Activities for Teaching Long Vowel Teams in the Primary Classroom

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When it comes to teaching long vowel teams in the primary classroom, incorporating many different engaging activities is a must! If you are looking for some ideas and teaching strategies for teaching long vowel pairs, you have come to the right place!

Ideas for teaching vowel teams in the K-2 classroom


First, let’s talk about introducing the vowel teams to students. First, it is important to put the main focus on the five long vowel sounds. This will lead them to tap into prior knowledge, so that they can grasp the concept that ai and ay make a long A sound.  Besides introducing the graphemes to students that make each long vowel sound, it is also important to introduce new vocabulary too. There probably will be many familiar words when it comes to working with vowel teams, but there will probably be some new words too. Using pictures help a bunch with that!

long vowel team vocabulary cards

Modeling is an effective way to introduce these long vowel teams. Interactive anchor charts are a good tool for the job.  Incorporating sorting can make this interactive and will be more engaging for students than just telling them. That way, you can involve students by having them come up and put a word on the chart.

long vowel team anchor chart

Once students are familiar with many words containing vowel teams, one activity idea is to have them sort with some vocabulary cards. It is important to have visual representation at this point when working with young readers who are just learning their vowel teams. The focus at this time is really getting them to discern between the long vowel sounds and to become familiar with the different graphemes. Later as students master this aspect, they can go on to sort between ai and ay words to challenge them more and build up their spelling skills too.

Sorting long vowel teams

Another activity involves students identifying where the long vowel sound is in the word. Is it in the beginning, middle, or end? Students can use those vocabulary cards again, a fun party food tray, and some erasers to show the location of the sound. Students can use this activity in a center with a partner or on their own, or you can also have them work with you or an assistant in a small group with this also.

long vowel teams phonemic awareness activity

For whole instruction, you can also do an activity where students identify where the long vowel sound are located in the word. Simply say a word. Then ask if it is in the beginning. Students stay quiet if the answer is no or clap if the answer is yes. You repeat the question for both middle and end too. If you want to add an element of fun, you can let students use some clappers or even some cymbals instead.

clap for long vowel teams

Another activity is to use a phonics interactive notebook. This is a way for them to journal about the vowel teams, and it offers a way for them to revisit the concepts later. Students can sort between long o and not long o.

long o vowel team interactive notebook sorting activity

They can also avoid a shark “ai”tack by sorting long ai and not long ai.

long a vowel team activity with shark sorting

Students can also do some sorting on paper too.

sorting long u

Additionally, they can also play fun dice games to distinguish between long and short vowel sounds.

long vowel team games

Incorporating part or all of these activities should have students firmly familiar with the long vowel teams and the long vowel sound that each one makes.

Moving on to More Depth with Vowel Teams:

Once students show mastery of distinguishing between different long vowel sounds, they are ready to start word building. This is when you switch focus to the different vowel teams such as ai and ay. It is important that they know that ai makes a long a sound and ey makes a long e sound. That helps them with their decoding skills during reading tremendously! Also, at this point, they will also start to discern more between whether beach is spelled b-ea-ch or b-ee-ch.

There are many different activities they can do to help them learn the vowel teams. While no prep printables can be helpful, make sure to incorporate lots of fun games, hands-on activities, and even some technology.

Here are some ideas for hands-on activities for teaching vowel teams:

Students can do word building. It is a good idea when first getting started that they have some visual cues to help them out. Laminated word work cards are very helpful, and you can always mix them up. One day, they can use magnetic letters, another day they can use tiles, and another day they can use dry erase markers. They can also use the vocabulary cards to check their work with these.

ways to use vowel team word work cards

Puzzles are another activity they can do. Not only does that offer a way to have a visual cue, but it is also self-correcting.

long vowel team puzzles

Students can also use that interactive anchor chart as a center activity.

long vowel teams anchor chart

Games are another fun way for students to practice vowel teams.  They can spin and graph.

spin and graph vowel team activity

You can also involve some printables that include hands-on activities too. Worksheets do not have to be boring! Students can pull out some bingo daubers to select the vowel team.

long vowel teams bingo dauber activity

They can also practice reading words with spinning and sorting activities that have them pairing words next to pictures to show that they are reading those words!

long vowel teams spinning activity

matching words and pictures for vowel teams

Once they are showing some mastery, they can build full words. This involves a little bit more critical thinking, but it also involves some hands-on action!

building words with vowel teams

If you take some ice cream wooden sticks and index cards and write the vowel teams and alphabet letters on them, students can use these for building words and reading them.

vowel team ice cream stick activity

vowel pair matching game

For those with some computers, tablets, or iPads, you can also have them do some digital word building. If you want some accountability, simply use some recording sheets.

long vowel digital word work

Click here for the digital word building activity for vowel teams.


You can always create things with these ideas for your personal classroom use if you are into DIY. However, I do have many of these activities in a bundle and sold in individual sets in my store if you would like to save a huge amount of time.

long vowel team bundle

You can find the bundle by clicking here or on the picture. If you are interested in one of the individual sets, you can either click on one of the images above or link to it from the bundle. Please note that the vowel teams bundle does not include the digital word building resource. You can find that separately by clicking here.

