Decoding words with long vowels is a critical skill that students will rely on far into their reading lives. Fluency, vocabulary expansion, and comprehension all come after a student can break an unfamiliar word into familiar sounds. In primary reading instruction, we begin decoding with CVC words. A CVC word is a consonant, a short vowel, and a final consonant. After students have mastered this reading pattern, we often move onto CVCe words. These are words with a silent e at the end that creates a long vowel sound.
After CVCe words, students then are exposed to the dozens of long vowel patterns that are in the English language! It can be confusing to keep up with all of the different patterns, and the different sounds they make. It requires plenty of practice over the primary years.
Because this skill is so critical, it’s essential that teachers have a variety of decoding teaching tools in their toolbox! Today, I have five different ways that you can engage students in long vowel practice. These activities will build fluency with long vowel sounds, and CVCe words. This fluency will serve students very well as they move into more complex reading later on!
Building words with a variety of materials is a great way to work tactile learning into the classroom! Use magnetic letters, letter tiles, beads, blocks, or any other letter manipulatives you have on hand. Simply give students a list of long vowel words, and have students build, decode, and read the word. To extend this activity, ask students to use these words in a sentence (orally or written down).
Flip the Vowel
After mastering CVC words, a natural transition for many students is to build off of those skills by taking CVC words and adding a silent e to the end. Take CVC word cards, and grab an ‘e’ magnetic letter or tile. Have students place the the e at the end of each word and read the new word. Ask them to describe how the vowel sound changes.
Sort Words by long Vowel Sound
Helping students to see how words are related to each other, based on the long vowel sound in the word, is a great way to build fluency over time. Give students a stack of cards with different CVCe (or other long vowel pattern) words on it. As they decode the words on the cards, they can create categories, based on the sounds they hear.
Speed fluency practice should not be a cornerstone of literacy instruction, but as students strengthen decoding skills, this is a great exercise to help them build confidence in how quickly their brains can read sounds. Create brief lists of CVCe words, and ask students to read them as quickly as possible. This solidifies their decoding skills, and aids in getting students ready to read passages!
Long Vowel Passages
As always, we want students to practice skills in isolation, but then we want to help them apply those skills in context. Long Vowel Passages are a great way to do that! Long vowel passages focus on one long vowel sound, repeated in a variety of words throughout one passage. In my long vowel passage sets, there are five passages for each of the following patterns: a_e, i_e, o_e, u_e. Plus, a set of 5 passages with mixed vowel sounds.
Having students read the words in context helps you see how they do with decoding in a text, and gives you a sense of which sounds they are still struggling with.
Outside of this set of passages, I also have a growing bundle of phonics passages! Grab the growing bundle now to have all of the phonics reading you’ll need for the school year! Read more about the phonics passages bundle in THIS blog post!