Teaching Long and Short Vowels with Kindergarten and 1st Grade Anchor Charts

If you’re looking for fresh new ways to teach those pesky vowel sounds to your K-1 students, you’re in the right place! Spoiler alert: I have short vowel anchor charts and long vowel anchor charts that I’m giving you for free! 

At the end of this post, you’ll have a full toolkit to teach your students using long and short vowel anchor charts like the phonics pro you are.

But first, let’s help your students distinguish between short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds!

Before we can introduce long vowels, your kiddos need to master the short vowel sounds. Begin by practicing with CVC words, one vowel at a time, using methods like visual flashcards, hands-on worksheets, and my personal favorite, anchor charts!

Breaking Out Short Vowel Anchor Charts in the Beginning

Anchor charts are so useful because they create impactful learning experiences for visual, auditory, verbal, and kinesthetic learners! All of the bases for your little learners are covered.

Introduce one vowel at a time, and use these anchor charts as part of your daily morning meeting. Once your students master one sound, move on to the next! 

Practice pointing out short vowel letters in words, modeling the sounds together, and blending words. Make your students part of the fun by allowing them to lead your vowel sessions, with you on standby for guidance.

Once they’ve reached short vowel mastery, they’ll be ready to take it to the next level a.k.a. long vowel sounds.

Using Long Vowel Anchor Charts as a Tool to Identify Patterns

Patterns are the foundation of reading and are exceptionally useful in learning long vowel sounds. The great part about doing pattern exercises is that your students don’t need to read the full word just yet. Phew! The goal here is to get them used to pointing out long vowel sounds.

Review long vowel anchor charts during morning meetings. Your morning meeting leader can point out patterns in words such as “ae” or “ee.” 

Other ideas to kickstart their pattern recognition are:

  1. Practicing word families with picture cards or cut-and-paste sorting activities.
  2. Spotting the long vowel sounds by dotting the letters in words on worksheets or playing vowel sounds Bingo!

Be prepared because once you teach your students to identify patterns, they’ll begin seeing them and calling them out everywhere! 

Modeling Decoding Using Long Vowel Anchor Charts

Once your students are total pattern pros, which will happen overnight, you can move on to decoding. 

You already know your students are little sponges. So, like any math or STEM concept you teach, your go-to teaching strategy with vowels is modeling.

“When two vowels go walking, the first vowel does the talking” is a go-to rule for teaching your students how to decode long vowel sounds. This means that the first vowel in long sounds says it’s name! Use this phrase repeatedly and remind your students of it often.

Here’s a helpful guiding flow to model long vowel decoding: 

  1. Point to the word on your long vowel anchor chart. 
  1. Have your students find the long vowel pattern by pointing to it. They’re already so good at this! 
  1. Talk about the pattern. What two letters do they see? 
  1. Model the sound that the letters make and have them chime in!

Example > /ea/ says “ee”.

  1. Model blending the word.

Example: You’ll model MEAT like this >  /m/…/ea/…/t/

  1. Ask your students to blend the word, then say it as a whole.

Example > /m/…/ea/…/t/ MEAT

Building Your Vowel Toolkit

Now that you have a stockpile of ideas to teach your students vowel sounds using anchor charts, it’s time to get started! 

Download these free long e and short o anchor charts to use in your classroom today! There are full-size charts that are great with the group and mini charts to make small group instruction a breeze.