Rationale: Children in the emergent literacy stage have
not yet completely grasped the concept
of the alphabetic principle and have trouble matching phonemes to graphemes. The biggest
issue in this stage of reading development is trying to figure out what a phoneme is and how to
recognize one in a spoken word. This should come even before the child matches the phoneme
to a certain letter. Short vowels are a very important focus with emergent readers because they
are one of the most difficult to pick out of a spoken word. This lesson will focus on /a/ (short a),
one of the short vowels. The students will learn how to pick out /a/ in spoken words and written
words. Ways of accomplishing this include learning a memorable phrase and a letter symbol,
which will be practiced in writing, and then finding /a/ in words.
Materials: Primary paper and pencils; chart with ãAbbyâs
ants eat apples in Antarcticaä; index
cards with pictures for the words on them; Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss; ãRhyme Timeä
cards distributed by Learning Horizons (cards which have a word and its picture on it; the
student uses the cards as a sort of concentration game to match rhyming words)
Procedures: 1) Begin by explaining that we can use the
way our mouth moves when we say
words as a way to figure out the letters that make up words. Today we will be working on the
mouth move /a/ in all kinds of words, particularly the ones weâll be trying to find today. I bet
youâll notice that when youâre reading a book you might run across /a/ then too. Weâll see how
often we can find it today.
2) Now letâs try this tongue twister on the chart. ãAbbyâs
ants eat apples in Antarctica.ä
Everybody say it together this time, but this time we are going to drag out the /a/ at the beginning
of the words. ãAaaabyâs aaaants eat aaaaples in Aaaantarctica.ä We are going to say it one
more time, but break off /a/ from each word. ã/a/ bbyâs /a/ nts eat /a/ pples in /a/ ntarctica.ä
3) Instead of focusing on our mouth moves now, we are going to focus
on how to write the letter
that stands for /a/, which is a. So take out your primary paper and your pencil. We are going to
start at the fence line on our paper with our pencil. We are going to curve around down to the
sidewalk and back up to the fence line until we have made a circle. Then, we are going to keep
our pencil where we stopped at the fence line and come down the side of the circle back down to
the sidewalk and swoop up just a little. I will come around to see how everyone is doing their
aâs. Go ahead and write a whole row of aâs on your paper when I come around to say it is ok.
Remember that the letter you are writing means you make the sound /a/ when you see it by itself.
4) Pass out the picture cards to each student. Mix in pictures
that do not have the phoneme /a/ in the word to see if they understand
the mouth move. Each child should get 2 cards, one with a word that
has /a/ in it and one with a word that does not. Use the tune to
ãSkip to My Louä to sing this song for each child:
[Studentâs name], do you have a word that has an /a/?
Has, has, has an /a/?
Do you have a word that has an /a/?
Skip to my Lou, my darling!
Let the student respond by holding up his/her card with the correct phoneme on it. Teach the
studentsâ to respond by singing this song with their word inserted in the brackets:
[Word] is a word that has an /a/.
Has, has, has an /a/.
[Word] is a word that has an /a//
Skip to my Lou, my darling!
5) Read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss and talk about the story.
Have students pat the top of
their head when they hear words with /a/. List the words they find on the board. Have students
write in their journal about what their favorite and not-so-favorite foods are using invented
spelling and illustrate their page.
6) Use a verbal assessment by holding up cards with pictures on them
and their names (ãRhyme
Timeä cards) and asking each student to tell whether or not the word has an /a/. Keep anecdotal
records of who has trouble identifying. Make sure to show cards that do not have /a/ in the word
to see if they pick up on it.
Reference: Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teaching Decoding
in Holistic Classrooms. Prentice Hall, New
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