hid them. Next I made a treasure map (spatial intelligence) using short vowels in the “clues” and the grands had to run around the house and backyard (bodily-kinesthetic) to find their “treasure”. Tigger had to read the words with short vowels on the map and I helped with the words he didn’t yet know. Kona had to tell me which short vowel sound he heard, and Tahoe guessed the name of the letter. Here are some ideas for clues that contain short vowel sounds:

  • under the table
  • on the bed
  • up the playset ladder
  • on the desk
  • where eggs are kept
  • next to the apple tree
  • in the toybox

The inspiration for this activity I found at this link:


Hiding Short Vowels(Tigger and Kona) I use the picture cards I made from magazines and old workbooks for many activities, including this one. I gave each grandson a card for each short vowel and asked them to hide them and remember where they place them. They could be hidden anywhere in the house. When that was completed, each grandson was given a letter (written on an upcycled bottle cap). They were told to find the picture that started with the short vowel sound made by the letter they were given. Since these boys are very competitive, they raced through the house to find their hidden card. I repeated this with each short vowel sound until all the picture cards were found. It was a good workout for them, and they wanted to play the game again.

Bath time Short vowels- (All the grands)- I have not done this idea yet, but when I do, I will use short vowel letters (or words with short vowels in the medial position for Tigger) instead of sight words. Basically you put the letter of each vowel sound on circles made from craft foam. Each child has a net and as you call our the vowel sound, the child has to scoop up the correct foam piece. Here is where I found this idea:


Relay Race-(Tigger and Kona) Again I will use the picture cards I created and the bottle caps with vowel letters written on them. To play, I will put two picture cards for each vowel at one end of the yard. At the other end I will give each grandson one bottle cap with a vowel letter they have to match with a picture card. They will race to the end of the yard to find the correct card and return to me. Then I will give them the second vowel letter to find and they will again race to retrieve the correct picture. I will do this until all the pictures have been matched correctly.

  Naturalist intelligence (Nature Smart)

Field trips(All the grands)-This is a great time of year to visit apple orchards and practice the short vowel sounds. We recently went to a local apple orchard that also is attached to a Nature Conservancy wilderness area. All the grandsons had a blast collecting sticks and acorns to make the letters of the short vowels. We discussed the vowel sounds as we explored the area including: apple trees, red ants, sticks, pumpkins, insects, etc. Field trips to zoos, beaches, botanical gardens, and parks are wonderful places to explore living things with short vowel sounds in their names.

Nature Letters (All the grands) Even in their backyard or local park, the grands love to make the letters of the short vowels out of leaves, twigs, in sand, dirt, mud, gravel, or any other items they find in the natural environment. Here are some ideas from another website:


Scavenger Hunt-(All the grands) I made a list of plants, animals, and other items that could be found in the grands’ backyard or neighborhood for each short vowel. I gave the grands some picture cards to help them with a few ideas, but sometimes you come across other words to discuss during the hunt. Included in my list were words that started with the short vowel sound, or words with the short vowel sound in the medial position. Here are some ideas I  had of living things to look for in our local environment:  liquid amber tree, bird egg, cat, dog, twig, ants, apple tree, sun, walnut tree, lizard, mud, sand, insects, bugs, rocks, elm tree, evergreen tree, animals, apple tree, under rocks, and olive tree.

Kona explores words that begin with the short a sound with an outdoor scavenger hunt. Pictures help him in his search.

Kona explores words that begin with the short a sound with an outdoor scavenger hunt. Pictures help him in his search.


Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)

Counting activities:

There are so many ideas for counting, but here are a few:

  • seeds in apples
  • number of apples in a bag or on a tree
  • eggs left in egg carton before and after making scrambled eggs
  • legs on insects
  • sides on an octagon or arms on octopus
  • spokes on an umbrella 
  • number of ingredients in a favorite recipe


Since “inches” starts with a short vowel sound, use an inch ruler or measuring tape to measure other items with short vowels including: apples, eggs, stop signs (which are octagons), umbrellas, etc. Here is a neat idea about making playdough inchworms to measure:


Egg carton math:  (All the grands) There are lots of ways a simple egg carton can be used for math activities. Here is one that my grandsons have done. Using an empty egg carton, I created an addition activity for Tigger and Kona. I used two different colors of any small item (buttons, pom poms, plant gems, etc.) and placed some of each color in the separate egg carton areas.  Then they counted all the items to see how many items were in the egg carton altogether. Since Kona and Tigger can write their numbers, I also had them write their answers on paper. (Instead of addition problems for Tahoe, he counted the items in the egg carton.) Besides doing the math activity, discuss the short vowel sounds found in egg carton, buttons, pom poms, and plant gems.

