Aaaaa! The Letter A!

By: Stacy Lide

Rationale:  Emergent readers  must understand the relationship between graphemes and their corresponding phonemes.  Short vowels are often very difficult for young readers, since their sounds can be similar.  This lesson is designed to further the emergent reader's understanding of the short a vowel grapheme and phoneme.  Through the following exercise, students will become more familiar with the short a vowel and will practice recognizing the short a in both spoken and written words.

Primary paper and pencil
Large display of the letter a for a visual to help children recognize the printed letter a
A board to write the tongue twister "Anna!  An apple in the ad!" for the children to view
Sheila Cushman's book entitled, Pat's Jam

1.  Say the following to the students to introduce them to the lesson.  "Today we are going to learn about a letter of the alphabet.  We are going to talk about the letter a!  Now everyone repeat after me...aaaaa!  Now place your hands on your cheeks and make the same sound again.  Aaaaa!  Can you feel what your mouth is doing when you make the /a/ sound?"

2.  "Now let's see if we can make the "aaaa motion" by placing our hands on our cheeks every time we hear the aaaa sound.  [Teacher models the aaaa motion to the students]  I am going to say a few words and I want you to do the aaaa motion with me when you hear the aaaa sound.  Listen carefully!  "b-a-g" "t-a-g" "h-a-t"  Very good! 

3.  "Now, let's try a tongue twister!  Listen to the words as I say them. Say the tongue twister "Anna! An apple in the ad!"  Now I am going to write the tongue twister on the board so you can see it. [Write "Anna!  An apple in the ad!"  on the  board.]  Now let's say the tongue twister together!  Get ready!  "Anna! An apple in the ad!"  Very good!"

4.  "Now this time, we are going to say the tongue twister a little differently.  Let's see if we can stretch the words to make the aaaaa sound easier to hear.  So this time, let's say the tongue twister really slow.  Ready?
"(aaaaa)-n-n-a! (Aaaaa)-n (aaaa)-p-p-l-e  i-n  t-h-e (aaaaa)-d!"      Wonderful!"

5.  "Now we are going to practice listening for the aaaaa sound in words.  I am going to say two words and I want you to do the aaaaa motion when you hear the aaaaa sound.  I'll show you what I mean by answering the first question for you.  Listen carefully!
Can I hear the aaaa sound in "bath" or "both?"  Now let me think.... I need to stretch out the words.   b-aaaaaa-t-h  or b-oooo-t-h....... I can hear the aaaa sound in b-aaaaa-t-h!  Now it's your turn!  Do you hear the aaaaa sound in "apple" or "grape,"  in "bat" or "bait," in "gap" or "gate?" [Have students stretch out each word together]

6.  Pass out the book Pat's Jam to the students.  Have students read Pat's Jam to themselves.  Have students write about something they liked in the story.  Observe their written messages and have them read the messages to you.

7.  For assessment, have the students complete a worksheet that allows them to separate the words with the /a/ phoneme from the words without the /a/ phoneme.  The students will circle the all of the words that contain the /a/ phoneme and cross out the words that do not have the /a/ phoneme.  For example, the word mat would be circled by the student, while the word hop would be crossed out since it does not contain the /a/ phoneme. 

Adams, Marilyn J. (1990.) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About: A Summary. Center for the Study of Reading Research and Education             Center University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Print. University of Illinois. 

Cushman, Sheila. Pat's Jam. Educational Insights. California, 1990.
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