Babies Say Waaa!!

Beginning Reading

Adair Bowman

Rationale: This lesson is designed to teach young children about the short vowel correspondence a = /a/. Children need to make connections to the sound of each letter to become successful readers. In this lesson children will learn the short a sound and participate in a lesson for the students to spell using the short /a/.  They will learn a meaningful representation (baby crying says w/a/), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a= /a/.




Primary Paper

Chart Paper with tongue tickler printed

Letter boxes

Letter tiles (a,b,c,d,f,g,h,n,o,r,t,w)

 Book: A Cat Nap





1. Say: Our goal is become great readers and in order to be able to do that we need to learn our letters and the sounds those letters make. Today we are going to talk about the short a. Have you ever heard a baby crying? What sounds do they make? When babies cry the sound you hear in /a/. That is what you hear. We call the short a, our baby cry a. (Show motions, rub your eyes and make the /a/ sound, also show picture of the cry baby “a”. everyone make the /a/ sound. So when you hear that sound in a word you know that it is an “a”.


2. Say:  I have a tongue twister on the chart paper we are going to say with our sound in it. I’m going to say it first and you all listen to all the /a/ sounds that you hear. “The angry alligator asked Adam for an apple”. Could everyone hear the /a/ sound it that tongue twister?  Now let’s say it all together “The angry alligator asked Adam for an apple.” Very good job now this time let’s say it again stretching out our /a/ sound and make our motion (rubbing eyes) when you hear the /a/ sound. “The /a/ngry /a/ligator /a/sked /a/dam for /a/n /a/pple.”


3. (Detail on how to teach letter box lesson are found on this website Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for at., “We do work at our desk” What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] Let’s try another one but this time you will need three boxes. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for the /a/ sound in the word. Here’s the word: bat, I got a new baseball bat. [Allow children to spell remaining words cat, bag, had, grab, fact, and splash].  


5. Say: Once you have finished we are going to read the words that you all have just spelled. [Have children read words in all together. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.] You need to have a list of the words plus a new word. List of words for students to read: cat, bag, had, grab, fact, splash, bat, blast.


6. Say: You did a wonderful job on reading those words, and now we are going to read a book called A Cat Nap. This is a story about a cat named Tab. Tab is a very tired cat. So, after Tab eats his dinner he decides to take a nap in someone’s sports bag. You’ll have to read to find out what happens while Tab is taking his nap Let’s pair up and take turns reading A Cat  Nap and let’s discover what happens to Tab as he takes his cat nap. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads A Cat nap aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]


7. Say: While you pair read I will call up a student one at a time to listen to you read. Teacher can assess student while listening to reading noting miscues.

8. For an activity for centers put the short a puzzle for children to explore and use.



Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650

Young, Emily. (2007). “Aaaaaa!!! You Scared Me!”

Reading Genie. “Phoneme Pictures for the Short Vowels”.

Assessment worksheet:

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