"Aaaaa….There's a Spider!"


A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Nicole Lawyer

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence a=/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. They will learn a meaningful representation (pretending they see a spider), 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/.

Materials: Graphic image of spider; cover-up critter; a 'poor mans' whiteboard; Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulative for each child and magnetic letters for teacher: e, c, d, k, n, o, p, r, s, t; list of spelling words on poster: as, cat, last, flat, sprang, craft, plant; decodable text: "A Cat's Nap" 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 e, like pen, and today we are going to learn about short a which makes the sound /a/.When I say /a/ I think of a little girl who sees a spider and says, "Aaaaa…there's a spider!" [show graphic image]. Now let's look at the spelling of /a/ that we'll learn today. The way we show /a/ is by writing it like this a=/a/.

2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I say the sound /a/in words, I feel air coming out of my mouth. [Make vocal gesture for /a/.] I'll show you first: has. I heard /a/ and I felt the air being pushed out of my mouth to make /a/. [I place my hand in front of my mouth so I can feel my breath coming out].There is a short A in mat. Now I'm going to see if it's in same. Hmm, I heard /A/ not /a/ and I didn't feel the air coming out of the back of my throat. Now you try. If you hear /a/ say,"Aaaa…there's a spider." If you don't hear /a/ say, "That's not it." Is it in hat, jam, fan, sad?  [Have children point to a pretend spider when they think they hear /a/.]

3. What if I want to spell the word plant? "I have a plant in my backyard." To spell plant in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /p//l//a//n//t/. I need 5 boxes. I heard that /a/ just before the /l/ so I'm going to put an a in the 3rd box. The word starts with /p/, that's easy; I need an p. Now it gets a little tricky so I'm going to say it slowly, /pp//lll//a//n//t/. I think I heard /l/ so I'll put a t right after the p. Two more before the /a/, hmm . . . /p//l//a//nnn//t/, I think I heard growling /n/. I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /p//l//a//n//t/.] The missing one is /t/.Now I'll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with spoke on the top and model reading the word.] I'm going to start with the short a; that part says /a/. Now I'm going to put the beginning letters with it: p-l-a-n /plan/. Now I'll put that chunk together with the last sound, /plan-t/. Oh, plant, like "That's a really pretty plant!"

4. Say: Now I'm going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You'll start out easy with two boxes for as. "I will take notes as I read." 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.] You'll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /a/. Here's the word: cat, I use to have a cat; cat. [Allow children to spell remaining words: last, flat, sprang, craft.]

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 reading words with our new spelling for /a/. Now we are going to read a book called "A Cat's Nap." A cat names Tab likes to take naps. One day he crawls into Sam's bag to take a nap. Sam takes the bag to a baseball game. What will happen when Sam finds Tab in the bag at the game? Let's read to find out! [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 Jakes Joke 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/, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, you have to trace, read, write and find each word. Your job is to first trace and write the word given to you, the read the word and find a picture of that word. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress].


Assessment Worksheet: http://www.funfonix.com/book1/ffonix_book1_1.gif

Cushman, Shelia. A Cat Nap. Educational Insights. 1990. Thaxton, Wade. (")Adam(('))s Fat Bat.(")

Murray, Bruce. Brush your Teeth with F. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html

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