Alligators say Aaaaaaa!


Emergent Literacy Lesson Design
Emilee Ricketts



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/.  Students will learn to recognize and identify short /a/ in spoken words, and will practice finding words with short /a/.  students will understand this correspondence by focusing on what moves the mouth makes when saying the sound and doing a letterbox lesson to spell and read words with a = /a/. 

Materials:  1.) Primary Paper
                  2.) Pencil
                  3.) Sheet to show /a/ and tongue twister:  "Allie the active alligator goes on an
                  4.) Letter boxes
                    5.) Letter tiles
                  6.) The Cat Nap (Phonics Readers)
                  7.) Word cards with AT, TAB, AND, CAP, SAD, FLAT, TRAP, and FLAG
                    8.) Assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /a/ from KidZone website

  Say:  Our written language is a secret code.  The tricky part is learning what letters stand for.  Today we're going to work on short /a/.  We spell /a/ letter a.

2.  Discuss with students the sound an alligator may make if it were to open his mouth.  Say: If an alligator were to open its mouth and say /a/ it would sound like this:  "Aaaaaaa".  Can you try our alligator /a/ by opening your big alligator mouth?  "Aaaaaaa."  Notice that you open your mouth wide when you say /a/.

3.  Say:  Let's try a tongue twister.  "Allie the active alligator goes on an adventure."  Now you say it.  Now we're going to say it again, and this time we're going to stretch out the /a/ at the beginning of the words.  "Aaaallie the aaaactive aaaaligator goes on aaaan aaaadventure."

4.  To make sure students can recognize the /a/ in spoken words ask them to identify which word they hear /a/.  Say:  Do you hear /a/ in top or cap?  Do you hear /a/ in pluck or sack?  Red or man?  Jack or puff?  Say:  Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words.  Open your hands like an alligator's mouth if you hear /a/:  apple, fun, pat, aunt, tap, put, flat, tune, astronaut. 

5.  Next, begin the letterbox lessons.  Say:  I want to spell the word crab.  I have four letterboxes that will go along with each mouth move that I make.  I will say it slower so that I can hear which letters need to go in each box.  C-c-c-r-r-r-a-a-a-b-b-b.  The first sound I hear is /c/, so I know I will start with the letter c.  Then I heard /r/, so that's an r.  Next I hear /a/, so I know I will need an a.  And finally, I hear /b/ so I will put the letter b in the last box.  I have now spelled out the word crab.  Start with two letterboxes and move up.  Spell the words at, cab, tab, and, cap, sad, flat, trap, and flag.

6.  After the student has spelled out the words using the letterboxes, bring out the index cards with the words written out.  Hold up the cards for the student to read aloud.

7.  Next, give the student The Cat Nap.  Say:  This book tells us about a cat named Tag who loves to nap.  Tag takes a nap in a bag that is carried away.  Will Tag be found in the bag?  What do you think?  Read The Cat Nap, drawing out /a/.  Ask student if they can think of other words with /a/.  Ask them to write a silly sentence using two words that begin with /a/.  Then have student illustrate their sentence and display their work.

For assessing to see if the child has a true understanding of the short /a/, student will complete a worksheet in which they have to draw a line to help an astronaut find the items that begin with /a/.

Kent, Alea.  (2009).  Allie the Active Alligator:  ELD.  Journey's Index.

Vernon, Kayla.  (2009).  Apples and Alligators:  BLD.  Journey's Index.

The Cat Nap.  Phonics readers.

Short /a/ worksheet: