Aaaaahh Choo!

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Rachel Thompson

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence _a_=/a/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling _a_. They will learn a meaningful representation (Aaaaahh Choo, sneezing), they will spelland read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence _a_=/a/.

Materials: Graphic image of a person sneezing; cover-up critter; whiteboard or smartboard Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: a,c,d,n,m,p,r,s,t; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: and, rat, pan, rack, mass, sand; decodable text: Pat Ran and assessment worksheet.


1.      Say: In order to become an expert reader we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read some sight words, like the, and today we are going to learn about short a. When I say /a/ I think of a person sneezing saying “Aaaaahh Choo!” [Show graphic image]. Now let’s look at the spelling of /a/ that we’ll learn today. The way to spell /a/ is with the letter a. [Write  _a_ on the board]. These blank lines here mean there is a consonant before and after the a.

2.      Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /a/ in words, I hear a say its name /a/ and my lips are open wide to make the a sound. [Make a vocal gesture for /a/.] I’ll show you first: and. I heard a say its name and I felt my lips open. There is a short a in and. Now I’m going to see if a short a is in rate. Hmmm, I didn’t hear a say its name and my lips didn’t open wide. Now you try. If you hear /a/ say, “Aaaaahh Choo!” If you don’t hear /a/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in pat, rain, coat, pant, sack, lip? [Have children pretend to sneeze when they feel /a/ say its name.]

3.      What if I want to spell the word sand? “When I go to the beach, I like to play in the sand.” Sand means dirt in this sentence. To spell sand in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /s//a//n//d/. I need four boxes. I hear that /a/ just before the /n/ so I’m going to put an a in the 2nd box. The word starts with /s/, that’s easy; I need an s. Now I’m going to say it slowly, /s//a//n//d/. I think I heard /n/ so I’ll put a n right after the a. One more letter [Point to the letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//a//n//d/.] The missing one is /d/. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. I’m going to start with _a_; that part says /a/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: s-a, /sa/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sounds, /sa-nd/. Oh, sand, like “I play with sand at the beach.”

4.      Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for at. “At home I like to watch television.” What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress]. You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /a/. Here’s the word: pat, I pat my dog behind the ear. [Allow children to spell remaining words: and, ran, rack, mass, sand.]

5.      Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read on word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6.      Say: You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /a/: _a_. Now we are going to read a book called Pat Ran. This is a story of a boy named Pat who ran. Pat likes to run a lot. Let’s pair up and take turns reading Pat Ran to find out why Pat ran. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while the teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Pat Ran aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]

7.      Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /a/=_a_. I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, we have some words missing. Your job is to look in the box of word choices, and decide which _a_ word fits best to make sense of this very short story. First try reading all the words in the box, then choose the word that fits best in the space. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress].



Pat Ran


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