A coworker of mine shared this with me when I first started teaching first grade and I must say it has been one of the most effective tools I use when teaching the long and short vowel sounds. My students want to hear the story over and over and when we get a new student, one of the first things they want me to do is share the Grandmother Vowel story with our newbie. I take the posters off the wall and introduce each of my grandchildren as I tell the story. (These posters are old and if someone takes the time to make some cutesy, updated pictures, I sure would like a copy) My students refer to these alot during the first half of the year.
My granddaughter ā is just a baby and I have a large apple tree on my farm. It is filled with bright red apples and ā just loves apples. When she wants an apple, she points up to the apple tree and says "ă, ă, ă," until she gets one. So after the first time she did that, I started calling her ă for short. Her real name is ā, but I call her ă.
My grandson ē is full of mischief and he likes to pretend that he cannot hear me when I call him for supper. He puts his little hand up to his ear and says "ĕ, ĕ, ĕ" like he can't hear me. So, now I call him ĕ for short. His real name is ē, but I call him ĕ.
My grandson ī loves to play indian when he comes to my house because I let him make all the noise he wants to. He puts his hand behind his head with one finger sticking up like a feather and goes around yelling "ĭ, ĭ, ĭ" as loud as he can. He even scares my cows and chickens when he does this. So even though his real name is ī , I call him ĭ for short.
I love to bake cookies when my grandson ō comes to my house because he loves to eat my cookies! When he smells the odor of my baking cookies, he rubs his stomach in a circular motion (like in the shape of an o) and he says "ŏ, ŏ grandma, you're cooking my favorite cookies". His real name is ō but for short I call him ŏ.
My grandson ū is old enough to do chores on the farm when he comes to visit. I always pay him a little bit of money for doing little chores for me. One time when he visited, he made $2 for gathering eggs. He took that money to the store and bought candy and ate every bit of it right there! When he was finished, he grabbed his tummy and he said "ŭ, ŭ, ŭ, my tummy hurts." So now I call him ŭ for short. His real name is ū and his short name is ŭ.
(When finished with the story, I go back through the posters saying the real names and then I have the students do the hand motions and say the short sounds with me. By hand motions, I mean what each of the grandchildren did in the story -
A points high up to the tree and says her short sound
E holds his hand up to his ear and says his short sound
I puts his hand behind head with one finger sticking up like a feather and says his short sound
O rubs his stomach in a circular motion and says his short sound
U holds his tummy like it hurts and says his short sound)