Abe the Snake

Beginning Reading

By: Mary Haley Byrne

Rationale: Phoneme recognition is the key to learning how to read and write, and learning how important phonemes are in spoken language and the connection between letters and sounds. The goal of this lesson is to teach children the grapheme A and its corresponding phoneme a_e = /A/. They will do so by saying the phoneme in a tongue tickler, participating in activities including listening for words with the phoneme, reading and spelling words with the phoneme in a letter box lesson, reading a decodable book called Jane and Babe, and completing a worksheet.

Materials: chart with "Abe the snake hates the cake," white board and markers, Elkonin letter boxes (one per student and one on smart board), set of letters: a, t, e, h, m, k, b, l, s, v, r, a copy of Jane and Babe for each student, primary paper and pencil, worksheet for each student, construction paper, glue


1. Say: Today, we are going to learn the sound /A/. Remember we learned that sometimes the letter A can say "ahhhh," like in cat or map. But, today we are going to learn another sound that a can make. A can sometimes say its name, /A/, like in snake or Jake.

2. Say: Now let's try a silly tongue twister like the one on this chart, "Abe the snake hates the cake." Now you try it with me! [Repeat the tongue twister as a class three times]. Now we will say it again but this time we are going to stretch out all of the words so we can hear the /A/ sound. I am going to demonstrate it: "AAAAbe the snaaaaake haaaates the caaaake." Now you try it with me! [Say it three times as a class].

3. Say: First thing we are going to do is see if we hear A say its name in some words. I will show you first. Lets see if it is in late... laaaaaate. I heard A say its name! Laaaaate. Now let's see if it is in the word mat... maaaaat. I don't hear the A say its name! Now we are going to do it together. When you hear the A say its name you are going to throw your hands up and say "Ayyy! There it is!" If you do not hear it say its name, then say "Naaah! Not there!" Do you hear A say its name in mate? Scat? Smash? Plate? Flask?

4. Say: Now let's spell words like the ones we just heard with an A that says its name! Many words give us clues when an A says its name. One clue is when a word has an A and an E at the end, like this [write a_e on the white board]. The blank means that a consonant goes there in a word. For example, I am going to write plane, like an airplane [write it on the white board]. Does everyone see the a_e? [Circle the –ane ending] What consonant is in the blank spot [gesture to the a_e written on the board]. Good! It is N!

5. Say: Now we are going to use our letterboxes to spell more /A/ words. I am going to do one first. I want to spell the word skate in my letterboxes. "She likes to skate on her driveway." First think I am going to do is break up the word and count the sounds: /s//k//A//t/. I hear four sounds! So, I need four boxes for my word skate. The first sound I hear is the /s/, so I am going to put that in the first box. Now I am going to stretch the word out again: ssss-kkkk-AAAA-tttt. I hear the /k/ sound nest, so I am going to put it in the next box. Ok, ssss-kkkk-AAAA-tttt. Next I hear A say its name, so that goes in the next box. There is still one more sound so I am going to say it again: ssss-kkkk-AAAA-tttt. The /t/ goes in the next box! Now I know that a silent E at the end helps A say its sound, so I am going to put that outside the box. The last thing I am going to do is read the word, like this: ssss-kkkk-AAAA-tttt… skate! My word is skate! Now I am going to give you some words to spell: 2 – [ate], 3 – [hate, make], 4 – [blame, slave, brave]. [After they have had a change to make a word, go over it as a class]

6. Say: Now that we can hear and spell the sound /A/, we are going to read a book called Jane and Babe. This book is about Babe, who is a lion at the zoo, and Jane who is the zookeeper. They are friends and play together. The problem is that Babe lives in a zoo. Lets read and find out if Jane and Babe can still be friends! [Read the book and allow the students the opportunity to retell the story]

7. Say: I am passing out a piece of paper and a pencil so you can write a message. I want you to write about your favorite animal at the zoo. If you do not know how to spell a word just do the best you can.

8. Pass out the worksheet and go over the instructions. Say: The first thing you need to do on this worksheet is to cut the pictures and words on the dotted line. [Wait for everyone to do this] Next I want you to hold the picture long ways and glue the picture that says "short a" on one side, and the one that says "long a" on the other side. Look at how I am doing this [demonstrate with document camera] Look at each picture and find out if the A in the word says its name or if it doesn't. Let's do one together. Look at this picture of this bat. Do you hear the A say its name? Good job! It goes under "short a." What about this picture of the cake? Does it say /A/? Excellent! It goes under "long a." You are going to do the same thing with the words. Alright get started! [Walk around the room to help them with any questions they have]

9. For assessment: the teacher can take up their worksheets to ensure the students comprehend the lesson. The teacher can also assess the students by taking notes of the student's responses and if they answer the questions correctly during the activities.


Super Teacher Worksheets. "Sorting: Long A, Short A."


Roberts, Brittany. "Ate Not At."


Pearman, Jeannie. "Race to Say /A/."


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