Long A Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about vowel sounds, specifically Long A.  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Long A. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Before beginning this topic, we highly recommend screening the Short Vowels and the Silent E movies for review. This movie will introduce the long a sound and common ways it can be spelled. We recommend watching the movie with the closed captioning on so children can further develop their word and sound recognition skills and build phonemic awareness.

Remind children that the vowels a, e, i, o, and u can be pronounced with a short or long sound. Review short vowel sounds together and come up with a word that uses each sound, such as mat, let, bit, rot, and cut. Then review the long vowel sounds and come up with a word that uses each sound, such as hate, feed, kite, boat, and cute. Then compare the words mat and mate. How are they alike? How are they different? Remind children that when a word ends in a silent e, the vowel becomes long (or says its name). Explore other words that use the long a with a silent e, such as date, mane, frame, pane, share, case, and bare. Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, including the word have. You may want children to spell each word and draw an illustration for it.

Write the word chair on the board. Review with children that together the vowels ai make the long a sound. Together, brainstorm words that have ai, such as hair, pail, mail, paint, saint, and chain. Encourage children to use rhyming strategies to help them come up with words. Some children will recognize that ai often comes in the middle of the word. Challenge them to come up with a word where ai is in the beginning, such as aim or aid.

Show the month of May on a calendar and invite children to read the name of the month. Explain that together the vowels ay make a long a sound. Brainstorm ‘ay’ words together, such as bay, lay, day, say, and ray. Some children will recognize that ay often comes at the end of the word.

Brainstorm other words with a long a sound, such as paper, bagel, and radio. The general rule is that when a word has more than one vowel and the first vowel is an a, it is long. There are many exceptions to this rule, however, so beginning readers should pronounce words in different ways to figure out which pronunciation sounds correct. Write the words acorn and angel on the board and have children read them out loud. Explain that when an a is at the beginning of a word, it might have a long sound. Brainstorm other words that follow this rule, such as apron and April. Remind children that when they encounter a new word, they should try pronouncing it in different ways. Encourage them to keep a notebook of new words and inspire them to read and write every day to help them develop their skills.