Emergent Literacy Design

                                                                                            Coley Duke


Rationale:  Letter recognition is vital to the success of emergent readers.  It is essential that children learn that letters are symbols that have corresponding sounds.  The goal of this lesson is to teach a = /a/.  This lesson looks at the short a sound and provides a vocal gesture to make the sound more memorable to children.  Then, students will practice their new knowledge by looking at words with and without the short a sound.

primary pencil and paper; chart with “Matt the cat snacked on a black apple!”; class set of apple-shaped cards with short a words on some of them and some with a  vowel other than short a (Use more with short a so that it will be more recognized/repeated); 2 jars labelled JAM and NO JAM for apple cards; Pat’s Jam (Educational Insights);  board for writing words on; picture page with short a words (grass, dog, mask, pan, fan, mop, hand, foot, ring, can, mad, frog) 


1.  Introduce this lesson by saying that language is like a secret code- letters not only look a certain way, but also make certain sounds.  “Today, we are going to look at the letter /a/ and listen to what it sounds like, as well as see how our mouth moves when we say ‘aaaa’.  You will be surprised at how many /a/ words you know.  Let’s get started!  It might be a bit harder on the first couple ones, but after that, I know you’ll be pros!” 

2.  Does anyone know what kind of noise a sheep or a lamb makes?  That’s right…it says “Baaaaa!”  Well, that ‘a-a-a-a-a’ sound (made with an open mouth) is actually the sound that the letter a makes.  The letter a makes that sound in lots of words, words that you already know.  I am going to show you some of those ‘a-a-a’ words today.  But first, listen to the a in cr-a-a-a-a-b.  Say I have the words black and white?  I hear the a-a-a in bla-a-a-ck. Do you hear a-a-a in mad or smile?  Cat or dog? Pan or hit? Lab or room? 

3.  Let’s try a tongue twister with some of these sounds [on chart]!  “Ask Al about the amazing apples!”  Everybody say it three times together.  Now, say it again and stretch out the /a/ in the words.  “Aaaaask Aaaaal about the aaaaaamazing aaapples!”  Great! 

4.  Now I have a fun game for us to play.  At the front of the room, I have 2 jars.  One of the jars is for apple jam and the other is not.  I am going to give each of you an apple-shaped card.  Written on the card is a word and if the word has the ‘a-a-a’ sound, then it can go into the apple JAM jar.  I fit does not, then it goes into the NO JAM jar.  Now, when I call each of you, come put your apple in the jar you think your word belongs in.  I’ll go first and you all can help me.  My word is  (read apple card) BRAT.  Where should I put it?  You’re right- in the apple JAM jar because it has our a-a-a-a /a/ sound.  Now, it’s your turn…
5. [Get out pencil and paper]  Now we’re going to practice how to write the letter a that makes our /a/ sound.  Okay.  Start under the fence.  Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk.  Finally, go around and stright down, and you will have an a.  Good Job! Again, what does that sound make?  Good.  Now, let’s see you write it 4 more times. 

6.  Now we are going to read Pat’s Jam.  After the first time of reading it through, read it again and have the children clap when they hear an /a/ word.  Write some of these words down on the board, and make a tongue twister from them when you are finished reading for the second time through (can add words if needed).

7.  Finally, the phonemic awareness worksheets on /a/ will be passed out for assessment.  The children should circle the pictures that have that correspondence in them and put an X on the pictures that do not have a short /a/ sound. 


Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teach Decoding; why and how. 
Upper Saddle River, NJ. (2005). p60-65. (phonics /a/ worksheet with pictures)

Woelfl, Mandy.  “Egg-stra! Egg-stra!” Beginning Reading Design.
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