Long Vowel Sounds With Word Lists & Activities

The English language can be confusing and difficult to learn even if you are a native speaker teaching another native speaker. 

The confusing sounds that are often present in English stem from the fact that the language is made up of aspects of various root languages. 

Long Vowel Sounds With Word Lists & Activities

One of the most common difficulties that students encounter with English is nailing long vowel sounds. There are so many different ways in which long vowel sounds can be made in the English language.

In this article, we will look at the different long vowel sounds and long vowel words to help guide your teaching of these sounds to children struggling with reading and spelling. 

What Is A Long Vowel Sound?

In the English language, a long vowel sound is a vowel that is pronounced within a word in the same way as the letter’s name is pronounced (ay, ee, ai, oh, you).

Because of this, you will often hear teachers teach long vowel sounds by saying that these letters say their names. These letters are referred to as long vowels because the pronunciation is long rather than short and staccato. 

Long vowels are incredibly common in English, however, this doesn’t make them any easier to learn. This is because there are so many different ways that long vowel sounds can be spelled. 

Within the English language, there are four ways to make long vowel sounds. 

  1. Vowels at the end of syllables make the long form of their sound. An example of this is the word me. The e at the end makes the same sound as the name of the letter. The same is true of both vowels in the word halo. Because halo has two syllables, both of the vowels are at the end of a syllable, therefore, they make their long sounds (ay and oh).
  2. Having a silent or magic e at the end of a word makes the previous vowel sound long. In words such as bike and lone, the vowel in the middle of the word has a long sound because of the silent e at the end. The silent e is what makes the difference between pronunciation in words such as bit and bite
  3. Groups of vowels can create a long vowel sound in some words. These are sometimes known as vowel teams because the letters work together to create the long sound. This is often seen with the vowels a and o or e and a. Examples of vowel teams in words include boat and beat
  4. The vowels I and O can produce the long vowel sound when they precede two consonants. Common examples of this include mind and bold. It should be noted that this isn’t always the case for vowels that precede two consonants, for example, long maintains a short vowel sound. 

Words With Long Vowels

There are plenty of long vowel words. These are simply words that feature at least one long vowel sound. The cause of the long vowel can be any of the rules mentioned above.

Below are a few examples of different long vowel words with different spelling patterns:

  • Long A words – cake, rain, weigh, day, cake, they
  • Long E words – eve, me, meet, piece, hear, candy
  • Long I words – light, silent, my, bike
  • Long O words – toe, go, home, snow, boat
  • Long U words – Feud, music, pew, mule

As you can see in some of these examples, a word can have a long vowel sound without containing the letter that individually makes the sound. For example, weigh does not contain the letter A, but does contain the long A sound. 

Long A Sound Word List

As we have mentioned above, each long vowel sound can be made by various different spellings. The long A sound can be made with a total of 8 different spelling patterns. 

  1. A – lady
  2. A_e – bake
  3. Ai – pain
  4. Ay – say
  5. Ei – reindeer
  6. Eigh – neighbor
  7. Ea – steak
  8. Ey – they

Long E Sound Word List

As with the long A sounds, there are 8 different spellings that can be used to create a long e sound in English words. Below are all of the spellings that can create a long e sound in words.

  1. E – me
  2. E_e – meme
  3. Ee – keep
  4. Ea – each 
  5. Ei – protein
  6. Ie – thief
  7. Ey – monkey
  8. Y – party

Long I Sound Word List

For the long I sound to be created in words, there are only 6 different spelling patterns. Below are the 6 spellings that can create the long I sound in English.

  1. I – silent
  2. I_e –  pipe
  3. Ie – lie
  4. Igh – sight
  5. Y – by
  6. Y_e – type

Long O Sound Word List

The long o sound in English has the smallest amount of potential spelling patterns. Below are the 5 different spellings that create the long o sound.

  1. O – so
  2. O_e – bone
  3. Oe – sloe
  4. Oa – moat
  5. Ow – bow

Long U Sound Word List

The long u sound is one of the most difficult long vowel sounds in English. This is because there are two possible long u sounds: yoo and oo. There are 7 different spellings that can be used to create either of these two long u sounds. 

  1. U – music
  2. U_e – tune 
  3. Ue – rescue
  4. Eu – feud
  5. Ew – dew
  6. Oo – boom
  7. Ou – soup
Long Vowel Sounds With Word Lists & Activities

Tips For Teaching Long Vowel Sounds

Now that you are familiar with all the different long vowel sounds and their various spellings, it is important to focus on how you can successfully teach these sounds to your students, especially those who may be struggling with reading or spelling.

Below, we are going to look at some helpful tips that you can use to help your students understand how and when to use these sounds in their reading and writing. 

Teach One Spelling Pattern At A Time

Anyone who is accustomed to teaching will know that the easiest way to impart new information is to break it down into smaller bites.

This goes beyond just breaking long vowel sounds into 5 different letters. You should also try to break each letter down into the various spelling patterns. 

For example, when you are working on a long a sound, you should break the sound down into the different spellings of A, a_e, ai, ay, ei, eigh, ea, and ey.

You should make sure that you only focus on one spelling at a time and stick with that one spelling until your student has mastered it.

If you begin with a_e words, you should work on examples of this spelling pattern using words such as cake, cave, same, and bake. Once your student is confident with this spelling pattern for both reading and writing, you can move on to another pattern such as ai

Even though all the spelling patterns for a long vowel sound make the same sound, teaching them concurrently can be confusing and slow down the learning process for many students.

