How to Teach Long A Sound for Kindergarten

Words with the long vowel a are words that say the letter a’s name.  Here are a few long a words examples: play, gate, eight, acorn.  There are a few variations of long a sound words.

a at the beginning of a word, acorn

a_e, cake

ai, train

ay, play

eigh, eight

ei, vein

ey, they

ea, great

In kindergarten, we mainly focus on a_e, ay, and ai.  See the list below for examples. 

Long A vs Short A Sound

As stated before, long vowel words say their name.  Short vowel sounds have a different sound.  Short a sounding words are words like bat and map.  You don’t hear the a name.   See the chart below for examples of short and long a sound words.  This chart has long a and short a sound words with pictures and can be purchased with our Long A Packet.

Long A Words List

The following are lists of long a sound words that have the long a rules/patterns and examples.  These are also included in our Long A Packet.  These are great to hang in your classroom when teaching about words with a long a sound.

How to Teach Long A Sound Words

These lessons have great activities, and students will enjoy learning about this long vowel. 

Short A/Long A Sound Activity

We start by going over the long vs short a sound.  For the first vowel activity, start by saying a word with either the long a sound or the short a sound.  We tell them we are listening for the long sound a.  If students hear the long a sound, they do thumbs up, and if they hear the short a sound, they do thumbs down.  It sounds like this, “The next word is hat, thumbs up if you hear long a, or thumbs down if you hear short a.   Good, you should have thumbs down.  The word hat has a short a.”  Use the list of words with long a and short a above for examples of words to use.  You can always do different movements, like stand up when you hear long a words, and sit down when you hear short a words.  Do this activity until the majority of your students are answering correctly, then introduce and model how to complete a long and short vowel worksheet

kids giving thumbs up
long a vs short a worksheets

Magic E

Magic e is always a fun lesson for students.  Tell students that the letter e can be magic, because when you add it to the end of the word, it makes the a say it’s name.  Then do some examples on the board, like: cap becomes cape, mat becomes mate, sam becomes same, etc.  When you add the e  to the end, show excitement, and watch your students match your emotion.  You can add a Magic e worksheet for student work period. 

Vowel Teams

The vowel teams for long a we teach in kindergarten are ai and ay.  We love to teach our students the following saying, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.”  We point this out as we go over a few examples of words with ai and ay.  For example, “In the word rain, you hear the a saying it’s name, but you don’t hear the i at all.”  We follow it up with some great long vowel a worksheets to help students remember what they have learned. 

Worksheets for the Long A Words

If your students are working on long vowel words with a, this long a packet will help them learn and practice.  Since we focus mainly on kindergarten, these pages will follow the long a patterns taught in kindergarten; a_e, ai, and ay


A  long a sound is when the letter a in a word says its name.  

Any word that has the long a sound.  Examples: bake, rain, day, acorn. 

The short a sound is what you hear in the middle of the words mat, bad, and tag.  

  • a by itself at the beginning of words (able)
  • a_e (trade)
  • ai (tail)
  • ay (may)
  • eigh (sleigh)
  • ei (veil)
  • ey (they)
  • ea (steak)

More Long Vowel Activities

If you are looking for more activities for all the long vowels, check out How to Use Long Vowel Worksheets in Your Class.  This article gives you an overview of teaching all the long vowels and worksheets for each one.  If you are looking for specific vowels, see below.

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