Long a is another tricky vowel sound to learn because it has many different ways to spell it but is only pronounced one way. This vowel sound has only one spelling rule for the vowel sound of long A. So many words will depend on memory and practice. Let’s cover the spelling options for the long sound.
The Most Common Spellings of Long Vowel A
The Long A sound can be represented with 8 possible phonics combinations
- 45% of words use the open syllable like “bacon”,
- 35% have magic e-syllables such as “bake”,
- 9 % take vowel teams with ai words
- 6% are made up of the vowel team ay– ‘play’ ‘day” and ‘tray” are examples here.
The Less Common Vowel Team Spellings of Long A
- EI combination in words like reindeer can be found in a small number of cases.
- ea phoneme as seen with steak is only found in 8 words. Finally,
- Eigh is found in words from old English like in <weigh>.
- EY typically carries its long-E pronunciation in only a few words like in the word <they> most of the time it has the pronunciation of the long e vowel sound like in key.
As a prerequisite for teaching the long A vowel sound, students should be familiar with the rules of the open syllable and magic e rules. Additionally, they’ll need to identify base words so they can recognize and pronounce the vowel sounds before a suffix.
Choices for Spelling with Long A
Students must be able to notice and read the open syllable. The long A sound is seen in words like a-ble, a-corn,a-pron, ba-by, ba-sic and cra-zy.
Silent E a_e
The silent e-syllable is the most common spelling pattern in the middle of base words. Examples include ‘take’, ‘save’ and even ‘athlete’.
Vowel Team AI Words
Vowel Team ai can be used at the beginning or in the middle of a word but is never in the final position because English words don’t end in the letter <i>.
Vowel Team AY
This vowel team is only found at the end of a base word because English words don’t have <i> in the final position so the letter <y> takes its place in words like play, day, stay, tray, and say.
Less Used Vowel Teams
Vowel Team EY as Long A
The EY Vowel Team consists of ten words that may not be as commonly known. The main examples students will see would be words like <they>, <obey>, and <survey>. EY usually says the long <E> sound as in <key>.
Vowel Team EI
While long a can be spelled in many ways, the EI spelling pattern is less common. There is no set rule for this particular spelling variation – however, it does appear a few times throughout English words, such as in the words ‘heir’ and ‘neigh’.
Vowel Team EIGH
EIGH is an unexpected way to spell the long a sound in words originating from Old English, such as eight and weigh.
Vowel Team EA
Students can learn the rarely used representation of the long a sound in words like steak, great, and break.
These should be studied as part of a group along with EA+R-ending terms such as bear, tear, wear, pear and swear for complete mastery of this vowel combination.
Tips For Teaching The Long A Sound
Practice and repetition
Focus on one representation at a time, allowing them to become confident in reading the vowel sounds. Then begin to slowly add other vowel team combinations as students progress. Repetition is key when it comes to mastering these spelling patterns.
Use Key Words and Pictures
Help your students master words with vowels with the long a sound! For each spelling pattern, give them a keyword plus an accompanying image – this way, they’ll have something to remember for both writing and dictation.
Whether it’s “-ai,” “-ay” or other patterns, combine visual aids with keywords so your learners can make a lasting impression on their spellings!
Most Common Ways to Spell Long A in English
- Open A Syllable- bacon
- a_e Magic E Syllable -cake
- ay- play * only used at the end
- ai- rain* never used at the end of a base word
Break words down to narrow choices
To master the spelling of words, teachers should break them down into syllables and eliminate any incorrect spelling. For example, when attempting to spell the open syllable word ‘bacon’, a teacher could provide clues such as – “What’s this word’s first syllable? We know an open syllable always ends with long vowel sounds.” Making learning easier when teaching is explicit and sequential!
Navigating spelling choices for the long a sound can be challenging, but with repetition comes understanding. Incorporating varied activities and games into learning helps to internalize it more quickly. Additionally teaching students about the spelling frequency and syllable types – Open A, Silent A_E, Vowel Team ai and ay – is an effective way of mastering this skill.
Listen for Spelling
When students learn phoneme-grapheme mapping it helps with all aspects of literacy. Orthographic mapping is an effective activity that equips students with the ability to hear and write sounds and letter combinations.
Through my free Long A word list with examples alongside free orthographic templates, students learn the alphabetic principle that reveals how consonants and vowels form words. With the sound-symbol understanding in hand, they can go on to conquer both decoding and encoding skills alike!
Help Kids Learn with Decodable Texts and Cloze Passages
Engaging in small group reading and vocabulary activities with decodable stories can help students master the long A sound! Encourage them to search for vocabulary words in sentences containing this vowel. Highlight each spelling choice using a different color. Help them to learn even more by circling suffixes.
When the reading is completed incorporate the power of word sorting into your teaching with decodable texts! Use word sort charts during reading. At the end of the post, I will share a free long A words list that’ll make sure you’ve got everything covered. Sharing is caring!
Practice with Dictation with the long A sound
Help them learn dictation skills. Give your class an advantage in spelling words by dividing the words based on syllable type. For example, one day do dictation with open syllable words like a-pron, a-ble, and ba-by. Then in another lesson add focus on magic e words or vowel teams.
Set Up Sorting Activities
Ignite your students’ phonemic awareness with an exciting sorting game! From matching games like memory to reading battles, there are numerous inventive ways to get kids engaged in developing essential literacy abilities.
Make Pictures in Tricky Words
Picture cue cards are an effective learning tool for mastering complex words, homophones and homographs. Create your own personal reference box by printing out the pictures on index cards or compiling them into a notebook – great to have at arm’s reach!
Repurpose A Game for Spelling
Kids can boost their spelling acumen in a fresh, fun way with adapted board games! Reimagine classics like Jenga and Don’t Break The Ice. Each successful reading and spelling with these sounds is rewarded with an exciting twist on an old game.
Review Those Concepts
Want to become a spelling master? Make sure you’re constantly reviewing the fundamentals – sound card or sheet drills are perfect for mastering newly learned patterns with minimal effort. Take your studies further and grab worksheets, posters, and activities focusing on long A words from my TPT store!
Download Free Games Anchor Charts and Wordlists for Long A