Each vowel has a short and a long sound. We always start out teaching the short vowel sound to students. When students know all the short vowel sounds and most of the consonant sounds, it’s time to introduce the long vowel sounds.
When to Teach Long Vowel Sounds in Kindergarten
It’s very unlikely that all of your students will be ready to learn long vowel sounds at the same time. But that’s ok. As said in the first paragraph, students are ready when they know most of the consonant sounds and all of the short vowel sounds. When you have the majority of your class at this point, it is time to formally teach long vowels. The reason I say formallyteach is because there are always a few students ready way before the majority of the class. We informally start going over long vowels as soon as we have one student ready. When we are reading the objective written on the board for any lesson (reading, writing, math, science…), if there is a word with a long vowel, we quickly point it out. (ex. Objective: We can read and write sight words. Teacher: after reading the objective, says, “Look at the word read, the e is saying it’s name and you don’t hear the a. When two vowels are next to each other, you only hear the first vowel.”) Guided reading is another great place to teach kids that are ready about long vowels. If you have students that are not ready when you teach your class about long vowels, that’s ok also. The formal instruction will be their introduction to long vowels. You can give them further instruction in their guided reading groups when they learn most of the other letter sounds.
How to Teach Long Vowel Sounds in Kindergarten
The first day of long vowel instruction, we taught that all vowels have a short and a long sound. We went over each vowel and its short and long sounds. We used a song to help kids remember the sounds. The song is a little further down in this post. After day one, we focused on one vowel at a time. Start with the vowels that you’ve already gone over with the class. Spend some time reviewing the short sound and then going over the long sound. We liked to play games, such as Thumbs Up if you hear the long sound: Teacher says a word, students put thumbs up if the vowel is a long sound, hands stay in lap if the vowel is a short sound. Then use long vowel sounds worksheets to help students solidify this information. If there are vowels that you haven’t spent time going over with your class, wait to teach the long vowel sound for those vowels. When you are ready to teach those vowels, teach both sounds. Start by teaching the short sound for a couple of days, then jump into the long sound.
There are some cute tricks you can teach your students to help them remember the long sounds.
3 Great Teaching Tools When Teaching Long Vowels
1. Magic e
One of the most popular is the Magic e. Tell students when the letter e is placed at the end of a word it makes the vowel in the middle of the word say its name, so it’s magical! (ex. cap becomes cape) Click on the picture for a great Magic e video to show your students.
2. Vowel Teams
Vowel teams is my favorite one to teach because the rule is fun to say: When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. That means the first vowel is going to say its name and the second vowel is silent. (ex. team, sail, goat) Click on the picture for a great vowel teams video.
3. Long Vowel Song
One of our very creative colleagues wrote a long vowel song that we taught our students on Day 1 of teaching long vowels. The students loved singing it (sometimes you’d hear them singing it at recess.) It’s very catchy and very easy to remember.
Continue until all the long vowels are done. This can be a little long, but the students enjoy it because they can catch on to the words quickly. Another option is to sing a shortened version when you are focused on one letter. If you are teaching the long a vowel sound, sing this song only with the long a vowel sound and don’t sing the rest of the vowel sounds. (You could also use this song to review short vowel sounds.)
Specific Long Vowels
We have written blog posts on each long vowel, explaining how we taught each one in our classes. These posts will give you activities, lessons, and great tips to use for each long vowel. Click on the picture below for the vowel you are looking for.
Our Long Vowel Worksheets
Our worksheets for long vowel sounds are fantastic! We have a few long and short vowel worksheets to help students hear the difference between the short and long sound of each vowel. The rest of the pages focus only on the long vowel sound. There are games included in our long vowel worksheets for kindergarten packet. You can purchase each vowel separately or get a discounted price for the bundle of all the vowels.
More Kindergarten Worksheets
Are you looking for more great kindergarten worksheets? We have plenty! Check out our CVC Words worksheets, Word Family worksheets, and Digraph worksheets! We have also designed an entire Literacy Foundational Skills Curriculum for Kindergarten. You can purchase products from this curriculum separately or get the entire bundle for a discounted rate!