The vowels can be the trickiest sounds to learn for young readers. Here are some tricks I used when teaching Kindergarten to help them associate the letter with the sound by using an action. Also visit some of the links below for games and activities related to short vowels.
a: looks like a spider's body. When I see a spider, I hold my hands up and yell, "aaaah!" (/a/ as in apple)
e: looks like an ear shape. When people can't hear you, they hold their hand up to their ear and say, "eeeeeh? What's that you said? Eeeeeh?" (/e/ as in ever)
i: has a chicken pox spot on it (or mosquito bite). When I have a spot, it itches and I scratch it. Say, "iiiii- itch" while scratching arm. Wrinkle your nose for the full effect. (/i/ as in igloo)
o: looks like an open mouth. When you go to the doctor to have your throat checked, he/she says, "Open wide" and I say, "o". (/o/ as in off)
u: looks like two fingers pointing "uuuuuup" (move two fingers upward as you say "uuuuup"). Two fingers held together is also the sign-language sign for u. (/u/ as in uncle)