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Short a - 1st Grade Phonics


Short a1st Grade Phonics

Short a - Grade 1

The letter a stands for the short a sound you hear in hat.


Short a is a phonics concept taught in grade 1. It refers to the sound made by the vowel "a" in words like cat, hat, and sat. Students learn to recognize and produce this sound, as well as identify words that contain it. Short a is one of the foundational skills for reading and writing and is typically introduced early on in a phonics-based reading curriculum. Activities and exercises that reinforce short a include word sorts, word families, and reading and writing short sentences containing short a words.


  • The short a sound is a short, "open" vowel sound. It is similar to the sound of the letter a in the word "cat".
  • The short a sound is spelled in a variety of ways in English, including:
  • a: hat, cat, sat, map, pan, bat, fat, last, ask
  • ah: path, laugh, bath, branch
  • ar: star, cart, dark, park
  • The short a sound is often found in the middle of words, as in the words "hater", "catnip", and "lastly".
  • The short a sound can also be found at the end of words, as in the words "hat", "cat", and "sat".
  • The short a sound is a very common sound in English. It is found in many different words, including both nouns and verbs.

Here is a list of words that contain the short a sound:
  • * hat
  • * cat
  • * sat
  • * map
  • * pan
  • * bat
  • * fat
  • * last
  • * ask
  • * apple
  • * cake
  • * make
  • * take
  • * game
  • * tame
  • * late
  • * date
  • * fate
Here are some examples of different types of short a words, along with their corresponding spelling patterns: 

  1. CVC words: These are words that have a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, such as "cat," "hat," "map," "bat," and "ran." 
  2. CCVC words: These are words that have a consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, such as "clap," "flag," "bump," and "staple." 
  3. CVCC words: These are words that have a consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant pattern, such as "lamp," "hump," "lift," and "dust." 
  4. Digraph words: These are words that have two letters that make one sound, such as "apple," "back," "crab," "thank," and "stand." 
  5. Blend words: These are words that have two or more consonants blended together, such as "black," "grab," "plant," "stamp," and "craft."

Short a Activity - 1st Grade Phonics

Say each picture name. Select the picture whose name has the short a sound in the middle.


Here are some activities that you can do to help students learn about the short a sound: 
  • Word search: Create a word search puzzle that contains words that contain the short a sound. 
  • Matching game: Create a matching game that pairs pictures with words that contain the short a sound. 
  • Sentence building: Give students a list of words that contain the short a sound and have them build sentences. 
  • Writing: Have students write a story or poem that uses words that contain the short a sound.


Q: What sound does short a make?
A: The short a vowel makes the “ā” sound as in words like “cat,” “map,” and “tan.”

Q: What are some common short a words?
A: Some common short a words are “am,” “at,” “dad,” “mam,” “rag,” “tap,” “camp,” “black,” and “plaid.”

Q: How can you remember how to spell short a words?
A: A helpful trick is remembering short a makes the “ā” sound, while long a makes the “ay” sound as in “play."

Q: What are some short a word families?
A: Useful short a word families include –ap words like “map,” -ad words like “glad,” -am like “ham,” and –ack words like “shack.”

Q: How can you use short a words in sentences?
A: Short a words can be used in simple sentences like “Sam naps at camp” and “The cat has a fat rat.”


  1. Ehri, L. C. (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, findings, and issues. Scientific Studies of reading, 9(2), 167-188.
  2. Murray, B. A., Stahl, S. A., & Ivey, M. G. (1996). Developing phoneme awareness through alphabet books. Reading and Writing, 8(4), 307-322.
  3. Pollard-Durodola, S. D., Simmons, D. C., Simmons, L., Gonzales, M., Taylor, A. B., Davis, M. J., ... & Simmons, L. (2011). The effects of an intensive shared book-reading intervention for preschool children at risk for vocabulary delay. Exceptional Children, 77(2), 161-183.
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