Emergent Literacy
Mark Gullion
Aunt Annie's Apples

Rationale: Children have to recognize phonemes and the letters that correspond to them. Once children can match these together, they are ready to spell and read. Recognizing short vowels is one of the hardest aspects of learning to read for young children. This lesson will help children identify a=/a/, one of the short vowels. The children will learn how to recognize it in spoken language and also how to find it in words by learning the symbol.

Materials: Primary paper and pencils; Pictures of apple and ant; Pat's Jam (Educational Insights); worksheet with pictures of hat, cat, bat, bag, drum, and bird; memory game with rhyming /a/ words on one side and the other blank, chart with "Aunt Annie and Uncle Adam ate apples all day."

1. Explain to the children that words are composed of a variety of sounds and that some words may even share the same sound. We must be able to identify the sounds in words to learn to read and write.
2. Tell the class, "The sound that we are going to learn today is the short a=/a/ sound, such as apple and ant." Hold up a picture of an apple and an ant. "Let's all say /a/ together." Write the words apple and ant on the board and have the students read them together orally.
3. Have the students read and repeat the following tongue twister. Explain to the students to listen for the /a/ sound. "Aunt Annie and Uncle Adam ate apples all day." Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words. "AAAunt AAAnnie and Uncle AAAdam aaate aaaples aaall day." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/A/unt /A/nnie and Uncle /A/dam /a/te /a/pples /a/ll day." Good job.
4. [Hand students the primary paper and pencils.] We can use the letter a to spell the /a/ sound. Let's write it. Start a little below the fence. Go up and touch the fence and then go down to the sidewalk. Now go back to where you started and go straight down the sidewalk. After I have checked everyone's letter a, please go back and make five more just like it.
5. [Call on students to tell which word has the a=/a/ sound.] Do you hear /a/ in bag or tug? Sun or cat? Hat or nut? Now, I want everyone to cry like a baby every time you hear a=/a/ in a word and remain quiet when a word does not have the a=/a/ sound. Do you hear a=/a/ in apple? Tug? Mat? Sit? Ant? Book? Bag? Hat?
6. For a fun review game, tape the memory game to the board with the words face down. Divide the class into two teams and have each team take turns coming up to the board and turning over two cards to see if they match. Pass to teammate if able to get it right or switch teams if get it wrong. The team that makes the most matches wins.
7. Do a book talk and then read Pat's Jam to the class. Talk about the story with the class. Then have the students name the words that have /a/ in them while you write them on the board. You might need to read the story to them again going page by page.
8. For assessment, pass out the picture page of /a/ words and have the students color the pictures that have /a/ in them.

Reference: Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Brigham Young University. Prentice Hall, New Jersey (1995). Pg.61.

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For more information email me at gullimr@auburn.edu.