How to Teach the OA and OW Sound

How to teach the OA and OW sound is simple. They both make the long O sound and there are so many fun worksheets, games, activities, and reading passages (including in the forms of puzzles!) you can do to help your students learn them. I will show you a couple of my favorite strategies.

First, let's go over a couple examples of OA and OW words.
  • OA Words: boat, coat, goat, soap, road, coast, goal, coach
  • OW Words: blow, mow, grow, snow, show, glow, throw
If you say these words aloud, you'll notice the OA and OW inside of them says the long O sound. OA usually appears in the middle of a word. OW usually appears at the end of a word. This is a fun, silly worksheet to practice this spelling rule.

Fun OA and OW Worksheets

Worksheets with pictures are the number 1 way I would recommend introducing the OA and OW sound. If the pictures are engaging and kids can easily recognize the words they represent, they are a very effective learning tool for phonics. I make my worksheets super fun so kids don't even realize all of the reading they're doing. They think the pictures are cute and fun to color in, but really they are providing a lot of reading support.

I recommend starting with a very simple worksheet like my "Write the Word" style sheets. Kids simply look at the picture and match it to a word at the bottom. Then, they write it on the line.


I always try to provide differentiation that is effective yet not obvious. As you can see, these worksheets look so similar but the 2nd one is actually a lot harder. It practices OW and OA sounds on the same worksheet. The one on the left only practices OW words. 

You could give the one on the right to your more advanced students and the one on the left to the students who may need a little more support. This way, every child is practicing on their level and can feel happy and successful while doing the same activity. :) I love this specific worksheet because it's very easy to differentiate, it's simple and it's fun. Kids get to color in the pictures and read the words. 

Another fun way to practice matching OA OW words to pictures is by cutting and pasting!

These are a very simple worksheet style where kids cut out the beginning sounds for each word and match it to the ending. Great reading practice!

As you can see, it's really great beginning sounds review too!

You can also provide support for your students by having them highlight the sound you're focusing on IN the word so it's a lot easier to read. If they highlight the OA in all these words, they can know right away that it's the long O sound. This is a great building reading fluency strategy!

See how that makes the OA in each word so obvious? It really helps them be able to zip through the words fluently. Any little trick like that can build their reading confidence like that is GOLD.

For students who take a little extra time each week to master the phonics sounds, I recommend focusing on a couple worksheets and activities that are all OW first. I feel like it's easier since it's at the end of the word. 

Then, focus on a few only OA worksheets. Then, have them do sorts where they can complete it even if they technically aren't reading the word first. It's VERY valuable practice, even if they're not even reading the words! 

They're recognizing the OA and OW within the words and that's a really important skill. It's wonderful if they ARE reading these words while sorting, but the beauty of these is they don't have to. This means ALL your students can feel so successful doing them and, again, it's all about building that confidence. Especially when you start learning the vowel teams.

OA and OW Sorts

Here is a quick sort you can do for sorting OA OW O-E long O sounds.

Like all of the worksheets in my Phonics No Prep Packs, these are NO PREP! :) You simply print them out. Then kids will cut out the words and sort them. 

Reading Sentences with OA OW Words

Once your students have done a lot of work reading WORDS with OA and OW, start on sentences!

Let your students see the words in simple sentences. This is a fun one that gets them thinking and reading!

I love cutting and pasting worksheets for filling in blanks because kids can move them all around. There's no erasing and rewriting. They can move them all around until they all make sense. THEN glue. :) I love how knowing they're going to glue it down makes them check and recheck their answers. Something kids often skip.

If you have some students who need advanced work, but you want them to practice the same skill, I love providing higher level activities too! My crossword puzzles are a favorite and also my A-Maze-Ing Sentences!

These provide a lot of reading practice for the phonics sound. As you can see, there are a lot of OA words in the boxes. But it's a maze! Kids have to read through it to figure out the secret sentence. So much fun! Especially for kids who love puzzles and need a little bit more challenging work.

To sum it up, focus on WORDS first using pictures. Use a lot of pictures! Teach OA and OW at the same time unless it's a student who needs a little extra support. If so, teach OW then OA then mix them. Then, move to sentences. I have worksheets in my Phonics No Prep Packs that practice sentences with picture support, too. That's a nice bridge between words and sentences too. I just didn't want to fill this post with a bajillion pictures like I often do. :) If you DO love scrolling pictures of fun teaching ideas, definitely check out my Giant List of My Favorite Blog Posts and click on the topic you want to see my ideas for. 

Do you want all of the worksheets you saw in this post for OA and OW? Get it here - OA and OW No Prep Pack! I'm so humbled that thousands of people have this pack & use it to teach their students. I hope that you love it if you get it too!

I have packs like this for almost every phonics sound. Check out my Phonics No Prep Packs category on TpT to see if the sound you're teaching next is on there. 

This OA OW pack has over 85 no prep worksheets and activities for teaching the sounds. I love making these fun, differentiated phonics packs and I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoy making them! 

Thank you so much for reading!