Reading Skills: Gong Show (Vowel Sound Buzz In)

Quick Vowel Recognition

One of the biggest challenges when learning to read and spell, is learning about the vowel sounds we use in English. While there are only 5 vowel letters (a, e, i, o, u; 6 letters if you include y), there are 21 vowel sounds in Australian English, 20 vowel sounds in British English and 16 vowels sounds in American English! And, as if it couldn’t get any more complicated, there are at least 60 different ways to spell all of those vowel sounds!!!!!

So… first things first: Your child MUST be able to hear the vowel sound in a word accurately. Only then will they have any chance of learning the corresponding spelling so they can learn to read.

Set Up & Game Play

gong-show-1024x1024 Play this game as if you are all on a TV game show.

Set up your game show so the contestants are sitting at a table or at the kitchen bench with their noise makers at the ready.
As compere, introduce each contestant and provide an interesting personal fact about them – just like on TV.  Select  a vowel sound and word list from the Gong Show Word List provided.
As the animated compere of the game, announce that: “The Secret Sound for this round is ‘EEEE’!” Then proceed to randomly call out (with a dramatic flourish!) words from the list – e.g. “top, tape, foot, feet, fight”. The first person to ‘buzz in’ when you said “feet” scores a point.


  1. Even though your child may be able to hear the vowel sound (e.g. “EEEE”) when you say it by itself, it can be difficult to recognise the sound when it is in a word. To make it easier, just provide two words at a time (e.g. “foot, feet”) and exaggerate the vowel sounds in the middle when you say the words.
  2. Older children can suggest a spelling for the vowel sound in order to score a point.
  3. Instead of using noise makers, children have to perform an action in order to ‘buzz in’ – e.g. jump, hop, clap, sit down / stand up.

Also Works On: Memory, Attention & Listening, Following Directions, Speaking Skills, Balance & Coordination (if actions are used instead of noise makers).


Activity Materials


You Will Need...

  • Each player will need a different noise maker so they can ‘buzz in’ when they here the target vowel. You can use kitchen utensils, musical instruments, party whistles – anything handy that makes a quick sound