Short A Words
Vowel sounds come in two varieties: long vowels and short vowels. When it comes to decoding words, beginning readers most frequently start with short vowels. Why? For a few reasons. First, because they are the most common vowel sounds. But short vowels also have fewer spelling variations. That makes it easier to master the sounds before moving on to the more complex long vowels. Some short vowels have multiple common spelling patterns, while others only have one, such as the Short A sound. Let’s take a closer look at the Short A words.
The Short A sound (ă) is an open middle vowel sound. It is formed by pushing the tongue forward, with the tip of the tongue pushing against the back of the lower teeth. When saying the Short A, the jaw is dropped and the mouth is opened wide.
Encourage readers to look in the mirror when saying Short A words so that they can see how their mouth moves.
The Short A sounds like the word "apple."
Children who are just beginning to read and decode words are most likely to encounter the Short A in CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Some examples of Short A CVC words include cat, lab, bad, and gag.
As a child’s decoding skills increase and they encounter longer words, the Short A will appear with letter blends. Some common Short A words include flag, clap, stand, and math.
Pro Tip: Words that contain the letters an and am do not make the typical Short A sound. These are known as “nasalized” vowels because the /n/ and /m/ sounds change the sound of the Short A. Work with your child on recognizing the nasalized A in addition to other Short A sounds.
Below are more examples of Short A words. For Short A word lists and Short A activities, see the activity section after this article.
Children learn to read by blending sounds together. One of the best ways to work on this skill is through the introduction of word families.
A word family is a set of words that share a common feature. For early readers, that common feature is typically the ending sound of the word.
Below is a list of Short A word families to begin with:
Pro Tip: Although words containing “ar” seem like they should be Short A words, they actually fall under a unique category called “r-controlled vowels” that are neither short vowels nor long vowels. The letters "aw" are considered a vowel team, and make a different sound than Short A.
As children’s abilities to blend letters improves, they may move into more complex Short A word families such as
Word families may be presented as a list of words for a new reader to practice decoding, such as the one below.
Understanding the Short A spelling pattern is about more than being able to read a single word containing a short A. It is also about being able to recognize the sound a short A makes in a word. Begin by asking your child to read single words that use the short A sound. Then try stringing several words together to form a sentence. Below is sample decodable text using short A words:
Note that each of these sentences features only CVC words. Once your child has mastered reading CVC words featuring the short A sound, try introducing short A sentences that feature consonant blends. Below are sample Short A decodable sentences using consonant blends:
Pro Tip: Writing sentences without the words such as the, and, and is can be challenging. These words are high-frequency words and are among the first children memorize. Don't be afraid to include them in sentences, but to be sure to help your child read them.
Charge Mommy Books is committed to getting children the resources they need to learn how to read. But we know that not every parent and teacher around the world has access to our printed books. That's why we offer free beginning reader books and resource on our site. Sample resources include:
One of the best ways to practice short vowel sounds is by reading short vowel specific books. While printed passages are good start, the sense of accomplishment a child feels from completing a physical book cannot be rivaled. This achievement can make a child feel like a "big kid."
Grounded in the Science of Reading and designed in consultation with Orton-Gillingham trained literacy specialist Marisa Ware, the Charge into Reading Decodable Readers take the guesswork out of learning to read!
The Short Vowel Beginning Reader Set is perfect for children who know their letter sounds and are ready to begin decoding or "sounding out" words. Each book in the set focuses on a single short vowel sound, building reading confidence one sound at a time. Compelling storylines paired with a strict scope and sequence make for a series that children won't just be ABLE to read, but that they will actually WANT to read.
What is decodable to one child may not be to another. Ask yourself the following questions:
Use our reading assessment to find the right books for your child.
I purchased 6 packs of the CVC set for myself . . . I have to say, I really think these decodables are spot on. I love that they feel like real stories, and there's even some fun activities in the back. They are true decodables and would be the perfect addition to any structured literacy classroom. — Savannah Campbell — K-5 Reading Specialist.
A list of short A words in the -AB word family.
A list of short A words in the -AD word family.
A list of short A words in the -AG word family.
A list of short A words in the -AM word family.
A list of short A words in the -AN word family.
A list of short A words in the -AP word family.
A list of short A words in the -AT word family.
A list of short A words in the -AX word family.
Being able to figure out what letters are missing from a word is important for building word recognition and fluency. This Short A activity provides the short vowel sound for each word, but asks the child to identify the beginning letter (also called the “onset”) and ending letter of the word.
One of the earliest steps in reading is recognizing the sounds that go into a word. Often this is achieved by tapping out each letter sound in a word. This Short A activity encourages children to sound words out and determine which letters work together to create a word.
Understanding rhyming words is rooted in understanding what makes two words the same and what makes them different. This Short A activity encourages children to create a new rhyming word by changing a single letter at the beginning of a word to form a new Short A word.
One of the first steps to reading is learning not only what their letters look like, but the sounds they make. This Short A activity encourages children to find Short A words by saying the name of each picture out loud and then following the path of Short A words to the end.
Decoding text is an important part of reading comprehension. That means asking a child to read sentence without any visual cues, and then asking them what it said or what it meant. This Short A activity uses similar Short A words to engage children in decoding and understanding the full sentence, rather than just a single word.
Rhyming word families are groups of words that feature either a common spelling pattern or a combination of letters with the same sound. This Short A activity focuses on the -AN word family, encouraging children to identify the different -AN words formed and match them to the appropriate pictures.
One of the earliest steps in reading is recognizing the sounds that go into a word—and identifying the letters that form each sound. This Short A activity encourages children to determine the letters that make up a word and find them within the line of letters.
Writing letters means understanding how they are formed. And that means understanding how big or small a letter should be, and how high or low a letter should extend. Try drawing the sky, plane, grass, and worm lines for your child. Then teach them what lines each letter should touch!
Kids learn to hear rhyming words early on, but being able to find them in writing isn’t always as easy. Learning to recognize patterns in words is a major step toward building a vocabulary of easy-to-read words. This Short A activity focuses specifically on learning to identify words that fall into the -AT word family.
The ability to sound out words and figure out what letters they include is one of the first steps in reading and spelling. Ask your child to say each picture word. Then work with them to figure out what ending sound the word makes and match it to the words in the word bank. This Short A activity focuses on -AD, -AP, -AN, and -AT word families.
Sounding out words (and ultimately reading) begins with understanding letter sounds. When several words all end with the same spelling pattern, this is called a Word Family. This Short A activity encourages children to identify picture words that belong to the -AM word family.
One of the first things children learn is how to sing their ABCs, but being able to sing a song and being able to put letters IN ORDER is not the same. This short A activity focuses on the -AT word family and encourages children to actively think about the alphabet and what order the letters appear in.
Decoding words is about being able to break a word apart into its phonetic components and then blend them together into a word that can be understood. This Short A activity encourages children to decode three similar Short A words to identify which matches the picture.
Rhyming word families enable early readers to develop a base on which they can build by supporting greater predictability with reading and spelling. This Short A activity encourages children to focus not on the spelling of a word, but on the sound it makes.
Drawing a correlation between phonetic sounds and the letters that appear in words is one of the first steps in reading. This Short A activity encourages children to recognize beginning letter sounds by matching the beginning sound they hear when saying the word with the correct beginning letter..
A downloadable set of Short A Word Family cards for use at home or on the go! Just print, cut, and start practicing reading short A words!
A comprehensive list of short A word families, with all short A word families on one page.