Short Vowel Sounds List


When your child first starts to read, they will read short vowel words. Use this sound vowel sounds list to get your child reading.

For a lot of parents, hearing all the teachers’ reading lingo can overwhelming. Especially when it comes to vowels.

You want your child to be able to read, but you need to learn this information first. None of us were taught this in school!

When parents as me how to teach phonics step-by-step, I tell them to start with short vowel words after letter sounds.

So let’s break down what a short vowel is. Then grab a free short vowel sounds list of words.  Use this information and the words to get your child started with reading.

A purple rectangle at the bottom of the image say Short Vowel Word List in black and white font. There is a clipboard on a brown spiral notebook on a wooden surface. A printable for short vowel words is on the clipboard

5 Short Vowel Sounds List

These are the five short vowel sounds:

  • /a/ like apple or cat
  • /e/ like elephant or hen
  • /i/ like igloo or fish
  • /o/ like octopus or hog
  • /u/ like umbrella or pup

Please note that the slashes represent the sound –  not the name.

Short Vowel Sounds

Now you’re probably wondering, “What are short vowel sounds?” Short vowel sounds are the ones you associate with the letters of the alphabet.

They are the sounds most commonly associated with the letters a, e, i, o, and u.  Long vowel sounds are the ones that sound like the letter’s name.

two short vowel printables on a gray wooden background. They have phonics sounds and words with the short vowel sounds. Clip art apple, eleplant, igloo, octopus, and umbrella are on the free printables.

Short Vowel Words List

So now that you know the short vowel sounds, you need some examples of short vowel words.

I put together a free short vowel words list with 100 short vowel words. The list is sorted by sounds.

Each sound starts with two-letter words  – except short e. Then there are CVC words with short vowel sounds.

Next there are words with consonant blends, consonant digraphs, and some spelling generalizations like the FLOSS rule.

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short a sounds words on a green background. Graphic includes clip art apple and a list of short a words.

Short A Words List

This list of words features short a sound and moves from two sounds to five sounds:

  • at
  • an
  • as
  • am
  • bad
  • cab
  • had
  • jam
  • rag
  • tap
  • and
  • back
  • bran
  • last
  • snap
  • grand
  • dash
  • that
  • wham
  • chat

short e sounds words on a light red background. Graphic includes clip art elephant and a list of short e words.

Short E Words List

Use this short e words list to help your child learn the short vowel sound /e/:

  • bet
  • fed
  • jet
  • men
  • yes
  • led
  • set
  • ten
  • web
  • yet
  • best
  • elf
  • help
  • bled
  • fell
  • went
  • dress
  • when
  • shed
  • them

There are no two-letter words with short e.

Short i Words List

This list of short i words will help your child gain confidence with the sound /i/:

  • in
  • it
  • is
  • big
  • did
  • fin
  • gig
  • his
  • rip
  • mix
  • zip
  • drip
  • slim
  • gift
  • milk
  • stick
  • blimp
  • thin
  • which
  • dish

The sounds /e/ and /i/ can be difficult for children to distinguish from each other. I usually try to teach them a few weeks apart.

Short O Words List

You can use these short o words to practice reading with your child. Start with the ones with two or three sounds.

  • on
  • ox
  • box
  • cob
  • dot
  • fog
  • mom
  • not
  • rot
  • sob
  • top
  • flop
  • spot
  • dock
  • pond
  • stomp
  • flock
  • chop
  • shot
  • shock

Short U Words List

The short u sound tends to be easier for children to hear than /e/ or /i/. You can practice these before /e/ or /i/.

  • up
  • us
  • bud
  • cup
  • gum
  • hut
  • mud
  • pup
  • run
  • tub
  • dug
  • buff
  • plus
  • snug
  • bump
  • tuck
  • brush
  • stump
  • clutch
  • brunch

How to Teach Short Vowel Sounds

Like all sounds, I use flashcards.  I say the sound first and have my students repeat it.

Then I show them the flashcard with the letter on it. We say the name and the sound: “A, /a/.”

Once your child is familiar with the sounds, you can have them start spelling and reading words with the vowel.

Sound spelling mapping (also known as word mapping) is great for building knowledge of short vowel sounds.

Need more help with learning sounds? This is part of what I teach parents (and a few teachers!) in Sounds School.

Short Vowel Sounds Chart

You can also use this free short vowel sounds chart to teach your child the sounds.  It’s also a good reference to hang up as they are learning to spell the sounds, too.

You can use the short vowel sounds list to practice hearing sounds. Just read a word and ask your child to point to the short vowel sound they hear in the word.

Use the short vowel sounds chart to review the sounds with your child. You can develop a chant like “a, apple, /a/.” When your child can say the names of the sounds automatically, you will know they have mastered the short vowel sounds!

Resources for Short Vowel Sounds

Most of these resources focus on CVC words. This allows your child to really pay attention to the short vowel sounds.

CVC Words Hands-on Word Building

These little CVC Words Hands-On Mats create big results.  This is an interactive activity where you’ll help your child focus on sounds.

Use this process:

  • Say the word aloud to your child.
  • Tell your child to repeat.
  • Your child says the word.
  • Show your child how to break apart the words into sounds.
  • Tap the black dots.
  • Use letter magnets or beads for each letter.
  • Ask your child to decode and read the word.

Most children are going to feel like this is a game – not a chore.  The CVC Words Hands-On Mats are available here or find the CVC Word Mats on Teachers Pay Teachers.

CVC Word Ladder Worksheets

The CVC Word Ladder Worksheets bring your child’s attention to short vowels. As they change one sound in each word, their understanding of sounds-t0-symbols improves.

These simple worksheets pack in some powerful learning. Find the CVC Word Ladder Worksheets in the shop or find the CVC Word Chain Worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Word Mapping Activity

The popular resource Phonics Word Mapping Activity can help your child learn short vowels. It draws their attention to sounds first, instead of letters first.

This activity includes other vowels besides short vowels, too. So your child will grow into more advanced skills over time.

There are over 432 picture cards sorted by phonics skill. There are answer keys, too, so no guessing!

Grab the Phonics Word Mapping Activity in the Printable Parents’ Shop or find this Word Mapping Activity on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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