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.  This vowel activity is here to help!

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.  For more vowel fun, check out our Vowel Team Centers in our shop!

Getting Ready

The prep for these vowel sound activity sticks was as quick and easy as it comes. I printed two copies of the free download 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 activity 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.  This vowel song was the perfect accompaniment to the vowel sound activity.

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 with this vowel sound activity!

Grab your FREE download by clicking the navy link below!

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On the hunt for some more rockin’ vowel activities?!  Head to our shop and grab our Vowel Team Centers!

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

    1. 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

  2. Hi! Im getting a black image behind the apple for the short vowel a. Any idea why that happens? the preview shows otherwise but the printout has a dark image.

    1. Hi Toni,
      Thank you so much for reaching out. I am sorry you are having trouble printing. We never want that.
      Here are a few tips:
      Please make sure you have the most recent version of Adobe Reader Other, it is free and is the only reader that will ensure that our products and freebies download and print correctly.
      It is also important that you are trying to print from a desktop or laptop and not a mobile device as that sometimes causes this issue.
      You want to Finally, if you’re on a Mac, you can try using the “Print As Image” option.
      Let me know if I can be of any further help.
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

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