Vowel Sound Sticks

Jun 23, 2015

Activity for ages 4 to 6

For many kids, the hardest letter sounds to learn are those tricky vowels: A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y. Every word in English has at least one, so tackling them is uber important but, MASTERING them…. well, that can be a long road for some.

These simple vowel sound sticks are a low prep, hands-on and engaging tool for making all of that hard work more fun for kids.The free vowel sound sticks are perfect for guided reading groups or homeschool lessons. Just print your copy {below} and get ready to show those tricky vowel sounds who’s the boss.

Vowel Sound Sticks. What a fun way to help kids learn tricky vowel sounds!Getting Ready

The prep for these vowel sound sticks was as quick and easy as it comes. I printed two copies of the free download {HERE} on cardstock to give it extra durability and then cut apart the cards. {One set was for my 5.5 year old and the other batch was for my 3.5 year old.}

If I was going to use the cards in a classroom, this is the stage when I would have laminated the set but, since, I was using them with my kids at home, I skipped laminating and jumped straight into hot gluing a craft stick to the back of each vowel.
DIY Vowel Sound Sticks

Silly Vowel Song

Once the vowel sound sticks were ready to go, I invited my boys to join me. I placed the cards in ABC order and helped my youngest practice the names of the letters by singing a silly vowel song sung to the tune of BINGO:

“There are some special letters and vowels are their name-o:

A, E, I, O, U.

A, E, I, O, U.

A, E, I, O, U.

A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y.”

Each time I said the name of a vowel, I gently touched the matching vowel stick with my finger so that he could easily see what the letter looked like.

We repeated the song several times together so that he could practice touching the corresponding cards too.

Engaging vowel sound sticks

Vowel Sound Games

Next, we were ready to start working on vowel sounds. The boys were sitting across the table from me so they could easily see my face. I held up one card at a time and said the name of the letter, the word that starts with that letter, and the letter sound 3 times. For instance, with the A card I said,

“A is for apple. /A/ /A/ /A/.”

Hands-on Vowel Sound Sticks!

I had them closely watch my mouth so they could see how wide it was when I made the /A/ sound. Then I had them turn to each other and practice making the sound with their mouths too.

When they were ready, I called out a vowel sound and had them pick up the matching stick. Big Brother {age 5.5} nailed it every time but the practice was trickier for Middle Brother {age 3.5}. So sometimes I’d repeat the sound slowly and go down the line of cards, naming the picture on each one, to find a word that started with the same sound. For example, when he was hung up on the /E/, I said,

“/E/, apple. No, that’s not a match.

/E/, egg. Yes, that’s a match! My mouth stays in the same spot.”

For beginning readers, it’s often helpful to start with just two vowels at a time. The very different sounding /I/ and /O/ are great choices. As kids become better at differentiating, you can slowly add in more sounds until they’re working on all five at once.

With some hands-on practice, kids will be tackling those tricky vowel sounds in a jiffy.


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  1. Elizabeth OBrien

    Hi- there is no button to download these vowel sound sticks. Help!

    • Ashley

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks for reaching out. This is one of our older posts, so the free download is a little harder to find. You can find it under the Getting Ready section.
      It says, “The prep for these vowel sound sticks was as quick and easy as it comes. I printed two copies of the free download {HERE}.” If you click on HERE, it will take you to the free download.
      Let me know if I can be of any further help.
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador


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Hi, I’m Malia.

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