By Mikee Mapalo
Fun facts: Every word has at least one vowel, as does every syllable. (In fact, that’s the definition of a syllable: a word segment with a vowel sound!)
Yet vowels are among the trickiest letters for kids learning to read, write, and spell. Every vowel can make a “short” sound, like A in cap, and a “long” sound, like A in cape. What’s more, they make different sounds when they’re doubled or combined with other vowels. Whew!
Mastering all this takes practice, and as we know, practice with kids is best accomplished through play. So, if you want to teach vowels at home the fun way, try using our pumpkin vowel clip-cards with your child.
This free, autumn-themed printable consists of ten seasonal word cards with missing vowel letters and five pumpkin-shaped vowel cards. You can use it to introduce vowels and their sounds to your child, as well as to practice reading and spelling words with different vowels and vowel combinations. Have fun!
- Cardstock paper (5 pieces)
- Clothespins (5)
Step 1: Begin by printing out the free pumpkin vowel clip-cards template on five pieces of cardstock. Cardstock is better for clip cards than regular paper, since it’s sturdier.
Tip: If you don’t have cardstock, print on normal paper and then carefully glue the cards onto cardboard from a shipping box or old cereal box.
Step 2: Next, you have to cut out the template. Cut out the cards, along with the pumpkin-shaped vowels. If it’s tricky to cut out the pumpkins, just cut out a circle around each.
Step 3: After cutting out the template, glue each pumpkin-shaped vowel onto a clothespin and let dry.
Activity: If your child is already familiar with vowels and their sounds, this is a good moment to review those together before proceeding.
If you’re just starting to introduce vowels and their sounds to your child, stop here and use the clothespins alone. You can show them each letter and demonstrate its sounds. Then repeat a vowel sound and let them pick which clothespin corresponds to the sound.
Remember, this is tricky! Stay patient and work for short lengths of time according to your child’s attention span.
How to Play
Now it’s time to clip the missing vowel letters onto the word cards! Help your child identify the picture, and then help them find the right letter(s) to clip over the blanks. Give them a chance to figure each out for themselves, but don’t hesitate to work with them as needed. After all, the goal here is for them to learn, not to get frustrated.
Tip: If you like, you can demonstrate a process of elimination as you play. For example, try clipping on the wrong vowels and reading them out, until you come to the one that works: “Let’s try an E here. Epple. Does that sound right? No? Let’s try U instead.”
We hope this easy-to-make educational tool to teach vowels is a fun addition to your family’s literacy journey toolkit. You can also make your own word cards to add more words to spell with your pumpkin clips—or invite your child to draw and write their own words on index cards to play with. You can group the cards into easy, moderate, and hard-to-spell words and return to them again and again. Enjoy using our free printable and let us know how your learning session went.
We’d love to see how your craft turned out! Feel free to connect with us on social media to share some pictures.
Mikee Mapalo is a clinical psychology graduate student who loves graphic designing and creating arts and crafts content for kids. Find her at thepositivitycure.com. *Photos by Mikee Mapalo