Baby Sally is Upset Again!

Rationale: In teaching students to read or write, they must understand the graphemes and the phonemes that make up words. Short vowels are hard to remember because they do not say their names. The phoneme /a/ is a great place to start! This lesson will help the students identify /a/ and recognize it in oral or written form. We will practice using /a/ in reading, finding games (mad or mud), and in handwriting.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil, chalkboard and chalk, blank white index cards, drawing paper, crayons, assessment handout, Matt and Rags book.

1. Begin lesson by talking about our language, the letters of the alphabet and learning what mouth moves each letter makes. We will begin with /a/ because its mouth move is in the first letter of the alphabet. Do not be discouraged if it takes you a while to recognize it in words because it took me a while, too!
2. “Do you have any baby brothers or sisters who seem to cry all the time? When babies cry, they seem to make an /aaaa/ sound. Everybody say it with me, /a/.”
3. I’m going to read you a funny sentence, you listen for the /a/ sound and try to count how many times you hear it. “Ally has an alligator named Andrew who acts like an animal acrobat.” As I write it on the board, I will say it with you. Now let’s count the /a/ sound in this sentence. (As you count the /a/ sound, accentuate the it in each word.) Very good, we said the /a/ sound ten times.
4. “Alright class does anyone know what letter makes the /a/ sound? Right, the letter a!
 Now let’s practice writing the letter a. Start a little below the fence and curve toward the door in our classroom, keep on going past the sidewalk a little bit (should look like a c.) Now draw a straight line from the top of the curve (fence) to the bottom of the curve (sidewalk). Everybody practice writing your a. Let’s say /a/ as we write each one.”
5. Pass out blank white squares for students to write an a on with a dark crayon and a straight line on the back of each card (-). Have the students listen to the a list of
 words (one at a time) and hold up the a if they hear /a/ and the line if they don’t. Example words: ask, take, act, age, cat, and bait.  Next, ask students if they hear /a/ in sad or happy? Cat or dog? Skinny or fat? Past or present? Plastic or paper? The students can raise their hands to share how they do or do not hear the /a/.
6. Introduce the storybook Matt and Rags by telling about the characters and their problem. Read the story. Slowly reread the story and have the children help you find the words with /a/ in them. Have the students draw a van and write where they
would go in their van. (invented spelling)
7. Assessment: Hand out a work sheet with pictures with the /a/ sound and pictures
 without the /a/ sound. Talk about the pictures and have the students color the pictures with the /a/ sound.


    Metsala, L. and L.C. Ehri (Eds.) Word Recognition in Beginning Literacy. Mahwah, NJ:

by:  Sara Ellen Killian
Emergent readers

Questions?  E-mail me!
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