When in Need…Waaa!
By Ann Chance

Rationale: Children begin to understand the alphabetic principle when they realize that spelling maps the phoneme sequence of spoken words in our language.  Children learn to read words after thy are phonemically aware and can relate phonemes to spellings.  This lesson will aim at reviewing the correspondence a=/a/ and using it to better identify words with and without the a=/a/ correspondence.  The children will also learn to spell and read words with the a=/a/ correspondence using the letterbox lesson and reading a book.

Materials:
1. Elkonin Boxes
2. Letter manipulatives (a, s, h, m, p, r, t, b, g, k, l, n, d, c-2)
3. Picture page with pictures of rat, ham, van, jam, lamp, bag by teacher
4. Chart with tongue twister: Adam and Allison made apple pie at Al's house.
5. Chalkboard and chalk
6. Multiple copies of Pat's Jam (Educational Insights)

Procedure:
1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that to understand our writing code, we must learn that letters represent sounds and these letters represent written words.  Today, we are going to learn that the letter a stands for the sound /a/.  As we learn about the /a/ sound, we will be able to spot it in many spoken and written words.
2. Have you ever heard a baby crying?  Waaa!  That's the /a/ sound they make when they are crying.  Open your mouth wide and let's try to say the /a/ sound like a crying baby.  Write the letter a on the chalkboard.  This is how we write the /a/ sound using a letter.
3. Let's try a tongue twister (on chart).  "Adam and Allison made apple pie at Al's house."  Everyone say it together.  Now say it again, stretching the /a/ at the beginning of the words.  Aaadam aaand Aaallison made aaapple pie aaat Aaal's house.  Nice job!
4. Let us practice spotting the /a/ sound in some spoken words. (Call on students to answer questions) Do you hear /a/ in bag or box?  Nap or rest?  Glad or mean?  Grab or throw?
5. Now let us practice spelling some words with the /a/ sound.  I will model how to spell words in the Elkonin boxes before having children spell the words.  Each box stands for one sound.  I am going to spell the word cat.  Listen as is say the sounds /c/ /a/ /t/.  The letters that symbolize each sound go into each of the boxes.  I hear /c/ in the beginning so c goes in the first box.  Then, I hear /a/ so a goes into the second box.  I hear /t/ at the end so it goes into the third box.  Cccaaattt.   I spelled cat.  Now, let's see if you can spell some words with the /a/ sound.
6. (Pass out Elkonin letterboxes and letter manipulatives to each student.)  Everyone open your boxes until you see only three.  I will give you a word to spell and when you are done, raise your hand so I can come around to see if it is correct.  The first word is map.  Tell students to listen carefully for the sounds they hear in the word and remind them that each square stands for each sound.  There are three sounds in map, so there should be three boxes laid out for the student; one for /m/, one for /a/, and one for /p/.  Continue with the following words and tell them how many boxes to have for each word: ash, map, rat, ask, bag, rack, grab, crack, splat, stand.
7. Show the class a chart consisting of all the previously spelled words.  Point to a word and call on a child to read the word aloud to the class.
8. Give each student a copy of Pat's Jam (Educational Insights) to reinforce correspondence a=/a/.  (Give booktalk)  This story is about two rats that go to the store in a van.  They buy groceries in the store and then get back into the van but the van is out of gas.  You will have to read this book to find out what the rats will do.  Students will read the book individually.  Then, as a class I will ask them to tell me words with the /a/ sound they noticed in the book and I will write the words on the chalkboard.
9. For assessment, give each student a picture page with six pictures.  Below each picture, have the correct number of letterboxes that correspond to the phonemes in the picture.  They will write the words in the letterboxes.  We will do the first one together.  Some ideas for pictures are the following: rat, van, ham, jam, lamp, bag.

Reference:  Eldredge, Lloyd J.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1995. (148).

Brandi Shirley.  www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/illum/shirleybr.html.  "Waaa, Feed Me!"

For further information, send e-mail to chancoa@auburn.edu