*This word sort activity is geared for 1st through 3rd graders, but I have used it up to 5th grade with struggling readers.
Start by making four candy corns with three sections each.:
(Of course you could have kids do this themselves, especially if you're doing it with an entire class. Just mix up the words before telling them what to write on each candy corn. Make sure the pieces will still come together correctly.) Write these words on each candy corn:
- 1st candy corn - bat, magic, rattle (This is the short a pattern.)
- 2nd - game, scare, shake (This is the long a pattern "a consonant e".)
- 3rd - faint, chain, afraid (This is the long a pattern "ai".)
- 4th - day, play, stray (This is the long a pattern "ay".)
Ask your child to read each word aloud and sort the pieces into two piles according to the vowel sound they hear in the middle of the word. This should result in one complete candy corn in one pile and the rest of the pieces in the other pile. The complete candy corn will be the short a sound:
The rest of the pieces all have the long a sound. Now challenge your child to sort these remaining pieces according to the way the vowels look. This should result in three candy corns with three different long a patterns - a-Consonant-e, ai, and ay.
There you have it! Your child has just completed a word sort!
Now ask them to come up with their own Halloween words using the short a or long a sound!
As Amy from One Artsy Mama pointed out in the comments, you could modify this easily for younger readers with rhyming words, beginning sound words, meaning related words, etc.