Fun 1st Grade Spelling Lesson Plan With Word Sorts

Page content

Words sorts are a great way to help your students learn to analyze words to look for spelling patterns. This first grade spelling lesson plans with word sorts can be used as a whole class or in small groups and are easily modified to teach spellers of all levels. This lesson plan focuses on the long ‘a’ patterns of -aCe, -ai, and -ay. It can easily be adapted by changing the patterns and words that you use.


Prior Knowledge

Review the short and long sounds of the letter ‘a.’ Have the children tell you a few words that make each sound.


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.


You can informally assess the students while they are working on the sorts, but you can also give each child a piece of construction paper to glue the final sort onto. If time allows have the children read their sorts to you so that you know if they are able to use the patterns to decode the words and read them correctly. Some students will be able to identify the patterns and sort the words correctly by sight, but will not be able to actually read the words they have sorted. Having the children read the sorts to you only takes a minute and will let you know which students are having trouble reading the words.


  • Copy the sort onto a piece of chart paper and hang it in the classroom. Encourage the children to look for more words to put on the chart as they read independently and in their guided reading groups. Keep sticky notes close by so they can write down the words they find and place them on the chart. After a few days look at their new words together as a class and write them on the chart.
  • After reading a book like Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson to the class, find the long ‘a’ words, write them on index cards and add them to the chart also.

These are just a few ways that you can use word sorts to help improve your students spelling and decoding skills.


Word Sort-Created by Tracey Bleakley

This post is part of the series: Word Work: Spelling and Decoding Activities for First Graders

Use these fun language arts lesson plans and activities to help first graders become skilled spellers and decoders. Find ideas for word sorting, word families and word games to use with your students.

  1. Spelling Lesson Plans Using Word Sorts
  2. Word Family Lesson Plan: Words with -Ack
  3. Language Arts For Primary Students: Make Learning a Game!