A Beginning Reading Lesson

Emily Jackson

: 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 (Canadian man saying Aye?), 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 man asking question; cover-up critter; whiteboard, Elkonin boxes for modeling, and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for the child: e, c, d, k, n, o, p, r, s, t; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: rake, cape, Jane, race, babe, lake, state, flake; 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 cap, 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 a funny little Canadian man saying “Aye?” [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 its name /A/ and my mouth almost makes a smile like this. [Make vocal gesture for /A/.] I’ll show you first: rake. I heard a say its name and I felt my mouth make a little smile shape [make a circle motion around face]. There is a long A in rake. Now I’m going to see if it’s in cap. Hmm, I didn’t hear a say its name and my mouth didn’t make a little smile. Now you try. If you hear /A/ say, “Aye?” If you don’t hear /A/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in race, state, sack, lips, coat, nose, face? [Have children make a circle motion around their smile shaped mouth when they feel /A/ say its name.]

3. Say: 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. What if I want to spell the word stake? “I used a stake to keep my tent from blowing away. A stake is like a giant nail. To spell stake 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//k/. I need 4 boxes. I heard that /A/ just before the /k/ 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//k/. I think I heard /t/ so I’ll put a t right after the s. I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//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 two boxes for ate. “I ate before I came to school today.” 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 three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that goes 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: late, I was late today; late. [Allow children to spell words.] Time to check your work. Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board: l – a – t – e and see if you’ve spelled it the same way. Try another with three boxes: cape; Superman wears a cape. [Have volunteer spell it in the letterbox on the front board for children to check their work. Repeat this step for each new word.] Next word. Listen to see if this word has /A/ in it before you spell it: rack; I hung my coat on the rack. 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 front board.] Did you remember to spell /k/ with a ck? Now let’s try 4 phonemes: blade; The ice skate had a sharp blade. 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 poster with stake on the top and model reading the word.] First I see 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 blend sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.] /s//t/ = /st/. Now I’m going to blend that with /A/ = /stA/. Now all I need is the end, /k/ = /stAk/. Stake; that’s it. Now it’s your turn, everyone together. [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 about Babe the lion. He really likes to sleep. Jane works at the zoo where Babe lives. One day, Jane wakes up Babe. Will Babe be angry? We’ll have to read it to find out. Let’s pair up and take turns reading Jane and Babe Jakes to find out if Babe will be angry with Jane. [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, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]

7. Say: That was a fun story. Why was Babe angry with Jane? Right, Jane woke Babe up. What is Babe’s favorite thing to do? Right, sleep. 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 that have a’s in them. Your job is to look at the word choices, and decide which words have the long A sound in tem. Circle your answers. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]

Resources: Kidslearningstation.com (worksheet)


Book: Murray, G. (2006) The Race for Cake. Reading Genie: Race For Cake

Jane and Babe: Book 2 Long a (Phonics Long Vowels Readers)

Publisher: Educational Insights (1990)