Tell the children that there are several spelling patterns for the long 'a' sound. Ask if they can think of any and write down the ones that they say. Write the word name on an index card. Read the word with the class and ask them which letters make the long 'a' pattern in the word. Underline the -ame and tell them that this is the -aCe pattern. On another index card, write the word mail, read it and underline the -ai. Finally write the word say on a card, read it and underline the -ay. Explain that though these are not the only ways to spell the long 'a' sound, they are some of the most common and that they are the patterns that you will be working with. Place each card in the top of a pocket chart to make three columns.
Show the students cards with the words shape, day, rain, lake, tape and wait written on them.
For each word have the children read it out loud and place each word in the correct/matching column. You may also want to underline the spelling pattern in each word so that the children are really focusing on the patterns. For each word to fit into a column, it must look and sound the same as the guide word in that column.
Next, give the students a copy of the long -a word sort and ask them to cut out the words. After placing the three guide words at the top of their desks, have the children work alone or in pairs to read each word and place it in the correct column. While the students are working, monitor their progress and help anyone who is struggling with the task. As they finish sorting check over their work and then have them mix up the words and practice the sort again.