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Learning vowel sounds can be rough on kids.
They might look like simple, single letters, but these five (sometimes six) little letters can make multiple sounds and do so in multiple ways.
The English language is known for its quirky rules that don’t always make a whole lot of sense and the many exceptions to those rules that you’ll encounter.
It can be confusing enough to rattle the brain of a fully grown adult, but for a kindergartner that’s just learning to read, it can be even worse.
I try to keep this in mind when we first start learning to read.
We start with the short vowel sounds as those are typically what are seen most often in regular day to day reading, and those are usually picked up pretty quickly.
But once we move onto the long vowel sounds, we slow way down.
You’ll find far more rules and ways to make these sounds and a few new exceptions to the rules as well.
Today, we’re going to focus on that long A sound and the long A words that your kindergartener will be able to read and spell with it.
Now, like I said before, we typically start learning vowel sounds by covering the short vowel sounds first as these are much more common and give kids the opportunity to immediately start reading short CVC words, but moving onto those long vowel sounds is also really exciting.
Learning these long sounds gives your kindergarteners the ability to really expand the list of words that they’ll then be able to read and spell.
You just have to learn those rules that I talked about earlier.
Ways to Make the Long A Sound
When learning to identify those long A words, your kindergartener should understand that there are a few different way to make them.
The Magic Silent E
This is an easy one to spot and kids always love spotting that magic silent E!
These are VCe or a_e words where the A and the E are separated by a consonant and the E is the last letter in the word. With this combination the E sits silently at the end of the word while making the previous vowel say its name.
Words like ace, cake, fame, and gate are all magic E words.
The Vowel Team AI
There’s an old saying that I learned in school that makes these vowel team rules super simple to remember: when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.
So, when you see this particular vowel team, ai, the A will make that long A sound and say its name while the I will remain silent.
Examples of the long A words containing the ai vowel team include maid, train, paid, and faint.
The Vowel Team AY
This vowel team works exactly the same as the other when it comes to those long A words.
The A does the talking while the Y stays silent.
You’ll see this vowel team in words like ray, pay, away, and spray.
The Open Syllable
Open syllables occur when a vowel is at the end of a syllable.
Alternatively, syllables that end in consonants are considered closed.
When the letter A is found at the end of a syllable, this produces that long A vowel sound.
You’ll find this in long A words like April, radio, cater, and table.
The Irregular Vowel Team EI
Like I said earlier, there are always exceptions to the rules.
The vowel teams rules would tell us that when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking, but the ei vowel team is the exception.
This team makes that long A sound and can be found in words like eight, vein, neighbor, and reign.
Knowing these five ways to make the long A sound will make it exponentially easier for your kindergarteners to identify them, but it can also be helpful to know the various spellings that they might see.
Spelling Long A Words
There are eight different spelling patterns that can create the long A sound.
- a (halo)
- a_e (make)
- ai (bait)
- ay (day)
- ei (vein)
- eigh (sleigh)
- ea (break)
- ey (they)
Now, while it’s important to know the rules, exceptions, and spelling patterns for those long A words, it’s far more important to get in some good old fashioned vowel practice with a list of different long A words.
Long A Word List
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it definitely gives you and your kindergarteners a solid place to start.
With time and a little bit of practice, they’ll soon be able to identify the rule that makes each of these long A words as well as be able to spot other long A words in their day to day reading.