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Short Vowel or Long Vowel? Name a word from a word family and have students tell whether it contains a short vowel or a long vowel sound. For a quick way to see which students “get it” and which may need more practice in discriminating between vowel sounds, have students give their responses silently by using hand signals. To do this, they simply show a fist if the word has a short vowel and show an open hand—with fingers pressed together as in making the sign for “stop”—if the word has a long vowel. As you come up with words to name, be sure to include some that contain blends and digraphs!