Teaching Resource

Vowel Sounds Sort - /i/, /o/, and /u/

PDF, Google Slides | 8 pages|Grades: K, 1 - 1

Practice distinguishing between long and short vowel sounds for letters /i/, /o/ and /u/ by sorting this set of 24 picture cards into categories.

Continue building your students’ reading proficiency by helping them distinguish between long and short vowel sounds.  

With our vowel sounds game, your students will look at picture cards with words that contain short and long sounds for letters /i/, /o/, and /u/. Reading the card out loud, students will distinguish the sound of the vowel, and categorize it with the matching word mat that shares the same sound (e.g. long /i/card = fire). 

How to Play Our Vowel Sounds Game for Letters /i/, /o/, and /u/

This resource can be used as a reading center game for independent practice distinguishing between long and short vowel sounds. It can also be used with your guided reading group.

To play, students sort the picture cards with their matching vowel sound mat.

As a 2-player game, shuffle the picture cards and split them equally between players. Students then take turns placing one of their cards on the word mat that shares the same vowel sound. 

Get More Out of Our Vowel Sounds Game 

There’s more than one way to use these sorting cards in your classroom! Check out a few ideas to take this Long and Short Vowel Sort even further. 

Memory Match

Bonus points for this version of the game as it helps students with their memorization skills! As a game for 2 players, students will shuffle the picture cards and lay them all face down. Each player takes their turn flipping 2 cards at a time until either finds 2 words with the same vowel sound (e.g., short u picture cards = bus, sun), and sets the pair aside to keep score. 

Scoot Activity

Place each of the 24 picture cards around the room. Ask students to stand up with a blank sheet of paper numbered 1-24 to use as a recording sheet. Assign one card to each student (or pair) to start, having them rotate through each of the cards to write on their recording sheet whether the word in the picture contains a:

  • Long i
  • Short i
  • Long o
  • Short o
  • Long u
  • Short u

(NOTE: We suggest printing a second set of cards for this activity that you can number.)

Warm-Up/Exit Game

This activity can be done to recap the previous day’s vowel lesson, or just after it as a formative assessment. Pull 6 cards, one for each long and short /i/, /o/, and /u/ vowel sound, and project them on the board for the whole class to see. On a sticky note or sheet of paper, direct students to write the 2 words that have the /i/ sounds, 2 words that have the /o/ sounds, and 2 words that have the /u/ sounds. 

To scaffold this activity for kindergarten students, show only the short vowel CVC words or known sight words

Change the Difficulty Level if Needed

Fast finishers can take this activity further after sorting the picture cards by putting them in alphabetical order. You can also have students sort the picture cards by the number of syllables in each word. 

If you have students struggling with vowel sounds, invite them to use a visual reminder of the letter sounds such as an alphabet chart or desk plate.

Easily Prepare This Resource for Your Students

Print on cardstock for added durability and longevity. Place all game parts in a folder or large envelope. 

Before You Download

Use the drop-down icon on the Download button to choose between the PDF or Google Slides version of this resource. An answer key is also included with this download.

This resource was created by Lindsey Phillips, a teacher in Michigan and a Teach Starter Collaborator. 

We’ve got more vowel activities where that came from! Check out these teacher and student-approved phonological awareness resources: 


  Common Core Curriculum alignment

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