A is for Ape


A Beginning Reading Lesson

Wendy Counts

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence a_e= /A/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling a_e. They will learn a meaningful representation (A is for Ape), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a_e= /A/.

Materials: Graphic image of an ape; cover-up critter; Elkonin letterboxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child: l, a, m, e, t, p, s, h, v, b, r, c, k, o, f, z; list of spelling words on index cards to read: - lame, tap, shave, brace, stake, slave, blob, flame, blaze, scrape, frost, strafe;  decodable text: Jane and Babe, and assessment worksheet.


1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel sounds with a, but let's review a little bit. A used as a short vowel says ahhhhhhh, like you are at the doctor and he asks you to 'open up and say ah'. Let's say it together, ahhhhhh. Do you hear /a/ in map or globe? In beat or tap? In rat or mouse? Today we are going to learn about long A and the silent e signal that is used to make A say its name, /A/. When I say /A/ I think of a funny little monkey called an ape [show graphic image].

2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /A/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /A/ in words, I hear a say it's name /A/ and my lips spread out wide to make a smile. [Make vocal gesture for /A/.] I'll show you first: flame. I heard a say its name and I felt my lips make a smile [point to smile]. There is a long A in flame. Now I'm going to see if it's in fire. Hmm, I didn't hear a say its name and my lips didn't make a smile. Now you try. If you hear /A/ say, "A is for Ape!". If you don't hear /A/ say, "That's not it." Is it in plane, coal, peel, joke, rain, pants? [Have student point to their smile when they hear /A/ say its name.]

3. Say: Now let's look at the spelling of /A/ that we'll learn to today. One way to spell /A/ is with the letter a and a signal e at the end of the word to tell me to say A's name. [Write a_e on the board or paper.] This blank line here means there is a consonant after a, and at the end of the word there is a little silent e signal. What if I want to spell the word take? "If I take the puppy from the mother dog, she may get upset." Take means to get the puppy and bring it with you in this sentence. To spell take in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /t//a/k/. I need 3 boxes. I hear that /A/ just before the /k/ so I'm going to put the a in the 2nd box and the silent e signal outside the last box. The word starts with /t/, that's easy; I need a t. Now I have one empty box. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /t//a//k/.] The missing one is /k/=k.

4. Say: Now I'm going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You'll start out easy with three boxes for lame. Lame is uncool, like that movie was lame. What should we put in the first box? [Respond to student answer.] what goes in the second box? The third box? What about silent e, did you remember to put it outside of the boxes? Check the spelling. [Observe progress.] You'll need four letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that does in the first box. Then listen for /A/ and don't forget to put the signal silent e at the end, outside the boxes. Here's the word: stare, I like to stare at the television when I watch it; stare. {Allow student to spell word.] Time to check your work. Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board (or on the paper): s-t-a-r-e and see if you've spelled it the same way. Try another with three boxes: chase; The dog likes to chase the squirrels. [Have volunteer spell it in the letterbox for you, check work. Repeat this step for each new word.] Next word. Listen to see if this word has /A/ in it before you spell it: tack; I used a tack to hang the picture on the wall. Did you need a silent e? why not? Right, because we don't hear a say its name. We spell it with our short vowel a. [volunteer spells it on the paper or board.] Did you remember to spell /k/ with a ck? Now let's try four phonemes: blaze; The fire was a blaze in the woodpile. One more then we're done with spelling, and this time you need five boxes: scrape; If I fall down I might scrape my knee. Remember to stretch it out to get this tough word.

5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you've spelled, but first I'll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display index card with scrape and model the reading word.] First I see that there's a silent e on the end; that's my signal that the vowel will say its name. there's the vowel a. it must say /A/. I'm going to use a cover-up to get the first part. [uncover and belnd sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.] /s//c//r/=/scr/. Now I'm going to blend with the /A/ = /scrA/. Now all I need is the end, /p/ = /scrAp/. Scrape; that's it. Now its your turn, let's do it together. [Have students read word in unison. Afterwards, let individuals read one word on the list.]

6. Say: You've done a great job with reading words with our new spelling for /A/= a_e. Now we are going to read a book called Jane and Babe. Babe is a lion that lives in a cage at the zoo. His trainer comes in to wake him but can't seem to get him to wake up. Do you think they will ever get him awake so that the trainer can play with him and take care of him? You'll have to keep reading to find out. Let the student read the book aloud to you, or partners if there are multiple students. Discuss after each page, or have students discuss with one another after each page.

7. Say: That was a fun story. What was Babe's problem? Right, he didn't want to wake up and start the day. Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /A/ = a_e, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, we have some words missing. Your job is to look in the box of word choices, and decide which a_e word fits best to make sense of this very short story. First try reading all the words in the box, then choose the word that fits best in the space. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheet to evaluate individual progress.]



Patterson, Whitney. Easy E Street. Lessons for teaching decoding with long vowels and other vowels.          Reading Genie.

Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-on Approach for                                  Teaching Decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, p. 644-650

Assessment: http://stickyball.net/phonics.html?id=347






















Long A Assessment

Fill in the blank with the word that makes the best sense.

Fay and Jane like to play at the ____(lake, take, pace). One day, they made a maze in the hay. On the same day, they had rain and hail, so Fay and ____ (plane, Jane, tame) ran back to play a ____ (hare, tape, game).

"I will win, and you will fail," said Jane.

"You are vain," said Fay. "I may not play."

"Wait, wait!" said Jane. I will bake a cake. Will you stay?

"I will stay if you bake a ____ (game, tape, cake), but if you are vain, I don't want to play," said Fay.

"Yay! Yay!" said Jane.

____ ( bare, late, Jane) and Fay will play and ____ (race, bake, game) a cake. It rained, but today is a good day.


 Click here for the Awakenings index