Catch the Sneezing /a/
Emergent Literacy
Amanda Lyle



 In order for children to begin the reading process successfully, they must be able to connect letters with phonemes and identify phonemes in spoken words. Vowel sounds are very important phonemes to master during the emergent stage of reading. In this lesson, students will learn to identify /a/ (short a). They will be challenged to learn a meaningful way to symbolize the /a/ in spoken words and find /a/ within written words. They will also practice writing the letter symbol for a providing the opportunity for practice in identifying the /a/ in written and spoken language.



Picture cards for: cat, alligator, rat, hat, apple, and clam; Sentence strip with tongue twister: “Andrew and Alice asked if Annie’s active animals were angry”; Primary paper and pencil; Word cards: mouse/ rat, jelly/ jam, cat/ dog, basket/ bowl, people/ animals; Pat’s Jam (Educational Insights); Assessment sheet with: cab, dig, hand, cow, flag, check, bat, bed, ran, log, bag, stick, cat, sun, van, dog, jam, met, ham, red.



1.  Introduce the lesson to the students by describing the alphabet as a secret code that we must learn. We will start by learning what mouth moves are made as we say each word. Today we will be working on the mouth move for short a. Just as we will work on spotting the short a sound, we will also work on writing the letter that makes the sound.

2.  Ask students: What sound do you make when you sneeze? Demonstrate the Aaaaaaaaaaachoo while holding hands up to the nose to represent sneezing. Now let me hear all of you make the /a/ sound as you pretend to sneeze. Let’s see if we can use our sneezing sound as we say some words with /a/ in them such as s-a-a-a-a-a-t. Demonstrate sneezing motion while saying sat.

3.  Let’s try finding the sneezing /a/ while naming the picture on each card. C-a-a-a-a-a-t, A-a-a-a-a-lligator, R-a-a-a-a-a-t, H-a-a-a-a-a-t, A-a-a-a-a-pple, and Cl-a-a-a-a-a-m.

4.  Let’s all try sneezing a tongue twister. “Andrew and Alice asked if Annie’s active animals were angry.” Have the tongue twister written on a sentence strip to read aloud once to the class while modeling the sneezing /a/. A-a-a-a-a-ndrew a-a-a-a-a-nd, A-a-a-a-a-lice, a-a-a-a-a-sked if A-a-a-a-a-nnie’s a-a-a-a-a-ctive a-a-a-a-a-nimals were a-a-a-a-a-ngry. Class together should read the tongue twister while making the mouth moves and gestures of /a/. They should do it a second time breaking it off the word: /a/ lice /a/ sked if /a/ nnie’s /a/ ctive /a/ nimals were /a/ ngry.

5. Ask students to please get out primary paper and pencil. We can use letter a to spell /a/. Let’s write it on our paper together. For lower case a, start under the fence. Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down. After I look at your /a/ and put a star on your paper, I would like for each of you to finish the row of a’s.

6. Ok class, we are now going to pretend that my friend, Pat, is allergic to anything with the /a/ in the name. It makes him sneeze. What sound do we make when we sneeze? That’s right…A-a-a-a-a-a-choo. Now, I have a few cards with words on the front and back. I want the class to tell me which one Pat is allergic to by paying close attention to which word has the sneezing /a/. Do call and response with class for the following cards: mouse, rat; jelly, jam; cat, dog; basket, bowl; people, animals. I want everyone to make your sneezing /a/ hands when you hear the word that makes Pat sneeze.

7.  Today class we will read a book about my friend Pat called, “Pat’s Jam.” I said earlier that my friend Pat is allergic to words with /a/. Do you think that the title of the book could mean that Pat is allergic to jam? Let’s read it and find out. Listen carefully as I read it to you. Discuss with the students what the book really was about and ask if anyone heard any words with sneezing /a/ throughout the book. Let’s now read the book again and pretend that it is about Pat being allergic to the sneezing /a/. Now as I read everyone should listen and make the sneezing /a/ motion each time you hear a word that will make our friend Pat sneeze.

8.  For assessment, each student will have a sheet with pictures and words similar to the exercise for what makes Pat sneeze. The students will be asked to circle which words have the sneezing/a/ in them. They will then choose one sneezing /a/ word to draw a picture for on the back of the paper. Students will be asked to come up and show the class their sneezing /a/ picture. They will lead the class in sneezing out the /a/ in the word as they name their picture.




Cushman, Shelia. Pat's Jam. Educational Insights: Carson, CA, 1990.


Mark Matthews- Alphabetic Acting


Laura Earl- Abby’s Alligator

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