"Aaaaa," Says the Baby!

Emergent Literacy

Kelley Adams

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /a/, the phoneme represented by a. Students will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (cry like a baby) and the letter symbol a, practice finding /a/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /a/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; picture chart with embedded letter and tongue tickler: "Abby the ant wants an apple", drawing paper and crayons; word cards with MAD, TOP, BAG, SIT, PARK, and MAKE; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /a/ (URL link below).

1. Say: Words we write are like a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for. They tell us to move our mouth a certain way to say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /a/.  We spell /a/ with letter a. [show picture-sound card]. A sounds like what you say when a baby cries: aaaaa!

 2. Let's pretend to cry like babies, /a/, /a/, /a/. [Pantomime crying.] Notice where your lips are? When we say /a/, we open our mouths wide!

3. Let me show you how to find /a/ in the word snack.  I'm going to stretch snack out very slowly and listen for /a/.  Sss-nn-a-a-a-ck.  Slower: S-nn-a-a-a-ck. There it was!  I felt my lips open wide. I can hear myself say /a/ in snack.

4.  Let's try a tongue tickler [on chart]. "Abby the ant wants an apple." Everybody say it three times together and open your mouth wide each time you hear /a/. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words as I point to them. "Aaaabby the aaant waaants aaan aaapple." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/A/bby the /a/nt w/a/nts /a/n /a/pple."

5.  [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter a to spell /a/. Capital A looks like a tall building but lowercase a looks like a ball with a stick on its back.  Let's write the lowercase letter a. Start at the fence, draw a little c down to the sidewalk, then draw a line beside it from the top to the bottom of the fence. After I put a smile on your paper, I want you to make five more just like it.

6.  Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /a/ in happy or angry? Shirt or hat?  Pot or pan? Earth or Mars? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words. Open your mouth wide when you hear /a/: class, monkey, sat, paper, pencil, sack.

7.  Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book.  Click, Clack, ABC tells the story of some silly farm animals. Let's find out some of the things they do."  Tell children to open their mouth extra wide whenever they hear /a/.  Ask them what animals start with /a/. Then have them draw pictures of the ones they come up with. Display their work.

8. Show ANT and model how to decide if it is ant or bee: The a tells me to open my mouth wide, so this word is aaa-nt, ant.  You try some: AN: in or an? MAN: man or boy? AD: ad or mad? AM: sam or am?

9.  For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to draw lines to the pictures that begin with a. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words.





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