Spelling Activities for Long Vowel Sounds

Comparing similar-looking words with different vowel sounds helps students recognize the differences.
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Getting young students to learn how to spell words with long vowel sounds hinges on getting them to recognize spelling patterns that dictate those sounds, such as vowel-consonant-vowel and double vowel patterns. You can teach these patterns using both online and offline activities that will engage your students and break the monotony of traditional spelling lessons.

1 Smart Long A

This free activity that you can download from Smart Exchange focuses on the vowel-consonant-vowel pattern for recognizing the long-A sound in words. The activity begins with a page that lists several three-letter words with a short-A sound, such as "can," "tap" and "cap." The directions ask students to then drag an "e" onto the end of each word to form the V-C-V pattern and long-A sounds: "cane," "tape" and "cape." The following pages provide more recognition work by displaying words with a long-A sound and asking students to underline the V-C-V pattern in each, reading words with long-A sounds and dragging appropriate long-A words to corresponding sentences.

Vocabulary Builder

2 Memory Match

Memory match games are effective for building a child's ability to recognize spelling patterns that correspond to long vowel sounds. Write words with various long vowel sounds on the backs of index cards, as well as some with short vowel sounds. Choose words of each type that are spelled similarly. For example, include the words "kit" and "kite" and "ten" and "teen." Set up each student -- or a small group of students -- with a set of memory cards set face-down. A student who matches two words that follow the same long-vowel spelling pattern -- either V-C-V or double vowels -- has succeeded and gets to go again. When a student unsuccessfully matches words like "kit" and "kite," take the time to explain the similarity as well as the pattern difference.

3 See 'N Spell

This simple activity can be played for free on primarygames.com. Students are shown pictures of objects with long vowel sounds and instructed to write the name of what they see. For example, if an image of a birthday cake is displayed, the student should write cake. Help your students by having them say the name of the object out loud first, so they can identify the word with the long vowel sound and make a connection between the sound and what they see. Furthermore, this dialogue can help students remain focused on which word they need to spell. If the student says "birthday cake," keep the student focused on "cake."

4 Crossword Puzzles

Crossword puzzles are another tool you can use to help teach your students about long vowel words. Design a simple crossword puzzle that uses the words your class is studying, plus a few that are just beyond their ability, but follow the same vowel rules as the ones they know. For instance, if you are only studying single syllable words that end in V-C-V patterns, add a few polysyllabic variations of those words, such as "tracer" instead of "trace," or "arise" instead of just "rise." The structure of a crossword will provide them with a manner of feedback as well: They can complete the puzzle only if they spell words correctly, and they will notice when words don't match up.

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."