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Long Vowel Sounds: Word Lists & Activities

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In this post, I’m breaking down long vowel sounds (or long vowel words) to help you teach them when working with struggling readers and spellers.

long vowel word lists free download

Looking for long vowel word lists? Download all 5 of my pdf long vowel sounds word lists in my freebies library by joining my email list below.

what is a long vowel sound

What is a long vowel sound?

Long vowel sounds are vowels that are pronounced the same as their name. You’ll often hear teachers say that long vowels “say their name”.

Long vowels are very common but they can be tricky because there are so many spellings for each long vowel sound.

4 ways to make long vowel sounds

There are actually 4 ways to make long vowel sounds:

  1. Vowels at the end of a syllable make the long sound. For example, in the words me and halo (ha-lo) the vowels are all at the end of a syllable so they make the long sound.
  2. Silent e makes the previous vowel long. The words bike and phone have a silent e at the end that makes the previous vowel long.
  3. Vowel teams can make the long sound. Vowel teams work together to make one sound, and usually, it’s a long vowel sound. For example, boat and meat both have vowel teams that make the long sound.
  4. I or O can be long when they come before two consonants. In words like cold and mind, i and o make a long vowel sound.

Long Vowel Words

Long vowel sound words are words that have vowels that say their name. Below are a few examples:

  • Long a – baby, cake, rain, day, they, weigh
  • Long e – me, eve, hear, meet, piece, candy
  • Long i – silent, bike, light, my
  • Long o – go, home, toe, boat, snow
  • Long u – music, mule, pew, feud
long a words list

Long A Sound

The long a sound can be represented by 8 different spelling patterns:

  1. a – baby
  2. a_e – cake
  3. ai – rain
  4. ay – play
  5. ei – reindeer
  6. eigh – weight
  7. ea – steak
  8. ey – they

Learn more about teaching the long a sound here, and check out my Long A Words Activities & Worksheets for printable activities.

long a sound word work worksheets and activities

long e words list

Long E Sound

The long e sound can be represented by 8 different spelling patterns:

  1. e – be
  2. e_e – eve
  3. ee – meet
  4. ea – beach
  5. ei – protein
  6. ie – piece
  7. ey – key
  8. y – candy

For ideas, tips, and tricks when teaching the long e sound, read this post all about teaching the long e vowel sound, and check out my Long E Words Activities & Worksheets for printable activities.

long e sound word work and activities

long i words list

Long I Sound

The long i sound can be represented by 6 different spelling patterns:

  1. i – silent
  2. i_e – shine
  3. ie – pie
  4. igh – light
  5. y – my
  6. y_e – type

You can learn more about teaching the long I sound in this post. And check out my Long I Worksheets set in my shop for printable activities on the long i sound.

long i worksheets

long o words list

Long O Sound

The long o sound can be represented by 5 different spelling patterns:

  1. o – go
  2. o_e – phone
  3. oe – toe
  4. oa – boat
  5. ow – snow

You can learn more about teaching long o words and check out my long o worksheets.

long o worksheets

long u words list

Long U Sound

The long u has two sounds: yoo (/y/ /oo/) and oo (/oo/).

The long u sound can be represented by 7 different spelling patterns:

  1. u – music
  2. u_e – mule
  3. ue – rescue
  4. eu – feud
  5. ew – few
  6. oo – food
  7. ou – soup

Learn more about teaching the long u sound here.

long u worksheets

Tips for teaching the long vowel sounds

Teach one spelling pattern at a time!

I don’t mean one vowel sound, but just one spelling pattern. So for example, if you’re working on long a, you would work on the spelling pattern a silent e (cake, same, cave) until students have mastered it, then move on to ai, and so on. You should not be teaching multiple spelling patterns together, even though they make the same sound.

I know that most programs out there combine all the long vowel sound spelling patterns into one lesson, especially in spelling lists, but this does not work for struggling readers. You need to break it down for them and only do one at a time.

Teach the syllable types.

Because syllables have a lot to do with whether vowels make the short or long sound, if students do not already know the 6 syllable types then teach them along with the long vowel sound.

Here are resources for each syllable type:

Use a variety of activities to practice each spelling pattern.

Games, dictation, word sorts, memory or matching with flashcards, word hunts, textured writing, body spelling, and bingo are all fun ways to practice the long vowel sounds.

The main activity that is often overlooked is dictation. It seems so simple but the task involves listening to a word, deciding on the spelling, and transferring that info to written form. These are all skills that struggling readers need to practice.

Teach the spelling generalizations.

Some of the long vowel spelling patterns are spelling rules that make it easy to remember.

For example, ai is usually found at the beginning or middle of a syllable, and ay is usually found at the end of a syllable. [Examples: rain, aim, play, daytime]

Here is another example with long o: oa is usually found at the beginning or middle of a word, and ow is usually found at the end. [Examples: boat, coach, snow]

long vowel sounds word lists

Long Vowel Word List

I made these word lists to help teach the long vowels. I find it handy to have these on hand when playing phonics games or planning activities for long vowel lessons.

Grab them for free below!

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how to teach long vowels + free word lists

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20 Comments

  1. This is very helpful thanks alot Also have a question the word only does the O make a long or short O sound?

      1. This is so helpful ! I just started to teach my kid short A sound and long A sound using the patterns. My kid asked me how about the spelling of vowel A in “small”. It seems of of rules ?

        Thank you very much !

        1. Hi Tram! So the a in ‘all; does not make the short or long a sound, but rather the short o sound. You can teach ‘al’ words separately: call, ball, wall, almost, talk, salt, etc.

  2. Sorry, I clicked on your link to access posters and nothing shows up. I don’t see anywhere to sign up using my email.

      1. This link takes me to a blank page. Is there another way to join your email list that I don’t see? LK

        1. It’s working for me so not sure why it’s blank for you. Just sign up using one of the boxes embedded in my blog posts. I always post a signup box after the first or second paragraph. You can also email me your name and email address to info@thriveedsercies.com and I can manually add you.

  3. Its kinda hard to teach a spanish speaker the vowels by arrangement of sound. If I teach them from arrangement of spelling would it be confusing in the long run?

    1. Hi Arianna. That is a good question and I am not 100% sure, but I think it could work for most words. Teaching them to look at where the sounds are just helps to learn how to spell them. Reading is much easier though.

    1. Hi Rashmi. Vowel teams sometimes have 2 sounds so you have to teach them one at a time. Always teach the more common one first, and teach them in groups. Group all the long e pronounced words together and group all the short e pronounced words together. Tell students to read the word both ways and they should notice which makes sense once the word is read aloud. With time and lots of exposure, they will learn how to spell these words.

  4. Really touched by what I came across considering that we are a third world country with the majority of our learners attending school where resources are painfully scarce.

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