Ah! cries the baby!

Beginning Reading Lesson

By Carley Leavitt



Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short 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 (Baby crying), 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 baby crying; cover-up critter; whiteboard or smartboard, Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: a, t, c, n, g, l, d, b, r, q, u, s, s, m, h; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: at, can, glad, brag, quack, smash; decodable text: Pat’s Jam, and assessment worksheet.



1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Today we are going to learn about the short a and the mouth movements we do in order to say /a/. When I say /a/ I think of a baby crying, “ah”! [show graphic image]. Now let’s look at the spelling of /a/ that we’ll learn today. We use the letter a to spell /a/.


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 jar drops and my tongue is down. [Make vocal gesture for /a/.] I’ll show you first: apple. I heard a say its name and I felt my jaw drop and my tongue goes down. There is a short a in apple. Now I’m going to see if it’s in sweet. Hmm, I didn’t hear a say its name and my jaw didn’t drop. Now you try. If you hear /a/ say, “Ah, I hear it.” If you don’t hear /a/ say, “Ah? That’s not it.” Is it in mask, school, meet, mad, splash? [Have children make their jaws drop when they feel /a/ say its name.]


3. What if I want to spell the word splash? “I like to splash my sister when I swim in the pool.” Splash means to throw water in this sentence. To spell splash in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /s//p//l//a//sh/. I need 5 boxes. I heard that /a/ just before the /sh/ so I’m going to put an a in the 4th 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//p//l//a//sh/. I think I heard /p/ so I’ll put a p right after the s. One more before the /O/, hmm . .. /s//p//l//a//sh/, I think I heard /l/.  I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//p//l//a//sh/.] The missing one is /sh/. So I put both letters s and h in the last box. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with mad on the top and model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the a; that part says /a/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: m-a, /ma/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /ma-d/. Oh, mad like “I was mad at my sister because she hit me.”



4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for at. Like, “I was at the party last night”. 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: can, “I need to open my can of soup”; can. [Allow children to spell remaining words: glad, brag, quack, smash.]  


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/: a. Now we are going to read a book called Pat’s Jam. Pat and Pam are rats and they are hungry. They go to the grocery store to get some ham but when they get in car, it is out of gas!! What are they going to do?? How are they going get home?! Let’s pair up and take turns reading Pat’s Jam to find out what happens. [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 Pat’s Jam aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.] 


7. Assessment: I will listen to everyone in the class read. I will call them up individually to my desk and have them read 1-2 pages of Pat’s Jam. I will listen and make notes of miscues during the reading. While I am assessing the students individually, the other students will practice reading with a partner.



Murray PowerPoint: Creating Literacy Design:



Cushman, Sheila, and Patti Briles. Pat's Jam. Dominguez Hills, CA.: Educational Insights, 1990. Print.

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