How to Teach Long O Words in Kindergarten

When you hear the letter o’s name in a word, it is a long o word.   There are 5 variations of words with a long o; o alone, o_e, oe, oa, and ow.  See examples of these variations below.

o alone, go

o_e, nose

oe, toe

oa, boat

ow, snow

In kindergarten, we mainly focus on o_e, oa and ow words.  We go over the other long o spelling patterns as we come across them in books or in writing, but we have specific lessons on these.

long o words

Short O and Long O Words

Long o and short o words make different sounds.  Short o words make a sound like in the words pot and rock.  Words with long o make the sound of the vowel’s name, like in the words soap and blow.  See the short and long o words list below for more examples. 

Long O Words List

Since we teach specific lessons on long o sound words with o_e, oa, and ow, our long o word list only focuses on those three patterns.  

Teaching the Long O Sound

Like any long vowel, teaching the long sound of o can be tricky.  However, using the lessons and activities below can make learning the ō sound fun.  All of the below activities suggest the use of a practice worksheet at the end of the lesson.  They are definitely not required to teach any of the activities.  If you do not have any worksheets for words with the o sound, there are plenty of things you can do for practice.  One example is to create your own long o word cards and put them all around your room.  Then give students a piece of paper, and have them search for the long o words and record what they find.  Another example, if you have books with the o sound words you are teaching, pass out to partners of students.  Have them work together to locate and read the long o words in their book.

Long O Short O Words

Students should already know the short o sound before starting to teach how long o sounds.  The first lesson is showing them the difference of the long o vs short o sound.  First go over both sounds.  Next tell your students, “I am going to say a few words with o sounds, some short o and some long o words.  We are going to be listening for long o sounds.  If you hear a word with long o sound, give a thumbs up.  If you hear a word with a short o sound, give a thumbs down.”  You can always use different movement instead of thumbs up, thumbs down.  I like to change up how we are moving for each long vowel I teach.  So you might try having your kids stand up during this lesson, and reach up tall for long vowel o words and touch your toes for short vowel o words.  Completing the lesson with a long and short o words worksheet will give students more practice.

Magic E

My students always got excited about Magic E (probably because I showed excitement when teaching it).  When teaching o consonant e words, explain that the e at the end of the word is magic!  It gives all its power to the o, which makes the o say its name.   Then go over some examples on the board showing your students how the e is silent and giving the power to the o. You can pair this activity with a great long o silent e worksheet for students to practice.

Vowel Team

There are a couple of long o vowel teams, but we teach only one, the oa vowel team. We always start by saying, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.”  By the time we get to the long o vowel sound, they know this little chant and happily say it with us. Next tell them, “The vowel team we are learning is oa (and write those letters on the board).  Which vowel do you think we will hear, the o or the a?…..That’s right, we’ll hear the o because it’s the first one and the a will be silent.  Let’s look at some words with this vowel team.”  Write some words on the board and have students read them with you.  Follow this lesson up with a worksheet for student work period.

Vowel Pattern

The last vowel pattern we teach are long ow words, as in snow or blow. Make sure to point out that ow makes two sounds, as in cow or tow.  Students may have to try both sounds to see which sound makes sense with that particular word when they start reading words with ow.  Explain that the focus for today is on the ow that has the long o vowel sound.  Write some examples on the board and have students read the words with you.  For work period, have students complete an ow worksheet.


As stated above, you don’t need the worksheets to complete the lessons.  There were days I didn’t use worksheets if my students were writing a lot in other subjects.  Read the Teaching the Long O Sound paragraph above for a couple examples of things you can do without worksheets.  But, if you are looking for great long o pages that require no preparation, then we can help you out.  This packet includes 20 pages of practice with words with long o sound. There are lists of long vowel o words; o-e word list, oa word list, and ow word list, and a list of short and long o sound words.  There are also plenty of practice pages  for differentiating short and long sound of o, the long o vowel patterns of o consonant e, oa, and ow

More Long Vowel Practice

Are you teaching the rest of the long vowels and in need of some ideas or tips?  Read our blog post on all the long vowels or pick which one you are teaching next below.


O is a vowel and it makes a short sound and a long sound.

The long o sound says the o’s name, as in goat and low.

Nose has a long o vowel and is in the o consonant e vowel pattern.

Soap has a long o vowel and is in the oa vowel pattern.

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