Vowel sounds (A, E, I, O and U) are often the most difficult for children to master. These hands-on puzzles and word cards give kids plenty of practice sounding out short CVC words and identifying the missing middle vowel sound.

They’re great to use as literacy centers, guided reading activities or word family games with new readers.  For more vowel work, snag our Vowel Team Centers in our shop!

Middle Vowel Word Cards

After reviewing the vowel sounds with my students, I pulled out the stack of word cards and placed the vowel letter tiles next to it.

Note: The cards also work well with magnetic letters if you’d prefer to use them over the cards.

I grabbed a word card and placed it on the table. Each word card has two pictures that share the same initial and final sound. This one said “b__d.”

I pointed to the first picture and asked kids what it showed. “Bed!” they all called out at once.

I stretched the word out slowly as I pointed underneath each letter on the mat, “/b/ (pointing to the b) /e/ (pointing to the blank line) /d/ (pointing to the d). What letter makes that middle /e/ sound? Hmmm….” I asked.

Several hands shot up in the air. I wanted to show the kids the entire process before revealing the answer, so I grabbed the “i” first and placed it in the middle box. I sounded out the word I had built: “bid.”

Everyone agreed that didn’t match the picture, so we tried the “u” next. “Bud” wasn’t right either, so we tried :”e”. The class cheered as we stretched out the word “bed.” It was a match!

After working through two more examples as a class, I invited the children to complete the rest of the activity in pairs.

Medial Vowels Mats - Playdough To Plato

Middle Vowel Puzzles

I wanted to review vowels in words again so, later that week, I grabbed a batch of vowel puzzles.

The aim was to match the pictures that share the same initial and final sound, but have different middle vowels.

We grabbed our first card “c__t” and sounded it out: “/c/ ___ /t/.” I asked the children to help me brainstorm words that started with /c/ and ended with /t/.

Then, we searched our stash of puzzle pieces to find two words that would fit: cat and cut. We over-emphasized the middle vowel sound in each word as we slid the pieces in place.

Medial Vowels Puzzles - Playdough To Plato

The kids caught on to the activity quickly and were soon ready to solve the rest of the puzzles on their own.

Grab Your Copy

Ready to grab your free medial vowel activities? Click the blue download button below and then hop over and grab our Vowel Team Centers in our shop, too!

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  1. Hello. This printable looks great! I am having trouble seeing the letters when I download. There are pictures but no letters.


    1. Hi Kristina
      That’s curious, I’ve just downloaded it and the letters appear on my PDF. I have just uploaded a revised file, so maybe try downloading it again and hopefully they will appear this time!

      1. That did it! Thank you! They look great and I love them 🙂

  2. Thank you so very much! Your amazing resources are awesome and FREE!

  3. Thank you very much. I’m a 2nd Grade teacher and a mom. I think these materials are very helpful.

    1. Hooray Marissa! I am so happy to hear that! We are here because of folks like you!
      Stay inspired!

      1. Thanks this is a great resource to reinforce short vowels. I use it for both enrichment and as informal assessment.

        1. Wonderful! Hope your students enjoy it as well 🙂
          Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

    1. Welcome! I hope you find hours of fun and inspiration!
      Kimberleigh // Happiness Ambassador

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