Paddy’s Playful Pay Day

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Courtney Macurdy

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the vowel correspondence ay = /A/. For students to master the ay = /A/ correspondence, they must have a basic understanding of spelling and word pronunciation. In this lesson, students should be able to recognize, spell words using letterboxes, and read words containing the correspondence ay = /A/. They will use games to remember the phrase Pay Day using fake money from the board game. The students 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: 20 colored fake money from the game Pay Day; 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: d, a,y, w, l, a, k, p, s, t, r, c, e; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: day, play, Kay, pay, stray, cake; decodable text: Paddy’s Pay Day, and 20 assessment worksheets.


1. Teacher says, “Reading starts by breaking up and understanding letters then putting them together to make words. We have already learned to read long A vowel words like cake, ape, sake, and Amy but today we are going to learn about ay saying the long A also. When I say /A/ think about the play Pay Day money because pay and day both have the ay= /A/ sound.

2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of ay=/A/, we need to practice hearing it in words.  Listen to the word “okay”. Do you see how there are four letters but you only hear three sounds? When the a is next to the y, they combine and make the A sound. Everyone say A. Now, look at your partner’s mouth when they say A. Make sure all of our mouths look the same. Everyone say “play”. Watch your mouth and listen to how there are only three sounds made.

3. Say: What if I want to spell the word stray? The stray puppy walked up to Amy and me. Stray means lost in this sentence. Next, we need to know how many boxes we need for our letterbox. How many phonemes are in ‘stray’? Let’s count: /s//t//r//A//. I need 4 boxes. I heard

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//r//A//. I think I heard /t/ so I’ll put a t right after the s. One more

before the /A/, I think it sounds like a roaring /r/. I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//t//r//A//.] The missing one is /ay/.

4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with

two boxes for ‘day’. What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? [Observe progress.] The teacher will pronounce the remaining words listed below and have the children wave their fake money in the air when they hear the /ay/=A sound to model the A sound in the words. [Allow children to spell remaining words: Kay, pay, stray, play, and review word cake].

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


6. Say: You’ve done a great job reading words with our new spelling for ay=A. Now we

are going to read a book called Paddy’s Pay Day. This is a book about a dog named Paddy who is in the circus. He goes shopping and buys several things! I wonder what Paddy will buy? 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 aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.] Finally, each students will take their fake money and when Paddy buys something in the book, the students will return some money acting like they are buying it too.

7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell ay=/A/ I want to see how

you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, there are several clues to the picture shown. Your job is to use the clues and the picture to figure out which ay word fits correctly. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]


Assessment worksheet:

Day, Alexandra. Paddy’s Pay Day. Penguin Group, 1989.

Craig, Kimberly. Ellie the Elephant.

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