Aaaaa! Don’t scare me like that!


Katherine Allsopp

 Beginning Reading


Rationale: In order for beginning readers to become successful in reading and writing, they must first understand and recognize that each letter in the alphabet represents a different sound. By learning about phonemes and letter correspondences, beginning readers can become fluent readers. Short vowels are often difficult for students to identify and therefore, this lesson will focus on the vowel correspondences a = /a/. The students will learn the /a/ correspondence through a meaningful representation. In addition, they will learn to spell and read words with the /a/ sound through a letterbox lesson and through a decodable book.



Chart with tongue twister, Abby the alligator has an apple.

Elkonin boxes for students (up to 6 boxes)

Plastic letters for each student (a, t, p, b, g, c, k, s, m, l, h, n, d, r, f, e)

Laminated big letters and pouch to demonstrate with

Copy of A Cat Nap for each student

Pseudoword sheet with gaf, han, tam, lat, wap



1.  Begin by explaining to students that they are going to learn the letter a and the sound it makes.  “This is the letter a and we hear the /a/ sound in lots of words!  Today we are going to learn to recognize this sound and also learn to read and write words with it.”

 2.  Relate the sound to students.  Ask, “Have you ever been scared by something and you scream ahhh?  Well that’s what sound the a makes in some words.  We open our mouths and our tongue stays on the bottom of it. Now you practice.  Pretend you are scared of something, put your hands on your cheeks and say aaaa!”

 3.  Give students a tongue twister to help them remember the sound.  “Say the tongue twister with me when I point to the words.  Abby the alligator has an apple.  Great!  This time when we say it, stretch out the /a/ sound when you hear it, and put your hands on your cheeks like you’re scared!  Aaabby the aaalligator haaas aaan aaapple. Good job!”

 4.  Give students practice with phoneme awareness.  “Now let’s see if we hear the /a/ sound in spoken words.  Do you hear /a/ in peach or apple?  Top or hat?  Bag or pig? Run or tan?

 5.  Do a group letterbox lesson using the /a/ sound.  “Now I want you to spread out all of your letters for our lesson and make sure you can see all of them.  We are going to try to spell some words.  Remember, put each sound in its own box!  I’ll show you how to spell one first.  I want to spell snack.  S-n-aaa-ck.  The first sound /s/ goes in the first box, the second /n/, goes in the second box, the third /a/ goes in the third box, and the last sound /ck/ goes together in the last box.  Some boxes may have two letters in it if they make one sound.  Now it’s your turn to spell some words.  Tell students to use their letterboxes to spell the following words: {2- at; 3- tap, beg, tack; 4- smack, slash, thank, mask; 5- draft, plant, sprang; 6- strand} Make sure to tell students how many boxes to use before they try to spell each word.

 6.  Tell the students to put away their letters after they are finished.  Spell the words used in the lesson for the students and have them read them.  If the students are having trouble, isolate the vowel sound using a cover-up and then blend body-coda.

 7.  Give children practice reading the /a/ sound.  “Now we are going to read a book called A Cat Nap.  This is about a fat cat named Tab.  Tab is sleepy and all he wants to do is take a nap.  He finds a bag to sleep in but he doesn’t know it’s Sam’s baseball bag and he’s got to go to his game!  Will Sam see Tab in the bag?  You’ll have to read A Cap Nap to see!  Ask children to read the book silently, then read the book as a class.  When finished, ask what words contained the /a/ sound and make a chart.

Assessment:  Give students a pseudo word test to see if they can decode the /a/ sound.  Ask them to read gaf, han, tam, lat, wap.  “These aren’t real words, but I want you to see if you can read these silly words to me.”


Murray, B.A & Lesniak, T. (1990). “The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for

             Teaching decoding.” “The reading Teacher, volume 52, no. 6, 644-650.

Cushman, S (1990). A cat nap. Carson, CA: Educational Insights.

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