When two vowels go walking…

When two vowels go walking …

It is more than a little helpful to have a handy set of flash cards ready to prompt younger learners and give them reading cues. When learning about “vowel pairs”, for example, cue cards like these are colourful and attractive:

As the time-honoured reading prompt goes: “When two vowels go walking, the first does the talking …” Then, feeling smug with your handy flash cards, you help the child out with the picture provided: “oa” makes “coat.”

To my surprise, the most effective set of flash cards that I have used with my Gr. 1 student is one that she created herself. When I uttered the phrase “when two vowels go walking …” she immediately drew some minuscule legs on a couple of little vowels:


Note that the first attempt had a minor error: the order of the vowels. I urged her to reconsider: the first does the talking. She re-arranged accordingly and proceeded to create different vowel pairs “meeting” each other. The following results were stupendous:


The student rapidly became familiar with which vowels formed which pairs. The truth is, the effectiveness of these homemade flash cards should not have come as a surprise to me. Involving the child in the learning process is essential to developing their ability to retain the concepts and apply them.




The Magic Begins


When I was first learning how to read, my parents would read a chapter of Harry Potter to me each night before bed. The story was so compelling that I would always be left dying to find out what would happen next. When my parents would not indulge my pleas for just one more chapter (after already having read more than one that night), I started trying to read it myself. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop, and I devoured each book as soon as I got ahold of it. These novels inspired a passion for reading that has lasted my whole life.


When I reread the series a few years ago, my respect for J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece was renewed. In addition to being an amazing story, the series includes strong messages about the importance of friendship, justice, acceptance, and appreciating others for their differences. Currently, I am reading Harry Potter with two of my students, and will be starting with a third next week.


The first just told me how much more fun his lessons have been since we incorporated Harry Potter. The second keeps reading after our lessons as he waits to get picked up. The third will be starting Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone once he finishes the book he is currently reading, and he asks each time how much longer he has to wait. It is always exciting for me when students enjoy learning, and especially so when I get to share with them something that I love.


The world of Harry Potter is so elaborate and magical that it excites the imagination of readers. I see this happen with my students as they enthusiastically race through each page. The series was instrumental in helping me learn and love to read, and I hope that it can play a similar role for my students.