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A Handy Guide to Long Vowel Sounds

When you teach reading and spelling, it’s a good idea to have a general overview of long vowel sounds. Let’s dive in!

A long vowel is a vowel that is pronounced the same as its name. For example, the word emu starts with the long E sound.

Seems pretty simple, right? But did you know that long vowel sounds can be spelled four different ways and that each way follows a specific spelling pattern?

The overview that follows will help you see the big picture about long vowel sounds as you teach reading and spelling. Read on to discover these useful patterns!

Four Ways to Form Long Vowel Sounds

A vowel at the end of a syllable can be long.
In the word we, as in We love emus, the vowel E is at the end of the syllable and says long E. In these words, the vowel at the end of a syllable is long: hero, hi, music.


Silent E can make the previous vowel long.
In the word cute, as in Emus are cute, the long U sound is formed by adding Silent E at the end of the word. Here are more words in which Silent E makes the previous vowel long: tape, shine, code.


Vowel teams can make long vowel sounds.
Vowel teams are two vowels that work together to make one sound. For example, in the word eat, as in Emus eat seeds, vowel team EA says long E. These words have vowel teams that make a long vowel sound: mail, sheep, soap.


I or O can be long when they come before two consonants.
In the word stroll, as in The emu went for a stroll, the letter O comes before two consonants and says its long vowel sound. In these words, I or O are long before two consonants: kind, gold, child.

So there you go—the four basic patterns for spelling long vowel sounds!

Let’s Dive in a Little Deeper

The chart below illustrates the most common ways to spell the long vowel sounds.

Click to Download a Printable Chart!

Seeing these spellings all gathered in one place is enlightening for those of us who are already proficient readers and spellers. But I would only recommend using the chart for reference, or with an older student who has already mastered most of these phonograms. I would not recommend overwhelming a beginning student by teaching these spellings all at once. Instead, teach these basic patterns to students incrementally, one at a time.

Activities to Teach Long Vowel Sounds

Are you interested in seeing how we teach the four long vowel patterns in All About Reading and All About Spelling? Here is a sampling for you to download and enjoy!

Cute emu holding a preview of Be a Hero

Download “Be a Hero” Activity
(Vowel at the end of a syllable)

Cute emu holding a preview of Find Gold

Download “Find Gold” Activity
(I and O are long before two consonants)

The Bottom Line for Teaching Long Vowel Sounds

When it comes to teaching long vowel sounds, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Long vowel sounds can be spelled four different ways, each following a specific pattern.
  • Teach these basic patterns to students incrementally, one at a time.
  • Keep it fun! Use a wide variety of interesting activities to help your student learn the four patterns for forming long vowel sounds.

All About Reading and All About Spelling walk you and your student through all the steps needed to help your student learn to read and spell. The programs are multisensory, motivating, and complete with everything you need. And if you ever need a helping hand, we’re here for you.

What’s your take on teaching the long vowel sounds? Do you have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

long vowel sounds pinterest graphic

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Jessica

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Thank you for all the great resources!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Jessica! 😊

Barbara McKinnie

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Thank you!

Lori Slaubaugh

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It is so confusing for kids! Thanks for the chart!

Connie

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I *did not* hahah…of course autocorrect would do this on a spelling blog comment. 🤦‍♀️

Connie

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I dis not know the rule about the double consonants making the preceding vowel long! We love AAR and just started AAS. Highly recommend!

Robin E.

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Thank you for recommending All About Reading and All About Spelling, Connie!

Margarita Diaz

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Thank you! This is awesome to help teach my son. I’ll be honest I learned too. A lot I have forgotten since I was younger and stuff like this has helped me help my son.

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Amanda Gustafson

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Love all the fun and helpful resources you offer!

Nichole Thrasher

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This was so helpful!

Allison

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This is great, I love the visual guide!

Lindsay

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This is so great! We are excited to
Start this fall. We will be starting with level 1 for all theeenkids. I think we could all benefit from this program!

Kate

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Thanks for the helpful information!

Joanne

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This looks amazing

Cindy

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Love the All About Spelling method!

Anna

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I love the printable charts and extra activities!

Mary-Ann

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What a great chart!

Jennifer Moran

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I love all your blogs. Thank you so much for all the great info.

Kay Longmore-Lawley

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Great ideas to use with my children

April

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I love that I get to learn right along with my children.

J lawless

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What helpful tools!

Darlene

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Great tips! This will help a lot with her long vowels.

Nicole Jones

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I love the way all about learning guides the parent to teach the children to easily read and spell. It really makes it fun and takes the struggle out. My son LOVES the games and stories. It’s his favorite lesson of the day.

Charlotte

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Thank You!!!!!! I need to read all of this blog:)

bravomomma

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My daughter is working on these now! Thank you for the great tips 😀

Celena C

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Love these activities. Will definitely be using them!

Edith B.

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Knowing all the vowel sounds and where they occur is a game changer. Love AAS!

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