Teaching Long I Words in Kindergarten

What is a long i sound?  The long i sound is when you hear the letter name i in a word.  There are 6 different ways a word produces the long sound i.  See examples of words with long i below.

i alone, I

i_e, kite

ie, tie

igh, night

y at the end of a word, fly

y_e, type

This article will be focused on the long i vowel patterns of i_e, ie, and igh as these were the ones we taught our kindergarteners.

long i words

Short I and Long I Words

Short and long i vowel words make two different sounds.  Like stated above, long i sound words say the i name, where the short i sound words do not.  Ice and bright are examples of long i and pin and fit are examples of short i.  

Long I Words List

The following lists are of the long i spelling patterns we taught in kindergarten.   The patterns are i_e, ie, and igh.  These lists are great to use when teaching long I words.  Hang them around your classroom so students can reference them when needed. 

Teaching the Long Sound of I

The following activities worked great with our kindergarteners.  We usually spent about 4 days teaching words with the long i sound and did a different activity each day. 

Long and Short i words

We do this activity when we are introducing all of the long vowels.  Start off by going over the short i sound and the long i sound.  Give a few examples, so they can hear the difference.  Tell students that you will be saying words with an i sound; some words will have short i sound and some will have long i sound.  When they hear words with long i sound, they give thumbs up (or any motion you would like them to do.)  When they hear words with short i sound, they give thumbs down (again, you can change this motion.  Sometimes I had students do jazz hands for the long vowel sound and cover their ears for the short vowel sound).  Use the long i and short i words list from above when calling out words for your students.  Use one of our short i / long i words worksheets to complete the lesson.  Our students always loved cutting and sorting the pictures, but if you don’t have time for cutting and gluing, go with the other. 

Magic E

When teaching the long i_e vowel pattern, we go over the Magic E.  Tell your students that the e is magic (which they might already know if you taught this with other long vowels).  When you put an e on the end of the word, it makes the i say its name.  Then demonstrate how that works with some words on the board.  For example, the e at the end of bike, slide, and like gives all its power to the i, so the i says his name and you don’t hear the e at all.  Follow this activity up with a long i_e worksheet, like the one below.

Vowel Team

We taught the ie vowel team to our kindergarteners.  Our favorite saying when teaching vowel teams is, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.”  Show them when ie are together, the i says his name and the e is silent, as in pie, fried, and tie.  Complete this short lesson with the ie worksheet below.

Vowel Pattern

The igh vowel pattern can be a tricky one for students to get.  Tell your students that when igh are together they make the one sound, the long i sound.  Coming up with a cute chant might help them remember also.  For example, “igh says /ī/ like bright light.”  Have them repeat it a few times, then every time you see igh, remind them of the chant and have them say it with you.  Demonstrate how to complete the igh worksheet after you have gone over a few words with this vowel pattern.


We have a separate worksheet for each of the activities listed above.  We also have a few worksheets that combine the vowel patterns mentioned above.  These long i worksheets are great for student work period and for sending home for more practice. 

More Long Vowel Sounds Practice

Looking for more long vowel activities?  We have long vowel words worksheets, activities, videos and more.  Read Long Vowel Worksheets for all the vowels.  This is not an article just about worksheets, it gives great information on when to start teaching long vowels, how to teach them in kindergarten, some cute videos and songs all about the long vowels.  If you are looking for individual vowels, check out:


These are words with long i sounds, like bike, kite, fight, light, fries, and pie.

Vowels make two sounds, a short sound and a long sound.  The long sound is when the vowel is saying its name. 

The long i sound is the sound i makes when it says its name, as in high and like.

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