I’ve Got a Bad Taste in my Mouth! Aaa!

Emergent Literacy Design

Mareena Kohtala



Children need the alphabetic insight that the smallest units of sound, phonemes, are represented by the graphemes that make up a word. The child must first recognize the phoneme and identify it in spoken language. This lesson will help children identify /a/ (short a).They will learn to recognize /a/ by first learning a meaningful representation and the letter symbol; they will then practice identifying /a/ in words.



-Primary paper and pencil
-Chart with “Amanda’s animals asked for apples this afternoon.”
-drawing paper and crayons
-Pat’s Jam (Educational Insights)
-class set of cards with a on one side and a question mark on the other
-illustration page with pictures of a bug, bag, cup, hat, cat and tub



1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that how we write spoken words is by using a secret code. The code can be learned but it can be tricky to learn what letters stand for-the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /a/. At first it may seem like the /a/ is hiding in words, but soon you will be able to find /a/ in all kinds of words.

2. Ask students: Have you ever had to take medicine that did not taste very good? After you swallowed did you ever hear your self exclaim /a/?  That’s the mouth move we’re looking for in words. Let’s pretend that we just took some medicine and it did not taste good. Let me hear that you did not like the medicine: /a/.

3. Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Amanda’s animals asked for apples this afternoon.” Everybody say it together. Now say it again, and this time, streth the /a/ at the beginning of the words. “Aaamanda’s aaanimals  aaasked for aaaples this aaafternoon.” Try it again and this time break the /a/ off the word: /a/ manda’s /a/ nimals /a/ sked for /a/ pples this /a/ fternoon.

4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We can use the letter a to spell /a/. Let’s write it. For a lowercase a, start just below the fence. Go up and touch the fence and come around and touch the sidewalk. Keep going around and then come straight back down. I want to see everybody’s a. After I put a star on your paper, I want you to finish the row with a’s just like the first one. When you see the letter a all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /a/.

5. Now we are going to practice listening for /a/ in spoken words. Lets practice one together. Do we hear /a/ in cat or dog. Cccaaaat, ddddoooooggg, do you hear that bad taste in your mouth sound aaaa in caaat. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /a/ in back or front? Apple or orange? Stand or run? Clean or pack? [Pass out a card to each student.] Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words. Show me a if you hear /a/ and the question mark if you don’t. [Give words one by one] bag, job, stand, sit, bug, crab, hat, pet, bean, clap, stamp.

6. Read Pat’s Jam and talk about the story. Read it again, and have the students make the /a/ sound like they have a bad taste in their mouth when they hear a word with /a/ in them. List their words on the board. Then have each student draw a picture of a dog and write a message about it using invented spelling. Display their work.

7. For assessment, distribute the picture page and help students name each pictures. Ask each student to circle the pictures whose name have /a/.



Margaret Beason, “Aaa-aaa-aaa-choo!!” at http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/beasonel.html.

 Pat’s Jam. Educational Insight.

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