I hope these teaching suggestions and activity ideas help you out in your classroom! If you would like more teaching ideas sent to your email, make sure to sign up. You will also receive a free set of long vowel and short vowel task cards for signing up! Click here to sign-up for those free task cards! 

activities for teaching long vowel teams


Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

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Jolene 🙂







Engaging Alphabet Activities, Ideas & a Free Alphabet Flip Book!

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Alphabet Activities and Ideas

Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to share some engaging alphabet activities and ideas to help students learn those letters and beginning sounds.  Ideally, all first graders should come to class knowing these. Even in kindergarten, they really should know these. However, you know there is always at least one that is having a hard time with this very important foundational MUST. It is for that reason that I have a bit of an obsession with scouting alphabet activities for children to help them get over this hurdle. And well, maybe it has grown kind of unnatural, lol! I mean, giving a lady stink eye because she grabbed that Beanie Baby at the yard sale that stood for the missing letter I needed for my alphabet stuffed toy collection might have been overboard, lol! Sorry lady, but I saw it first! Or getting excited like a kid to see a bin of tiny knick knack toys that might help complete my collection of small alphabet manipulatives at my age is not very becoming, haha! Ok, so I have an abnormality with the alphabet. But maybe it is not. See, I want to see all kids succeed, and if they are going to succeed, they need their alphabet foundation to be solid. I believe it is important to find multiple ways to teach the alphabet to keep it interesting for students struggling in this area.

With that said, here is some alphabet teaching inspiration to keep that alphabet instruction engaging, hands-on, and fun! I also have a free alphabet resource to share with you also.


Activity #1 Alphabet Stuffed Toys

Stuffed Animals to Represent Alphabet Letters

These are handy for the letter of the week or letter of the day. You can let those who are struggling to learn their letters hold them too! You can use these as part of a sorting activity. Students can lay the pictures that make the same sound as the alligator by the alligator doll. You can have students place them in alphabetical order. I did my collecting of these at yard sales.

Activity #2 Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Students do a scavenger hunt for alphabet letters.
Snag up some small notebooks. I snagged up a pack at the Dollar Tree with several in one pack. Students can use them to record words they find that start with that letter. They can also illustrate some of the words too.

Activity #3 Alphabet Art

Add cups of small items in an alphabet center for students to use to form the letter of the day (or week). Then have them make a textured rubbing later on after it is dried. Sorry for no pic on that one yet.


Activity #4 Alphabet Formation with Toys

Forming Alphabet Letters with Toys

Have them line up those toys on a letter card! This duals as a fun sensory activity, and helps students who are struggling with remembering how to form those alphabet letters.


Activity #5 Beaded Letter Chains

Students form alphabet letters with bead chains


Another method similar to the toy formation is to to use some pony beads to form bead chains in different sizes. Students can then use them to form letters. For struggling students, you can provide some letter mats for them to form them on top.


Example of the different size bead chains


Here is the different size bead chains I used for the letters. You will want multiples of each size, of course! If your unsure on what sizes to create, if you do have some letter mats, you can use those to help you make the different sizes needed.


Activity #5 Alphabet Cards

Child with alphabet cards


I know this is nothing super original, but I just wanted to remind you how easy it is to create alphabet games with a deck of alphabet cards. All you need is two cards for each letter. These are a must-have for playing a game of go-fish or match. Easy to set-up. Easy to store. Effective and fun! You can also get some letter cards and some with the beginning sound pictures and have students play some sort of matching game with those. For more of a challenge, if you got some pictures of animals and things that represent a beginning sound with no letter, students can match letters to those. You can usually snag up a set of alphabet cards for a $1 too, so very cheap! 🙂


Activity #6 Alphabet Manipulatives

Students can have multiple, small trinket toys that represent targeted letters. Students can sort them by beginning sound by simply matching them by a letter card.  Students can have an alphabet journal and illustrate one of these under each letter too!


Activity #7 Alphabet Shaped Flip Books

Students enjoy creating alphabet books! The ones I created have 12 different activities for each letter. If you don’t have time for that many activities for each letter, you can always choose from the different activities easily.  They can stand solo as a book or be used in an interactive notebook. Best of all, you get a lot of activities stored on just a single page in an interactive notebook! It also really helps because students can revisit their interactive notebooks and take ownership of their work because it becomes a published work. You can find the alphabet bundle by clicking here.

Alphabet Interactive Notebook Craft Book

Click here or on the picture to link to the Alphabet Book Bundle

Sample of Alphabet Interactive Notebook Page

Sample of Alphabet Find the Sound No Prep Activities

Activity #8 Alphabet Soup

Ideas to Go with Alphabet Soup


This is a very popular activity (and I am not sure who came up with it, so I can give them credit). Put some magnetic letters in a bowl or pot, give students some spoons, and let them scoop up letters. Their response to what they scoop up is very versatile. Students can then write the letters, form the letters with some clay, or form words with the letters. They could also collect all the letter a’s to make a big letter a. So many possibilities!

Activity #9 Sort the Letters

Letter Sort
Get some letter beads or any letter form that you can fit many into a cup, and let students sort them into cups.

Alphabet Interactive Notebook Craft Book Freebie


You get the letter A Flip Flap Book for FREE when you sign-up for my free newsletter! Get the free letter A book by clicking here or on the picture.
Thanks so much for stopping by The Candy Class!

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Jolene 🙂