Breaking the sound down into the various spellings that they are likely to come across can simplify things for them. 

Unfortunately, the majority of reading and writing programs out there will combine all of the long vowel sound spelling patterns into single lessons, particularly in the form of spelling lists.

Because this can be unhelpful for students who are struggling with reading, you are likely to have to create your own lessons to help all of your students achieve their potential. 

Teach The Syllable Types

When it comes to the sounds that vowels make in particular words, syllables can have a significant impact on whether there is a short or long sound in a word.

Because of this, if your students are not aware of or familiar with the 6 types of syllables, they will struggle with understanding whether they should be using the long or short vowel sounds. 

Below are the 6 types of syllables for reference.

Closed syllable – a closed syllable is a syllable that ends in a consonant. Examples of closed syllable words include cat, sit, and big

Open syllable – an open syllable is the opposite of a closed syllable. These are syllables that have a long vowel sound but the vowel is open. This means that there is no consonant after it. Examples of open syllables include no, he, and me.

Final silent e syllable – this is a slightly more complex type of syllable. For this type of syllable, a final silent e goes together with a consonant just before the silent e. Examples of this type of syllable include home, fine, and cute

Consonant le syllable – another more complex type of syllable is the consonant le syllable. This is a syllable that is made up of a consonant and the letter l before a silent e to form the final syllable of a word. Examples of this type of syllable include syllable, able, middle, and apple.

Vowel team syllable – a vowel team syllable is a syllable that has two vowels that work together to make a single vowel sound. Examples of vowel team syllables include bean, boat, bout, and meat

R combination syllable – an r combination syllable is a syllable that has an r controlled vowel. This type of syllable always has at least one vowel that is followed by the letter r. Examples of this type of syllable include blur, ear, sir, and for.

Use A Variety Of Activities To Practice

When you are teaching long vowel sounds to students, particularly those that are struggling with reading and writing, things can get very repetitive and boring.

Every educator and student knows that boredom isn’t conducive to effective learning. 

Instead of repetition, teaching tools such as games, dictation, word sorts, memory games, and flashcards are all great ways to keep students engaged in their learning and can help to make the concepts easier to understand and retain. 

Of all the games and activities that you can use to help your students learn the various long vowel sounds, dictation is probably the most effective and the most overlooked.

This task seems incredibly simple, however, it involves actively listening to a word, deciding on the spelling, and transferring that into the written form. These are all skills that are incredibly useful for students who struggle to read. 

Teach Spelling Generalizations

Some of the common long vowel sounds in spelling patterns are firm spelling rules which can make it easier to remember them.

 An example of these spelling rules is the positioning of the letters ai. This long vowel combination is usually found at the beginning or middle of a syllable.

Conversely, the letters ay are usually found at the end of a syllable. Examples of this include rain, aim, play, and daytime.

Another example of a spelling generalization is the long o sound. The combination of letters, oa, is usually found at the beginning or the middle of the word.

On the other hand, the letters ow are usually found at the end of a word. Examples of this include boat, coach, and snow

Long Vowel Sounds With Word Lists & Activities

Long Vowel Activities

We have already mentioned that using a variety of activities is the best way to help your students who are struggling to pick up the long vowel sounds in their reading and writing(see also: Hands-On Reading And Writing Activities With Bees). Coming up with effective activities can be difficult and draining.

Below are some suggestions for long vowel sounds activities that can help to fast-track your students’ learning. 

Fill In The Blanks

This activity can be prepared by getting pictures of words that have a long vowel sound in them.

It is important to make sure that the pictures are easily recognizable to your students. Some examples of good words to use include unicorn, mailbox, and computer

You should then create sentences that use these words. An example of this would be “My m__lbox is full!”. You can then show a picture of a mailbox to your students as a hint to help them work out what the word is.

To make things even easier, you should put separate blank marks for each letter of the long a sound. 

Short Vowel Vs. Long Vowel Pairs

Identifying short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds is one of the hardest concepts for students to understand. However, this activity can help students begin to identify the difference between the two sounds. 

You will need to make flashcards for this activity. There should be matching pairs of words that feature the long and short versions of a vowel sound(see also: Short E Sounds: Everything to Teach Your Child About This Vowel Sound).

For example, you should have separate cards with bite and bit, made and mad, and chess and cheese

You should ask your students how you pronounce each word as you hold the flashcards up for them. If they get the pronunciation correct for both words in a pair, point out which word has the long vowel sound.

This game is designed to help your students identify the spelling differences that contribute to the pronunciation of vowel sounds. 

Long Vowel Chain

If you have a class of at least 5 students, you can use the long vowel chain activity to help them learn different words with long vowel sounds.

The aim of the game is to come up with as many words with the same long vowel sound as you can. Aiming for at least 20 words ensures the game lasts long enough. 

The first student, or you as the teacher starts the chain by stating a word with a long vowel sound. For example, a chain of long a sounds can begin with cake.

The next student could say game, the next, case, and so on until you have reached 20 words or have run out of words. This can help with pronunciation and remembering words. 

Final Thoughts

There are so many different ways in which you can teach your students to read and write long vowel sounds.

Because there are so many different spelling patterns and rules that surround long vowel sounds, using activities can help your students to fast-track their learning.

Suzy Anderson
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