Vowel Surgery


What a day. The best comment I got was, “That was SO hard but SO fun.”

Bingo….nailed it on the head. That was the point sir 🙂 You can do as much or as little as you want with this post. I tend to take things a little bit beyond where they probably should go when I get an idea…

Welcome to Hall Hospital! In order to do this effectively…you have to be a bit of a drama queen. During lunch today, I transformed our classroom in to a pretend hospital. We are learning all about community helpers this week so why not be community helpers ourselves?

I borrowed a set of scrubs, put on the same “doctor” hat my kids wore, and my parents found me a lab coat and got it embroidered when they heard about vowel surgery. The note said, “We want everyone to be prepared for surgery.” <3 Seriously…my parents rock.


While the little doctors were at lunch, a parent volunteer and I got the room set up. If you have parent volunteers at your school, ask them for help! If you don’t have the best parent involvement, find a team-mate to do this with.

We made doctor coats out of men’s t-shirts. All you have to do is cut it down the middle and add a red cross symbol and you’ve got a make-shift doctor’s coat!


For the doctor hats, we used a sentence strip and a silver circle.


To make things even more exciting, we used procedure masks, rubber tweezers and gloves. We didn’t want to get any vowel blood on us! 🙂



Here are some pictures of how we set-up the room. I covered the tables with white butcher paper. Then, we got some cheap silver platters to put the letters on to make it look a little more surgical. We set up the “bags of blood” throughout the room.




The “bags of blood” are baggies filled with red food coloring and water. We used binder hooks to hang them from drying racks. My amazing parent volunteer that works in the medical field came up with this…I had no idea where to even start with the blood idea!


Over each table was a sick patient that matched the patient charts. They were hanging above each table. I had five different “patients” and under each patient was a set of six CVC words that were missing their vowels. In the tray in the middle were all of the vowels. They had to use their tweezers to pick up the vowels and place it in the CVC word.


After lunch, I ran down to the cafeteria armed with their doctor coats, procedure masks, and rubber gloves. I, very dramatically, pulled them out of lunch and told them we had a BIG problem. There were words in our room that were very sick and needed our help! It was up to them to get the words back to normal and they had to perform vowel surgery. They all got suited up and partnered up. I had them match up with their literacy station buddies because I knew that those partners were equally paired academically.


Each student got their own “patient chart”. In each folder there were five charts. Five patients so five charts…catch my drift?



Here I am explaining what they are going to do. They are going to go with their doctor partners around the room and complete each chart. I assigned them their first patient but then after that they could move around freely. They just had to be sure that they completed all of their charts for each patient.


And off they went.


Everyone had to refer to everyone as Dr.

Which they thought was the funniest thing ever.



Talk about some fantastic fine motor work…loved those tweezers!




And that was it! You could feel the light bulb moments happen one right after the other. They were working SO hard to make sure that they had the right vowel. They were talking to each other about letters that did and didn’t work. They were tapping out the sounds that they heard. They were discussing it with each other because we talked about how doctors have to agree with each other on a solution to a problem {a sick person}.

They started to really get in to it and started pretending that letters were getting a higher temperature or starting to not look so well. One of the “doctors” would announce that the “u” was going downhill fast and we all needed to hurry up and find a CVC word that was missing a “u”. They totally took it on themselves to act that out. I’m thinking because they saw me take my roll as Dr. Hall to the full effect, they didn’t want to miss out.


We also played this heart rate monitor sound effect in the background during surgery.


We made our doctor kit snacks and used the white butcher paper on the tables for some free draw at the end of the day. I couldn’t let all of that paper just go to waste so we wrote some of sight words and colored pictures while we ate and had free choice.



I got the idea for this idea from Kim Bearden from RCA while reading Crash Course this summer. She did an emergency room set-up with her students. I reallllyyyy wanted to find a way to do this with Kindergartners so this was my take on it. You can do whatever you want with these ideas and run with it because that’s exactly what I did! It was an exhausting but incredibly worth it day. I feel like my students took more away from this than anything else we’ve done this year. They were so happy and beside themselves excited and all it took was a little extra planning and a little transforming with not much $.

Everything that I mentioned in this post can be found in my vowel surgery unit.



  1. Rachel Backie says:

    I love this! We have talked a lot about vowels but I haven’t done something to cute to help them rmeber them! I may have to do this next week!

  2. This is just about the cutest idea I have ever seen!!!! What a fun and interactive lesson?!?!?! Awesome!

  3. What a awesome idea!

  4. That was amazing! Your kids wiling remember their vowels and the day forever. Awesome!

  5. This is just too dang cute!! I love it, Elizabeth! What a fun and creative idea that keeps the kids so engaged. They will remember that forever! I will definitely try it out!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Awesome activity! I did something similar last week with my 5th grade students: http://www.5thandfabulous.blogspot.com/2014/09/grammar-er-activity-2014.html

  7. Absolutely AMAZING and so much fun!! I so want to do this now!!!!! I just have to tweak it for first grade!! SO FUN!

  8. This is awesome!! So creative and I love hearing how the kids took over their role as a doctor! Too cute! 🙂

  9. OMGosh!!! The cutest thing I’ve EVER seen!!!! I love you Elizabeth !!! This is seriously kinder-genius!!!!

  10. Unbelievable! What fun! Love it!

  11. WOW!!! What a GENIUS idea! I love every aspect of this activity! I will definitely have to get this unit later this year to do with my students! Thank you for sharing your creativeness! Great idea!!!!!