The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade


Picture this: you look down at your plan book, and 6 weeks of long vowel activities for your 2nd grade students are DONE for you! At the end of the six weeks, students are decoding and encoding long vowel patterns like absolute experts. Let’s make this dream a reality by following these easy steps below! Bonus points: this is all aligned with the Science of Reading!

Or… skip the blog post and let my second grade phonics bundle take care of your phonics plan for the entire year!

The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade

Timeline for Teaching Long Vowel Patterns

Generally, 2nd graders need about a week to learn each long vowel letter. I start with a review of CVCe words (also known as silent e or magic e words), and then go in alphabetical order:

  • Week 1: Magic E Vowel Patterns
  • Week 2: Long A Vowel Patterns
  • Week 3: Long E Vowel Patterns
  • Week 4: Long I Vowel Patterns
  • Week 5: Long O Vowel Patterns
  • Week 6: Long U Vowel Patterns

While this timeline should work for MOST students, you will also need to modify this plan to re-teach patterns to students who are struggling.

At the end of each week, assess both encoding (writing or spelling) and decoding (reading or phonics) of words.

As long as 80% of your class has shown 80% mastery or above, you are ready to move to the next pattern.

If not, spend a few days reteaching the patterns and then test again.

Starting with CVCe, Magic E or Silent E Patterns

The most common long vowel pattern to start with is CVCe words. This is the same for ALL vowels and a great way to briefly introduce the long sounds for every vowel.

Most 2nd grade students have already mastered this Science of Reading aligned phonics skill in first grade, but many second graders might have forgotten or need the quick review.

Going slow to go fast is KEY for little learners. Even though some of your kids might master this right away, it is a great way to boost confidence in your learners while also reviewing important skills.

One way to make this week more challenging is by adding words that have blends, digraphs or are multi-syllabic words.

The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade - Phonics and Fluency Ideas for Teaching Long Vowels - CVCe Anchor Chart, Silent E Anchor Chart, Long A, Long E, Long I, Long O, Long U Anchor Charts

Long Vowel Patterns to Cover in 2nd Grade

There are MANY different long vowel patterns that students need to master in second grade after learning CVCe words.

The most important that I typically like to cover for each vowel are:

  • Long A Vowel Patterns: ay, a, ai and review a_e
  • Long E Vowel Patterns: ea, ee, ie, and review e_e
  • Long I Vowel Patterns: igh, ie, y, and review i_e
  • Long O Vowel Patterns: oa, ow, oe/o, and review o_e
  • Long U Vowel Patterns: ue, ew, u, and review u_e

While some of these patterns might have been covered in first grade as well, students definitely do not retain all of these patterns and absolutely need to go over each one. ALL of these patterns are important if you are looking to follow a Science of Reading aligned curriculum.

Similar to teaching silent e or magic e words, you can add a challenge by adding words with blends, digraphs, inflectional endings or by choosing harder multi-syllabic words.

The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade - Phonics and Fluency Ideas for Teaching Long Vowels - Centers, Decodable Passages and More

Decoding Long Vowel Activities: Phonics and Fluency

Decoding is the ability to break down words and work toward reading them fluently. Students need to be able to do this BEFORE they will be able to encode (spell or write) words.

It is important to start SLOW and basic, then work toward harder decoding skills such as decodable readers or decodable passages.

My favorite long vowel activities for phonics are:

  • Sounding and Blending Words – Break words apart or look at words that are already broken apart. Say each sound and then practice blending the words together.
  • Squish It and Sound It – Make phonics a multi-sensory experience by letting students use balls of play-doh to build a representation of each sound, and then squish and say the sounds aloud. When they are done, they are again blending all the sounds together. Adding a sensory component helps students visualize breaking words apart by individual sounds before blending.
  • Say It, Find It, Clip It – Once students have mastered segmenting the sounds, they are ready for something a bit harder. Help students read whole words and then match the words to a picture. This helps check a student’s understanding of blending. Students have to be able to blend the word and match it to a picture in order to prove they understand what they are reading.
  • Partner Games – I like to play different games with partners where students take turns reading long vowel pattern words aloud. There are many fun games to pick from such as roll and read, attach four, snakes and ladders and race to the top. The concept behind each game is the same – students take turns reading a word aloud. Their partner double checks that they read the word correctly, and then they switch turns.

