Babe ate the grape in space!


A Beginning Reading Lesson

Erin Frasier


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 (Fonzie’s greeting AAA), 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 thumbs up Fonzie saying ‘A’; cover-up critter; Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and teacher: Letters: p,l,a,c,e,s,n,k,t; list of spelling words on whiteboard to read: ape, place, space, snake, plane, skate ; 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 words with a, like hat, and 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 Fonzie from Happy Days saying AAAA and lift up his hands [show graphic image]. Now let’s look at the spelling of /A/ that we’ll learn 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.]  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.


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 its name /A/ and my lips make a little A shape like this. [Make vocal gesture for /A/.] I’ll show you first: make. I heard a say its name and I felt my mouth open and my tongue against my bottom teeth, make a little a. There is a long /A/ in make. Now I’m going to see if it’s in mat. Hmm, I didn’t hear a say its name and. Now you try. If you hear /A/ say, AAAA and lift your hands up like Fonzie. If you don’t hear /A/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in grace, place, pants, love, and space? [Have children make a Fonzie hand gesture when they feel /A/ say its name.] Let’s also try this tongue twister to help us remember. (Babe ate the grape in space) Have children say it with you. Repeat. Did you hear A in the words?


3. What if I want to spell the word stage? “I will play my guitar on stage.” Stage means a place to perform in the sentence. To spell stage in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /s//t//A//g//e/. I need 4 boxes. I heard that /A/ just before the /g/ so I’m going to put an a in the 3rd  box and the silent e signal outside the last box. The word starts with /s/, that’s easy; I need an s. Now it gets a little tricky so I’m going to say it slowly, /s//t//A//g//e/. I think I heard /t/ so I’ll put a t right after the s. Then the vowel A. I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//t//A//g/ .] The missing one is /g/.

Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with grade on the top and model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the a_e; that part says /A/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: g-r-a_e, /grA/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /grA-d/. Oh, grade, like “My teacher gave me a grade in school.”


4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for ape. An ape is a kind of monkey, “I saw the ape in the zoo.” What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? What about silent e, did you remember to put it outside the boxes? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need four letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell 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: place, “I have a place to live”; place. [Allow children to spell remaining words: space, snake, plane, skate.] 

5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]


6. Say: You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /A/: a_e. Now we are going to read a book called Jane and Babe. This is a story of a girl named Jane and a lion named babe. Babe is a tame lion in a cage. Jane tries to wake Babe. Jane plays with Babe. Let’s pair up and take turns reading Jane and Babe to find out what about them. [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 Jane and Babe aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]


7. Say: 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 pictures. Your job is to circle the pictures that show the a_e word. First try deciding what the picture is, then think about how that word sounds. Sound it out and see if you hear the Fonzie AAA. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]



Locklier, Amy, Mike likes Kites. :

Cushman, Shiela. Jane and Babe.  CA,  Educational Insights (1990). 8 pp. 

Assessment worksheet:


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