Long Vowel/Short Vowel Poetry May 06 2010

Poetry provides students with a fun and creative way to explore their understanding of the English language. Since Long Vowel/Short Vowel drills can wear out their welcome, it may be time to introduce writing Couplets to your class to practice important spelling pattern and sound skills.

Word Families

As Carol writes about in this previous Long Vowel/Short Vowel post, there are plenty of patterns and word families that need practice and review, and writing Long Vowel/Short Vowel poetry is a great way to provide it. Word Families focus on similar spellings for words that involve particular patterns; a good example is of the syllable -at and the words created with it, such as bat, cat, mat, and that, and other words that occur in these Rhyming Words Puzzles. The initial consonants or blends change but the core of each word stays the same, helping students recognize and pronounce words by pattern instead of by sounding out each letter.

Whatever Word Family your class might be working on, use this opportunity to create Long Vowel/Short Vowel poetry, and focus on rhyming.

Value of Rhyming

Rhymes are inherently repetitive, which is developmentally appropriate for young children. Many of the songs we sing to our babies and toddlers rhyme, such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Itsy Bitsy Spider. Rhyming also indirectly teaches children about vocabulary and the rhythm of language.

The difference between Word Families and Rhyming is that rhymes don't always have to involve similar syllabic spelling. Long Vowel/Short Vowel poetry can begin with Word Families and help your students stretch their understanding about words that sound similar but are spelled differently. A good example is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star:

Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky

The words "star" and "are" rhyme as do "high" and "sky," but the two pairs of words aren't spelled with the same patterns like words in Word Families. This is a good extension for kids who are ready to rhyme outside of Word Families and into patterns of sound instead.


Couplets will put your kids' rhyming skills to good use. Couplets are two lines of poetry that rhyme, made up of about the same number of syllables and have a recognizable rhythm. Sets of couplets are joined together to make longer poems.

Choose two words in the same Word Family and take some time and model writing Couplets with your kids. Give them time to write a Couplet to share with the group, assigning a subject for everyone to work on for a few minutes. Here's one about rain:

Drops on my head tell me there's rain -
Opening my umbrella can be such a pain!

Writing Specific Long Vowel/Short Vowel Couplets

I've found at times that when students begin writing Couplets, they don't give much thought to rhythm. The first set of Couplets written by your students as they explore this style of poetry may need to be reworked for correct rhythm.

To begin, have students pick out the sounds they want to rhyme, starting with a word from a Word Family or moving on to words that sound similar but have different spelling patterns. Figuring out the rhyming words first will help your students figure out the rest of the poem. For example, dug and slug:

In my yard I found a slug
Deep in a hole that he had dug

At this point, it might be fun to challenge students regarding how many Couplets they can make to tell a story. Start with the Couplet above about the slug, and see if groups or individual students can come up with the next part of the poem about the slug in Couplet form. In order for students not to get stuck on the -ug pattern, I might also require that these Couplets must rhyme using a different pattern or sound.

Long Vowel/Short Vowel poetry in the Couplet form is fun and provides additional practice and review of Word Families, patterns, sounds and rhythms of the English language.