While there’s no right or wrong order to teach vowel teams ai and ay seems to be a good place to start. They are common, have a clear spelling generalization and a predictable pattern of use.
Using posters to introduce your vowel team
Understanding the position of a vowel team within a word can help students determine which spelling to use. The ay spelling pattern for the /a/ sound most often occurs at the end of a word or first syllable while the ai spelling pattern will occur at the beginning or middle. You’
Unless you draw children’s attention to this, it might be missed.
Posters are great for illustrating this spelling pattern, particularly when the vowel team is highlighted in a different color.
You can easily turn your phonics poster into a word work station by adding a recording sheet. I love making them quarter sized and placing them in a photo frame.
Word walls are useful for helping students see patterns and relationships in words. They can also provide reference support for children during reading and writing activities.
The greater the exposure to the different vowel teams, the more likely students are going to be able to identify the pattern and both read and spell the word correctly.
Practice the vowel teams with motivating activities
Rather than introducing both ai and ay together, start with ai first. Introducing too many vowel teams at once can lead to confusion. Plus students need time to practice and consolidate their learning with a variety of activities.
Children love to be given the opportunity to draw so they find the Read and Draw activitiy below very motivating.
Who doesn’t love highlighters?
Place an assortment of highlighters at a word work station for kids to use with
Spell ai Words requires kids to color the letters to make the word and then write it. The more practice students get with writing the word, the more likely they are to use this spelling pattern correctly in their writing.
Cutting out the letters and pasting them correctly to make a word will also reinforce the ai spelling pattern.
Matching words to word boxes in Find the Word helps children visualize the shape of common ai words.
Kids love to Spin a Picture and read the matching word.
Once I have spent time with the ai vowel team, then I move onto ay. I keep my ay activities similar to ai so I don’t I don’t have to explain the activity all over again. My students know what to do when they see it in a literacy station.
Practice both vowel teams together
After teaching both vowel teams and giving students time to learn them the spelling patterns, it’s time to mix them together. Now you get the opportunity to see all your hard work with teaching each vowel team pay off as your students easily identify which word has an ai or ay spelling.
Purchase a pack
It can be time-consuming to search for all the activities you need to make teaching vowel teams easy.
To help you, I’ve put together a pack that will have your kiddos mastering this concept in no time. And if you’re a British English speller, I’ve included the activities in British English too.
Or grab the bundle of 22 different long vowel combinations.