Yay! Today is the Day we Play!

Beginning Literacy Design

By: Michel Fields



Rationale: This lesson will help the class identify ay= /A/. In order for children to learn fluently, they need to understand the sounds letters make when they are put together.

 In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling ay. They will learn a meaningful representation (shaking arms and hands excitedly), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence ay= /A/.


Materials: Primary paper, pencil, picture of a happy girl with “Yay! Today is the Day we Play!”, Today is Monday by Eric Carle, big letterbox to use as an example in front of the class, small letterboxes for each student, magnetic letters: d, a, y, p, l, m, s, and r, list of words on a poster for them to read and write: day, cake, play, hit, may, hop, say, cat, pray ; assessment worksheet



1. Say: We all want to be wonderful readers, so we have to know how to pronounce the words! Earlier we learned short vowel words with a, like hat, and today we’re going to learn about the long A sound and how when it is with a y it makes A say its name, /A/. When I say /A/, I think of an excited girl saying, “Yay! Today is the Day we Play.” Let’s look at how we can spell /A/. The way we are going to learn today is ay together that makes A say its name. [Write ay on the board.]

2. Say: Before we learn how to spell /A/, we need to find it in some words. When I hear /A/ in words, I hear a say its name /A/. When I say /A/, my mouth opens a little and then closes a little. Let me show you: hay. I heard a say its name and felt my mouth open and close a little. There is a long A in hay. Now I’m going to see if I hear it in hat. I didn’t hear a say its name. This time when I say a word, I want you to say, “Yay! Today is the Day we Play” if you hear a say its name. If you don’t hear a say its name then don’t say anything at all. Is it in cat, way, boat, lay, okay?

3. Say: Let’s work on spelling. What if I want to spell the word play? “Do you want to play outside?” To spell play in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word. I am going to stretch it out and count: /p//l//ay/. I need three boxes. I know that a said its name at the end so I’m going to put the ay in the last box. Does everyone understand why a and y go in the same box? The y tells a to say its name. The word starts with a /p/, so I know to put a p in the first box. Next I hear /l/, like licking a lollipop. That means I put an l after the p and before the ay.

4. Say: I want you to spell the next few words on your own. For the first few words you will need two boxes. The first word is day. “This is the third day of the week.” What should go in the first box?[Let children answer]. What goes in the second box? I am going to walk around the room and check your spelling. The next word is may. You will need two boxes again. Put the letters in the correct letterboxes while I walk around and check. [Children will spell remaining words: way and pray.]

5. Say: Listen to how I read the word play. [Write play on the board]. P-l-ay, play.

6. Say: Now let’s read the words we have spelled together. [Read all the words as a class. Let individuals read a word by themselves.]

7. Say: Great job reading and spelling words with our new sound, /A/! Now I want us to read a book called James and the Good Day. This story is about a boy named James. His morning is off to a good start! What all will James get to do on his good day? [The students will read in pairs while I walk around the room and listen. If we have time we will read the book together aloud at the end.]

8. Say: We’re almost finished! To assess the students’ learning, I will have students come individually to my desk and read a few pages to me. I will listen closely to see if they need any help. I will keep a sticky note for each student with notes about their reading.



1. Murray, Geralyn, “Oh, I didn’t know” http://www.auburn.edu/~murrag1/BRMurrayG.htm

2. Reading Genie Lesson, Rachel Edmundson: It’s May, Let’s Play! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/catalysts/edmundsonbr.html



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