After your student learns short a words, he’ll need to focus on short i words. It’s tempting to jump to short e lessons, because we typically say vowels in the following order: a, e, i, o, u. However, if you’re working with the 30% of children that struggle with reading, you’ll need to be a bit more methodical.
Skip short e words like “pet.” Many children struggle to pronounce the “eeee” as in “elephant” sound. Focus on “iiii” as in “igloo,” a sound that is a lot easier for young kids to say. I teach short e words last, after the child has mastered all other short vowels.
Short i lessons are an important step toward independent reading. When you teach short i, you begin varying the middle sound. Before, the student expected to say “aaaa” as in apple every time, but now he must decide to say /i/ or /a/. For the first time in reading, the child is working hard to decode every single sound.
Short i Words
bit, lid, him, rid, fit, dip, kin, Jim, lip, rim, bill, nip, fill, Tim, dim, fin, hip, win, pin, bid, mill, miss, bin, tin, pit
Short i Poem
Explicit phonics instruction works best. Don’t expect kids to “just get it.” Instead, deliberately say each new sound. Use a phonics sound chart. Say, “We’re learning a new sound today. Let’s read a poem to find out what it is.”
You can introduce short i with a poem, song or sentence. Here’s a sample short i poem you can use:
Jim and Jill had a pig, Tim
And Tim did not like his pit.
“Iiiiick. I will not sit in this pit,” said Tim.
So ran in the house.
Dug a pit in the couch
And Jim and Jill had a fit.
Read the poem out loud to the student 2xs. On the first reading, read at a natural pace.
BEFORE the second reading say, “Now let’s find the new sound. What sound is repeated?” When you read the short i poem the second time, stretch out the middle short i sound:
Jiiiim and Jiiiil had a piiiig named Tiiiim.
Use a Hand Motion for Short i Words
Make up a fun hand motion for short i. Here are some ideas:
i_ as in igloo Hold your hand over the table in the shape of an igloo.
i_ as in itch Itch your arm.
Only use Hand Motions for Short Vowels
Don’t create hand motions for every letter—this will overwhelm your student! Only create hand motions for short vowels.