Lesson plan

Animal Vowels

Have some fun sorting out short vowels in this animal-filled lesson!
Need extra help for EL students? Try the More Vowels pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the More Vowels pre-lesson.

Students will be able to identify the short "a," "e," and "o" vowel sounds in words.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Call students together.
  • Secretly hand every student either a cow, sheep, or goat picture. Instruct students not to show other students what animal they were assigned.
  • Tell students to close their eyes. Instruct students to find the other students with the same animal without opening their eyes. In order to do this, they will make the noise their animal makes (either "moo," "baa," or "mehh"). Have students move around the room until they are in their new groupings.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to think about the sound their animal makes. What consonant sound is at the beginning? What vowel sound do they hear in it?
  • Explain to students that the sounds these animals make include short vowel sounds. Have students make their animal noises again as they try to really draw out the vowel sound.
  • Tell students that today they will be sorting objects by the short vowel sound each one makes.
(5 minutes)
  • Post the lowercase letters "a," "e," and "o" on the wall. Have students practice making the short vowel sounds associated with these letters.
  • Show students the stack of pictures to be sorted. Demonstrate saying the name of the object, listening to the short vowel sound in the name, and then comparing it to the short vowel sounds the letters make.
  • Repeat several times as necessary to ensure that students understand what is expected. Explain that students will complete this activity as their animal groupings. Everyone in the group will need to agree on the vowel sound they hear before the picture can be posted on the wall under the appropriate letter (if groupings are too large, animal groups can be divided in half).
(10 minutes)
  • While students are working, any adults in the room should be listening and taking note of student contributions, any areas of student confusion, etc.
  • When students believe that they have sorted out all of the animals, they should make sure that they agree with the work done by the other groups.


  • Working with carefully selected partners can help to scaffold this activity. (For example, English learners may benefit from being partnered with a native language speaker of their language who can help to translate some of the object names.)
  • Having students focus only on one vowel sound at a time and limiting the number of pictures can also help to simplify this lesson.


  • For students needing a greater challenge, include pictures using short vowels not being posted or long vowel sounds.
(5 minutes)
  • Adults should take anecdotal notes about student comments, group work, and contributions throughout the lesson. These can be used to make determinations about what students know and the direction of future lessons.
  • Student accuracy in identifying and sorting objects by short vowel sounds can be used to determine the success of meeting this lesson’s objections.
(10 minutes)
  • Call students back together.
  • Ask students to share about their experiences. Were any words difficult? What words were easiest? Did groups ever disagree? How were disagreements handled?
  • Have student volunteers help to review all of the objects and short vowel sounds that have been posted. Ensure that everything is in the right category.
  • If time allows, have students draw a picture of something else they would like to add to the short vowel sort.

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