AAAAAAAAAAA!  Stop Crying!
Emergent Literacy Design
Laura Slocum


:  It is extremely important for children who are learning to read and spell words to understand that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  This lesson will help children recognize the phoneme /a/ in spoken words.  It will also help them with writing the letter a.  Short vowels are some of the hardest phonemes to identify and this is why I chose to teach the phoneme /a/. 

Materials:  Book A Cat’s Nap, primary paper, pencil, poster with Abby and Allen ask animals for apples, cards with the words:  at, mad, went, bag, gum, hat, bat, nap, and a worksheet with pictures on it. 

Procedures:  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the students that our written language is a lot like a secret code because it is hard to tell what letters stand for.  That is why it is really important to understand how our mouths move when we say words.  Today we are going to learn what our mouth does when we make the /a/ sound.  Once we learn what our mouth is doing when we make the /a/ sound, we will be able to identify the /a/ sound in many words. 

2.  Ask students:  What does a baby sound like when they cry?  I think that a baby goes AAAAAAHHHHH!  I will ask the students to act like a baby crying when making the /a/ sound.   The word mad has the /a/ sound in it so when we hear the /a/ sound in the word lets stretch out the sound and act like a crying baby.  Did you hear the /a/ sound in the middle of the word? 

3.  Show the students the poster with the tongue twister:  Abby and Allen ask animals for apples.  First read the tongue twister to the students and then have them read it with you.  Repeat it about two times.  Then say now lets stretch out he /a/ sound and act like a crying baby:  AAAAAby and AAAAAllen aaaask aaaaanimals for aaaaples.  Okay lets do it again but this time lets break it off the word.  /a/ bby /a/ nd /a/ llen /a/ sk /a/ nimals for /a/ pples. 

4.  Have the students take out a piece of paper and pencil.  Now explain to the students that we use the letter a to spell /a/.  First demonstrate to the students how to write the letter.  For a capital a start at the rooftop, go down the slide to the sidewalk, then down the slide the other way, and cross at the fence.  For a lowercase a don’t start at the fence.  Start under the fence.  Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down.  Once I have seen everyone draw their lower and uppercase a, I want you to make five more just like it.  Remind the students that this letter makes the /a/ sound.

5.  Let me show you how to find /a/ in the word black.  I am going to say the word slow and stretch each sound out so I can listen for the crying baby.  B-b-b-l-l-a-a-ck.  B-b-l-l-a-a-a-a….  Did you hear the crying baby!  There it is! 

6.  Now explain to the students that you are going to give them two words and they have to tell you which word has the /a/ sound in it.  Just do what I did and stretch the word out and listen for the crying baby.  Do you hear /a/ in cat or dog?  Do you hear the /a/ sound in sit or lap?  Do you hear the /a/ sound in nap or sleep? 

7.  Now read the book A Cat’s Nap.  After you read it the fist time, read it again and have the children act like a crying baby every time they hear /a/.  List all the words that have /a/ in them on the board.  When you are done reading the book, have the children draw a picture of a cat and write about their picture using invented spelling. 

8.  For the assessment, give the students a worksheet with pictures on it.  Go over each picture with the children and tell them to circle all the pictures that have /a/. 


Earl, Laura.  Abby’s Alligator at: The Reading Genie

 Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 644-650

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