Christina Smith

Beginning to Read



To Make a Cake you must say /A/



For successful reading, students must be able to identify the sounds made by both short and long vowels.  In order to identify long vowels in written context, students must understand that short and long vowels are spelled and said differently.  The purpose of this lesson is to teach the a_e=/A/ correspondence while reviewing the learned correspondence a=/a/.  Students will spell words using letterboxes, will read their spelled words, whole text selection, and pseudo-words using these correspondences.


1.  one set of Elkonin Letterboxes per student

2.  Set of letters per student: a, c, k, e, m, n, r, v, g, f, l, b, s, t, t, p

3.  Primary writing paper per student

4.  Large teacher set of Elkonin Letterboxes

5.  Large teacher set of letters

6.  Sentence strip with tongue twister: ‘To make a grape cake don’t forget to bake.’

7.  Class set of the book:  Jane & Babe

8.  Pseudo-word cards: pate, vame, zan, kape, gast, mage



1.  “We have learned the short sound for each vowel.  Who can tell me what the short vowel sound is for a.  That’s right, a=/a/ like our crying baby sound.  Let me hear everyone practice their crying baby sound.  Aaaaa! (use hand gestures to facilitate).  Very Good!  Since I know you all are expert readers and spellers using your short a sound, you are now ready to learn the other sound that a makes in words.  When the letter a is spelled a_e it says its name A.  (Write on the board a_e) Like in the word cake (fill in the c and k on the board).  Let’s all say this word together, ‘cake,’ very good!!!  The e on the end of a word tells us to say the A’s name.  It is very important for us to know the spelling difference between the short a and long a when we are reading and spelling words.”

2.  “Let’s practice using our long a sound.  (Reveal tongue twister).  Read ‘To make a grape cake don’t forget to bake.’  Let’s say our tongue twister together…Very Good.  Now this time when you say our tongue twister, let’s stretch out our a_e=/A/ sound.  To m /A//A//A//A/ke a gr /A//A//A//A/pe c /A//A//A//A/ke don’t forget to b /A//A//A//A/ke.  Excellent job!

3.  (Pass out to students the letterbox lesson materials) “We have all done a letterbox lesson before.  Who can tell me what each box is for?  That’s right each box is for a different phoneme or sound in a word.  (Model using large teacher set of letterbox materials) If I wanted to spell the word bake, I would put the b in the first box, the a in the second, and the k in the third.  But because our a says a=/A/ and not a=/a/ in the word bake, I need to put a silent e at the end of the word, that means it does not go into a letterbox because it doesn’t make a sound, it is there to tell us to say /A/ instead of /a/.  Students will spell the following words using their letterbox materials.  There will be some a=/a/ correspondences include to check that the students understand the differences between each correspondence.  I will check each student’s spelling before moving on to the next word.

3: [cake, pan, rave, name],

4: [grace, flag, brake, state, plane],

5: [scrape, prank]

                   Letters:  a, c, k, e, m, n, r, v, g, f, l, b, s, t, t, p

4.  I will model how to read the word bake on the board without using any letterboxes.  “I am going to write words on the board.  After I write the word on the board, I want you to raise your hand as soon as you know what the word says.  I will then call on one of you to read the word out loud.  Let’s try one together.  (Write make on the board…all students raise their hand) Who knows what this word says?  It says make, very good!  I know it says make because the silent e on the end of the word tells me to say /A/ and not /a/.”  Write the rest of the letterbox lesson words on the board, calling on different students to read the word aloud, then have the entire class read the word together.

5.  In pairs students will read the book “Jane & Babe  “Babe is a big lion and lives in a zoo cage.  His trainer, Jane sneaks into his cage to try and wake him up.  Do you think she can?  What will Babe do when if she wakes him?  You and your partner will have to read Jane & Babe to find out!

6.  The student will now use their primary paper to write a message about a good day that they have had.  “I would like you to write about one of the best days that you have ever had.  What happened that made that day so special?”

7.  During message time I will call each student up for individual assessment.  Pseudo-words will be written on note cards.  I will ask each student to read the following words:  pate, vame, zan, kape, gast, mage, which are a mixture of short and long a vowels.


Copenhaver, Liz.  “Ike’s Ice Cream is Icy.”

Jane & Babe.  Phonics Readers. California:  Educational Insights. 1990.

Return to Constructions