Cry Baby /a/ "Aaaaaaa!"


Beginning Reading

By: Jamie Storey



This lesson teaches children about the /a/ correspondence, and how to read /a/ by associating it with a crying baby. In this lesson students will learn to recognize, spell, and read words with the /a/ sound. They will also be able to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (a baby crying) and the letter symbol A. Students will spell and read words containing /a/ in a Letterbox lesson, along with reading a decodable book that focuses on the /a/ sound.


1. Graphic image of a crying baby

2. Cover-up critter

3. Letter boxes

4. Primary paper

5. Letter tiles (a,t,h,m,p,d,r,g,c,l,s,s,f,b,n)

6. Chart paper with tongue twister written on it ("Andrew and Alice asked if Annie's active animals were angry.")

7. White board and overhead/document cam

8. Worksheet (listed at the bottom of the page)

9. Books for each student (A Cat Nap)

10. List of spelling words on chart paper or whiteboard for the students to read (lap, mat, Sam, gas, bank, glass, crab, splat)



1. Say: "In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. All letters make different sounds as we move our mouths a certain way. Today, we are going to learn about the /a/ sound. When I say /a/, I think of a baby crying, "Ahhhhhhh." (Show sound picture card).

 2. Say: "The letter we are going to learn about today is a." (Have students take out primary paper and pencil). "Let's practice writing a on our primary paper." (Model on the board how to write the letter a)"Start at the fence line and make a curved line down until you touch the sidewalk, but don't stop here. Continue the curve around until you end up where you started. Then draw a straight line back down, and stop on the sidewalk." (As students practice drawing a row of a's, walk around the room observing and checking if they are correctly writing the letter a).


 3. Say: "Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I say /a/ in words, my mouth opens and lengthens, and my mouth looks like a baby's mouth when he/she cries. (Make vocal gesture for /a/.) I'll show you first: class. I heard /a/ and I felt my mouth open and lengthen (make a circle motion around lips). Now I'm going to see if I hear /a/ in school. Hmm, I didn't hear /a/ in school, and my mouth didn't open and lengthen. "That's not it." Do you hear /a/ in head, made, snow, rain, coat, bag, stamp, or lips?" (Have students make a circle motion around their lips when they feel their mouths make the /a/ movement).

4. Say:   "Now I am going to teach each of you a tongue tickler that will help you remember the sound that /a/ makes." "Andrew and Alice asked if Annie's animals were agitated." (I will briefly review what the word agitated means before we say the tongue tickler together). "Let's say it together! Now let's say it again, and if you hear the /a/ sound in a word, I want you to raise your hand. (Repeat tongue twister). Now I want each of you to stretch out the /a/ sound. (Ex: Aaaaaandrew aaaand Aaaaalice…) Good Job!"

5. (Have students take out their letterboxes and letters). Say: "We are going to use what we just learned about the letter a to spell words. I will call out a word and you can spell it using the letterboxes. Before each word I call out I will tell you how many boxes to use.  Each sound or mouth move in the word will go in a box. For example, the word I am going to spell is hat. I will use three boxes (draw three boxes on the board), because it has three sounds. The first sound I hear is /h/. I will place the letter h in the first box (model on board). Now it might help to say the word again to yourself, hatThe second sound I hear is /a/. We just learned the letter a stands for /a/, so I will place the a in the second box (model on the board). The last sound I hear is /t/. I will place the t in the third box (model on board). I spelled the word hat. Now you try." The words I will call out are:  Lap, mat, Sam, gas (3) bank, glass, crab (4), and splat (5).  After the students spell a word, the class will spell the word and I will write it on the board. After writing the words on the board, the class will read each word together.

 6. Now, I will divide the students into partners. I will give each partner a copy of the book, A Cat Nap. Say: This is a story about a boy named Paul who loved to play with his cat Maggie each morning. One morning Maggie was not there, so Paul searched everywhere for Maggie. He searched his house and even the neighborhood. Where could Maggie have gone? Will he ever find her? We must read to find out!

 I will ask each partner to go back and forth reading a page to each other. (Remind students if they are reading and get stuck, that there are things they can do to help themselves). Say: "First, try to read the word by covering parts of it up like I demonstrated for you earlier. Then read the sentence all the way through. Think about if the sentence makes sense. Then change words that do not make sense. After you are finished correcting, always make sure you reread the sentence one time through with the corrections that you made. I will be walking around to help you if you need it."

 7. To end this lesson, I will read the story to the students and we will discuss and talk about the story as we read. The students will reflect on the story. For the next lesson we will use this book by rereading a familiar text.

8. To assess the students they will each be given a worksheet where they will be asked to circle the picture of the objects that contain the a=/a/ sound.  The students must say the name of each picture aloud, and then circle the pictures in which they hear /a/.



"Aaaaaaaaa!" The baby cried. By: Ashley Farrow

"Aaaaaaa," Cries the Baby: Janie Colvin

Book: A Cat Nap. Educational Insights, 1990.


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