I've started teaching vowels with the help of the American Sign Language hand symbols for a, e, i, o, and u. My students have learned the hand symbols to represent the long vowel sounds, and the picture words for the short vowel sounds (a-apple, e-elephant, i-in, o-October, u-umbrella). I prefer to teach the five vowels together so students start recognizing them as group early on. The hand symbols and picture words help with practicing and talking about the sounds, which can be hard for English Language Learners to distinguish. Once students can identify vowels and both their long and short vowel sounds, they are ready to learn strategies for sounding out one syllable words and multisyllable words. Find more ideas for teaching vowels and other reading skills in the Teacher's Activity Guide for abc English: Book One.
What tricks do you use for teaching about vowels and vowel sounds?