Aaaa!  It's an Alligator


Elizabeth Gattis

Beginning Reading Design


Rational: It is important that children learning to read understand that letters stand for phonemes and that spellings represent the phonemes in spoken words.  Children need to have clear instruction and practice with short vowels because they can sometimes be very difficult phonemes to recognize.  In this lesson, students will focus on recognizing short a = /a/.  We will be looking at the sounds in words like Aaaa and alligator.  We will be reading a book that focuses on a= /a/ and doing a letter box lesson. 



·Primary paper


·Chart with the tongue twister "Alice the alligator goes on an adventure"

·Letter boxes

·The book  Pat's Jam

·Word cards with CAB, FLAP, TRAP, DAD, BAT, AT, and PAD

·An assessment worksheet that focuses on short /a/



1.   Start off the lesson by explaining to the students that written language is like a secret code that we have to figure out and all the letters that make up that code have a different sound that we make by moving our mouths in different ways.  Today we will be working on the short/ a/.

2.   When we make the short /a/ sound our mouth opens wide just like an alligator's mouth.  Explain to the students that to make the /a/ sound we open our mouths wide and keep our tongue down. Let's open our hands wide like the alligators mouth every time we say /a/. 

3.   Now we are going to look at our chart and say the tongue twister "Alice the alligator goes on an amazing adventure".  "I want everyone to say it once normal and then the second time you say it make sure you hear the /a/ sound like in Aaaaaalice.  So say it two times, once normal and once focusing on the /a/ sound.

4.   Let's practice looking for the /a/ sound in some words.  Do you hear /a/ in MAT or MEN? TAP or BED?  FLAT or FEED?  Make sure all of the student understand then do another assessment by having the students open there hands wide like an alligator if the hear /a/ in: CAB, FUN, FLAP, TRAP, BED, DAD, BAT, AT, and PAD.

5.   Next do a letter box lesson first using 2 letter boxes: at, an then 3: cab, bat, tan, mad and then 4: flap, sand, bash.  Once you have completed the letter box lesson and you are sure each of the students understand and are able to find the short /a/ use the flash cards and have the students read them aloud as you hold them up.  If they are having trouble with words go back to the letter box lesson and work through some more short /a/ words. 

6.   After the students have completed the lesson read the book Pat's Jam.  While we are reading we will look for the short /a/ sounds throughout the book.

7.   For assessment the students will be observed while they are doing the letter box lesson to make sure they really understand how to use the /a/ sound.


Simpson, Abbie. (2010). Alligators say Aaaaa! Beginning Literacy Design. Realizations.

Vernon, Kayla. (2009). Apples and Alligators: Beginning Lesson Design. Journey.

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