These activities can be practiced in whole group, small groups or independently. Typically, I think these work BEST first introduced in a small group and then reviewed independently either during seat work time or during literacy centers.

My favorite long vowel activities for fluency are:

  • Decoding Long Vowel Words – Use picture clues to slowly segment and blend words. Then, have students read each word altogether without segmenting each sound.
  • Word Fluency – Have students practice reading as many words that follow the same set of patterns as they can. Either see how many they can read in a minute, or see how long it takes them to read to the bottom of the page.
  • Sentence Fluency – Use decodable sentences to see how students are doing with reading the various long vowel patterns. Have students read sentence by sentence. Use the same sentences every day to help build fluency!
  • Decodable Passage Fluency – This is by far the hardest skill. Give students a decodable passage. A decodable passage means that students are not being exposed to ANY pattern they haven’t practiced in any other words! Students can practice reading the passage each day at school or at home to help them better understand the long vowel patterns.

I like to do one of these activities each day in my whole group lesson. Based on what level my readers are, I also use the exact same activities as my reading warm ups each day.

My readers that struggle the most use the long vowel word lists with picture clues all week. My next group can do the word fluency, the next group does the sentence fluency and my highest group works on the decodable passage fluency (if needed).

The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade - Decoding and Encoding Words

Encoding Activities: Spelling and Writing

Being able to encode words means that students can correctly spell and write these patterns in various long vowel activities.

  • Write the Room – This is a great way to move from decoding to encoding. Students will look at a picture, say all of the sounds out loud and then write each sound they hear in the word down.
  • Partner Games – When students have already mastered decoding long vowel patterns, they can use the same partner games to encode words. Rather than having students READ the word aloud, have students read the word, have a partner cover it, and then have the student spell the word. The partner can let the student know whether they spelled the word correctly or not. This fosters both accountability and FUN in your classroom.
  • Spelling Worksheets – There are many fun ways to practice spelling words and many fun long vowel activities on worksheets you can use to practice encoding long vowel words. Students love things such as rainbow writing, bedazzling words, pyramid or sailboats and so many more fun ways to practice spelling their words.
  • Word Sorts – Word sorts are an important way for students to see WHERE various patterns fall in words. This is important because some long vowel patterns come only at the end, in the beginning or in the middle of words.

Typically, most encoding practice needs to be done in a small group or individually for the best instruction. This helps students truly practice the patterns and quick feedback from the teacher helps to address any misconceptions right away.

Try doing this activities in your small groups first before moving to independent literacy centers.

The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade - Partner Games for Fluency Practice, Spelling Practice or Decoding and Encoding Phonics

Assessing Mastery with Long Vowel Activities

You will want to check for both decoding and encoding mastery.

Assessing Decoding: You can check for decoding mastery by having students do a fluency test. You can use either a word list, decodable sentences or a decodable passage to test their ability to decode long vowel patterns. Accuracy is JUST as important, if not more important, as words per minute during fluency. It is also important students know what they are reading. Ask them to tell you about what they read when they are done. They don’t need to know EVERY detail, but they should recall some.

Assessing Encoding: The most common way to assess encoding is by doing a spelling test. If you don’t want to do a traditional spelling test, you can assess how they are using these patterns in their everyday writing to see if the knowledge is transferring.

The Most Effective Long Vowel Activities for 2nd Grade - Long Vowel Unit


Long vowel activities can seem daunting to plan, but if you are consistent and keep a routine, both you and your students will soar!

Want to grab all of the fun activities you saw in this post? My second grade phonics bundle will take care of your phonics plan for the entire year! Or grab each unit below:

Need ideas for teaching short vowels before you tackle these long vowel activities? Be sure to check out my guide to teaching short vowels!

Emily - The Mountain Teacher

Share your thoughts...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *