Scary Scary….aaaaa!!!
Beginning Reading Lesson Design
Melanie Alvarez




            Graphemes are hard for children to understand and comprehend until they know the phonemes they each make.  Phonemes give meaning to graphemes.  For example, a letter can be compared to a match.  It is not until you learn that when you strike the match on the outside of the box it will create a flame.  This lesson will focus on a = /a/.  After the lesson is complete the students will be able to master /a/ in spoken and written words.



            1.  Letterboxes-cardstock 2” x 2” squares, 6 squares taped together

            2.  Letter manipulatives: (f, l, a, g, c, r, c, k, p, s, h, b, n, k, t, d)

            3.  “Pat’s Jam”

            4.  Primary paper

            5.  Pencil 

            5.  Display board with doors on it.  Behind the doors words such as will be behind

                 each door-“The Haunted House” display board

            6.  White Erase board

            7.  Markers for the board



            1.  “Okay friends, today we are going to learn that the letter a says /a/.  Now can everyone say /a/.  It kind of sounds like the sound you make when someone creeps around a corner and scares you…./a/!!  Now I want you to all say “Cats can catch canaries.”  Now I want you to stretch out that /a/ sound.  Caaaaats caaaaaan caaaatch caaaanaries.  Good job friends!  I am going to tell you some words and you tell me which word has the /a/ sound in it.  Do you hear /a/ in cat or dog?  In truck or car?  In caterpillar or bug? 

            2.  “Now we are going to do a fun activity.  Everyone get out your letterboxes.  I am going to model first how we are going to do this activity.  First I need three letterboxes.  (Have four letterboxes already drawn on the board).  Now I want to spell the word “flat.”  Put a F in the first letterbox, L in the second letterbox, T in the forth letter box, and say “flaaaaat”…oh /a/, that box is an a.  (Talking about the third letter box).  Flat, like the desks we are using are flat surfaces.  Now I want you to try with some other words.  (Give them the words (flag, crack, clap, crash, blank, and strand) and let them spell them out on their individual letterboxes). 

            3.  “Now everyone look at the haunted house display board up at the front of the room.  I am going to open the door one by one and if you see a word that has the sound /a/, I want you to each hold up your arms and scream /a/!!!!!”    

            4.  Give each student a copy of “Pat’s Jam.  I will already have them in assigned groups of two so that they can take turns reading to each other.  Before they read I will give a book talk to get them motivated to read. 

            5.  To assess the students I will have them each meet with me one-on-one and read psuedowords I have created.  These words will be pask, wast, pand, and trab.



Murray, Bruce A. and Theresa Lesniak.  “The letterbox lesson: A Hands On

            Approach for Teaching Decoding.”  The Reading Teacher.  Vol 52, No. 6

            March, 1999.  644-650.

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