I found some more fun math activities using egg cartons here:


Octagon Search- (All the grands)-Although all the grands have seen octagons many times, I gave them a picture of one and had them find octagons around the house or neighborhood (for example a “Stop” sign is an octagon).

Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)

Independent reading- (All the grands)-Besides the books I get from the library each week specifically for the vowel sound we are studying, there are plenty of books already in the boys’ library that they can enjoy whenever they want. Their parents have made sure they have plenty of picture dictionary books, which Tahoe especially enjoys at his age. He loves to point to the pictures and say the words he knows. The other boys enjoy retelling the story by looking at the pictures, and Tigger likes to find the words he knows (which are usually words with short vowels in the medial position).
Exploration Bins-(All the grands) Using a box or plastic bin, place items that begin with the short vowel sound inside and cover with rice, beans, or macaroni. For example, place plastic eggs, small toy elephant figures, and little Elmo dolls in a bin for the “e” short vowel. The child uses their hands to find the items in the bin. Afterwards, discuss with the child each item and the connection to the short vowel. Ask them which one was their favorite and why they chose that item. For more information on this idea, check out this website:


Short Vowel App-(Tigger and Kona) I downloaded this new app from one of my favorite websites and introduced it to Tigger. He enjoyed it and can use it by himself now. I will be using this with Kona also.


Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

 Finger plays and songs-(All the grands) Wow! There are so many resources to locate songs and finger plays. If you just type in the words “short vowel songs” into a search engine, there will be dozens of songs and fingerplays from which to choose. I have found other songs by typing in the short vowel word (such as “apple”, “octopus” or “umbrella”) when I want to find a song about a particular word. Here are the ones I found recently:

short a: http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/johnny-appleseed.html  or http://www.alphabet-soup.net/dir2/applesong.html

short e: http://www.canteach.ca/elementary/songspoems99.html

short i: http://ccplonline.org/kids/songs4tots/insectsallaround.html

short o: http://www.dltk-teach.com/alphabuddies/songs/o/orangeoctopus.htm

short u: http://www.letsplaykidsmusic.com/the-umbrella-song-rainy-day-songs/

Create your own fingerplays -(All the grands) Just take a familiar fingerplay song and use short vowel words in place of the other nouns. When the grands were babies, I would sing this song to them although I used the noun “Einsteins” in it. Obviously, that word didn’t work when I taught short vowels, so I came up with other words beginning with each short vowel. For example:

“One little, two little, three little otters,

Four little, five little, six little otters,

Seven little, eight little, nine little otters,

Ten little otter pups!”

To take this a step further, I will try to have the grands suggest short vowel words to replace “otter” in this example.

Create your own songs-(All the grands) I like to create my own songs, so I used the tune to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and adapted it for each short vowel sound. Here are the lyrics for the short “a” sound:

“The short vowel “a” goes ah, ah, ah,

ah, ah, ah,

ah, ah, ah,

apples, ants, and alligators,

start with ah, ah, ah.”

I followed the same pattern with the other short vowels. I changed the fourth line in each song as follows:
The short vowel e: “Elmo, eggs, and elephants”
The short vowel i: “igloo, inch, and iguanas”
The short vowel o: “otter, on, and octopus”
The short vowel u: “under, up, and umbrella”


Using multiple intelligence strategies, such as the ones I have put in this unit of study, I have found my grandsons to be very engaged in learning. And because they are doing these activities with their “Mimi”, we are having some very special bonding time. By making sure I use at least one activity from each intelligence, I am increasing the probability that the grands will retain the main points of the lessons.

As for the progress of my grandsons, Tahoe is beginning to recognize some alphabet letters, although his favorite letter of the alphabet right now is “O”. His receptive and expressive vocabulary is rapidly increasing. Kona is doing so well with the short vowel sounds, I have begun working with him on blending one short vowel with one consonant. I am also working with him on the consonant sounds he hasn’t yet mastered, using strategies similar to the ones I used for the short vowels. Tigger is seven weeks into first grade, and he is not having any problems with his reading homework. (I interpret that as a good sign.) I can tell when he reads with me that he is able to sound out words with his short vowels very well. Time for me to plan another unit of study using multiple intelligences.

I hope these ideas have motivated you to think about multiple intelligences when you are planning an activity for the children in your care.


3 responses to “Teaching Short Vowels-The M. I. Way (Conclusion)

  1. […] Teaching Short Vowels-The M. I. Way (Conclusion) […]


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