Nancy Williams
Emergent Literacy

Aaah!...The Baby is Crying

Rationale:  An important step in becoming a fluent reader is learning how to recognize phonemes.  To read and spell words, children need to learn that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  Children are not able to match letters to phonemes until they recognize the phonemes.  The short vowels are very important phonemes to learn.  This lesson includes the short a vowel.  This lesson will help children identify the phoneme /a/ (short a).  They will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning an insightful representation and a letter symbol.  The children will also practice finding /a/ in words used in a story.

Materials:  Primary paper, pencil; chart with ãAnna asked Adam for a bat, bag, cap, and an appleä; drawing paper and crayons; picture page (pictures are drawn by teacher) with bat, bag, bug, boy, apple, cap, grass, girl, pig, dog; Catâs Nap (Educational Insight).

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining how our written language is a special code.  The tough part is learning what each letter stands for÷the mouth moves we make as we say words.  Today we are going to work on how to find the mouth move /a/.  It may seem hard to hear the /a/, but as you get to know it, you will be able to find /a/ in many words.
2. Ask students:  Have you ever heard a baby cry?  The baby says /a/ when he or she cries.  Well, that is the mouth move we are looking for in words.  Letâs pretend that we are babies crying.  /a/! /a/!  We must not feel good.
3. Letâs try a tongue twister (on chart).  ãAnna asked Adam for a bat, bag, cap, and an apple.ä  Everybody say it three times together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words.  ãAaanna aaasked Aaadam for a baaat, baaag, caaap, aaand aaan aaapple.ä  Try it again, and this time break it off the word:  ã/a/ nna  /a/ sked /a/dam for a b /a/ t, b /a/ g, c /a/ p, /a/ nd /a/ n /a/ pple.ä  Great Work!
4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil].  We can use letter a to spell /a/.  Letâs practice writing it.  I will show you how to make the letter a.  Start a little under the fence, curve up and touch the fence, got towards the left window and draw a curve down to the sidewalk, curve over, and back up to the fence where you started, and now, without lifting your pencil, draw straight down to the sidewalk.  [Model each instruction given].  I want to see everybodyâs a.  After I put a smile on it, I want you to make six more just like it.  When you see a all by itself in a word, thatâs the signal to say /a/.
5. Ask students the following questions and call on them to answer and tell how they knew:  Do you hear /a/ in bat or bucket?  Apple or grape?  Snack or lunch?  Grass or dirt?  Cat or dog?  Letâs see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words.  Say /a/ if you hear /a/ and say no if you donât.  [Give words one by one].  Anna asked Adam for a bat, bag, cap, and an apple.
6. Read Catâs Nap and talk about the story.  Read it again and have students raise their hand when they hear words with /a/.  List the words they choose on the board.  Have each child draw a picture of a cat and write a message about it using invented spelling.  Display their work.
7. For assessment, give each student a picture page and help each student name the pictures.  Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names have /a/.

Reference:  Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Developing Phonemic Awareness.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, 1995.

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