In the Vowel Hospital,
Kindergarten Students Practice Surgery On the
Heart of Words
To be a successful surgeon requires a wide knowledge of anatomy and the fine motor skills for delicate operations. To be successful at reading, writing, and spelling requires basic knowledge of language as well as the skills to parse the alphabet symbols to form words. Those who study the English language know that, generally speaking, vowels are the heart of words. Without a vowel, it is not considered a word.
Studying about the importance of vowels, Mrs. Jeannette Georges’ Cherry Avenue Kindergarten students have been learning the basic anatomy of English words, practicing on consonant-vowel-consonant words as they prepared for a special activity—the Vowel Hospital. “My kindergarten students will be dressed as surgeons with masks, hats, lab coats, and gloves,” Mrs. Georges shared with delighted anticipation, “and will demonstrate their abilities at spelling c-v-c words. Each student will be in charge of a patient’s chart and will need to find a missing vowel. The classroom will be set up like a hospital!”
On the day of the Vowel Hospital activity, Room 102 was transformed into an Operating Theatre for the eager students who were prepped and ready to perform ‘heart’ transplants with the vowels. Each work table was set up with a stainless steel surgical tray that contained cardboard squares of the vowels that they would use to complete the c-v-c words during surgery. Also, as a centerpiece on each work table was a specific “patient” complete with red-colored ‘blood’ packs marked as positive and negative types A, B, O. Projected on the SmartBoard at the front of the classroom were the common vowels, A,E, I, O, U for the “surgeons” to use as a reference.
Like many operating rooms, the surgeons conferred with their colleagues amid a buzz of “professional” chatter, while the Head of Surgery, “Dr.” Georges offered encouragement and reminders. During the procedures, invited guests Principal Dr. Lisa Ihne and Mrs. Geraldine Batterberry observed as the well-prepared “doctors” focused on each patient and identified which vowels were missing from the set of six consonant-vowel-consonant words in that patient’s chart.
To make things exciting, the surgeons maneuvered tweezers to pick up the vowel and place it in the c-v-c word on the patient’s chart. “We used rubber tweezers, gloves, lab coats, and hats,” Mrs. Georges explained. “ We didn’t want to get any vowel blood on us. Each kinder-doctor matched the vowel and fixed the word. Later, they wrote their findings on their ‘Patient Chart!’ The students used their tapping out strategies and picture clues to help identify the missing vowels.”
While the good news is that all the patients survived the day in surgery, the best news is that all the kinder-docs were tremendously entertained by the activity, thanks to the energizing enthusiasm and creativity of their teacher Mrs. Georges, as assisted by SRP Mrs. Roseann Delaney. Most importantly, it was a lesson these Kindergarteners will not soon forget.
Who knows? It may have inspired future surgeons, too!