You’ve probably heard the old saying, “I before E except after C or when it sounds like an A as in neighbor and weigh.” Eigh is one of the multiple ways to represent the long A sound. And there are many others, such as ay, ey, ai, ea and a-e. No wonder our young readers get confused.
Helping kids understand the different ways we represent the long A sound—and figuring out which to use when—is essential to teaching reading and spelling. Regular practice helps kids sort words into the different spellings and recognize a variety of long A spellings.
3 long A sound practice activities
I like to bring different kinds of activities and games into teaching reading and spelling for all multiple spellings for single sound words. Long vowel sounds like long A are no exception. Here are 3 simple activities you can use for practice.
Read and write
Choose words with the long A sound with different spelling patterns, such as crayon, table, rain, plane, and break. For each word, create a set of boxes for each sound. So break would look like b-r-ea-k.
For each word, students should:
- Read each word.
- Underline each sound that they say.
- Write one sound in each box.
- Write the whole word.
Set up headings for the different ways of spelling long A—a, ai, ay, a-e, ea. Depending on your word list and students abilities, you could also add eigh (as in weigh) or ey (as in they).
Make a list of words for students to sort. Examples include:
wave snake crayon apron
break pail pray table
whale plane tray maze
mail cake grapes
You can do this one on a worksheet, with each student working independently. You can create word cards and work in a small group to sort each word into the correct group, or you can use word sort as a whole class activity, asking students to choose a word and decide where it goes and writing them on the board.
Create bingo cards. Each box should have a way of spelling long A and space for students to write a word.
Use the list of long A words students have learned, one by one call out a word. Students should write the word in the correct box. For example, apron would go in the a box, while tray would go in the ay box.
Keep reading new words until one student calls out BINGO. You can accept three words in a row or have students play until they’ve completed their card.
You can make one-time use bingo sheets to photocopy as you need them, or you can print bingo cards on cardstock and laminate them to use with dry erase markers. Either way, kids will have fun practicing their long A sounds.
To make things even easier on you, I’ve put together some of my favorite long A activities—along with tons of other phonics activities and games in The Complete Phonics Kit.
The kit covers all the long vowel sounds, plus other one sound–many spelling sounds, as well as CVC words and digraphs. With 27 sections, each with multiple activities—you’ll never be at a loss for phonics activities.
The Complete Phonics Kit:
- Is suitable for students ages 5–12
- Has easy to follow information and instructions
- Helps to develop your students’ blending and segmenting skills
- Includes a range of individual, small group and whole class activities
- Provides many worksheets and games to assist in consolidating the learning of the phonics sounds.
What is your students’ biggest struggle with the long A sound?