The long vowel /a/ sound can become a really complex sound to spell (and read) and includes many tricky spellings. 

Many student will know how to spell the long vowel /a/ sound in words such as


You can find the above patterns (ai & ay) in series 5 of CodeBreakers. They link back into series 1 where the a-e has already been taught.  The above gives a really strong mid and end pattern. It helps bundle the patterns together to put less stress on the working memory and retrieve the spelling choices together. It links into the existing knowledge of a-e (split digraphs, magic e or silent e).

Once your learner reaches years 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 they’ll start to see more complex ways and tricky spelling for the same long vowel /a/ sound. 



This pattern is more irregular and often spells words which are homophones such as ‘weight & wait’. It’s a really useful exercise to collect some visuals for the various homophones and match the words to the pictures, then discuss meaning, to help your learner create their personalised semantic representation of the words.  

In series 6 of CodeBreakers, we start to chunk together the next 3 ways to make the long vowel /a/ (ei, eig, eigh).  Once aware of the additional ways to make this sound, your learner can then sound out words and check the spelling pattern choice in a dictionary.  When reading they can also then recognise this chunk of sound. Again, teaching the 3 patterns together can help bundle this information together for a quicker, more efficient retrieval of information and less stress on the working memory.

I find that often the learner has a visual recall of the word ‘eight’, this can be a good ‘anchor word’, if they can spell it correctly. Help your learner to identify that ‘eigh’ makes the LV /a/ sound, then they can keep removing a letter to form the next 2 patterns in this workbook

It can also be useful to think of this in a visual way

All CodeBreakers workbooks are available for for home or school.  You can also access our CodeBreakers PLAY online games


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