Kelly Starr ­ Emergent Literacy 


Rationale­ Before children can learn to read, they must be able to identify phonemes in words.  Some of the very first phonemes children come across are short vowels.  One of these vowels is short a.  This lesson identifies the phoneme /a/.  The children will learn an important representation of the letter symbol for a.  They will also practice finding /a/ in words in a story, and practice finding words with /a/ in a song.  

Materials­ poster with "Ally the cat adds and subtracts in math class", primary paper and pncil, drawing paper and crayons, picture page (by the teacher) of cat, rat, apple, pig, cow, bat, cap, fan, Pat's Jam (Educational Insight)

Procedures ­ 

  1. Introduce the lesson by making the children excited about learning a special code in our language.  Explain that it is important how we move our mouths when we say words, because different mouth moves can produce different words.  Today we will introduce the mouth move for /a/.  Even though it might be hard at first, our mouths will get used to it and we will begin to identify or pick out that sound in many words.
  2. Ask students, "Have you ever heard someone say "Gazunheit" when you sneeze?  It is the same thing as saying 'Bless you'.  When we sneeze, we hold our mouth wide open to say aaaaaaah chooo!   Let’s hold our mouths like we do when we start to sneeze.  /a/!  /a/!  /a/!  (Good ­ now stop your sneeze right in the middle).  This is the mouth movement we will make for /a/.  Look at the word cat.  The letter in the middle is our letter a.
  3. Let’s try this tongue twister on the poster.  "Ally the cat adds and subtracts in math class."  Everybody say it all together three times.  Now let’s stretch the /a/ sound when we hear it.  Aaaaaaally the caaaat aaaads and subtraaaaaacts in maaaath claaaaaass."  Good!
  4. (Have students hold up their pencil and pull out their primary paper).  "Okay, now we are going to practice writing /a/.  I will show you how to write little letter a.  Start a little below the fence, and curve up to touch the fence just a little bit.  Then, keep circling around and touch the sidewalk and curve back up towards the fence.  Now, do not lift your pencil, but draw straight down to the sidewalk. (Model the letter on the board step by step).  Now, I want to see everybody draw the letter a.  When I put a smily face on your picture, then I want you to write the letter 5 more times.  When you see this letter, that is our sign to say /a/.
  5. (Ask the students these questions and call on them individually to answer).  Do you hear /a/ in cat or dog?  Bag or box?  Rat or mouse?  Fan or fin?  Hat or shirt?  Apple or peach?  Now, let’s see if you can see the /a/ mouth move that we learned when we say our tongue twister again.  If you see me make the move with my mouth then say /a/, but nod your head no if you do not hear it.  Ally the cat adds and subtracts in math class. (Say the words slowly and separately).
  6. Now we will sing a song about our sound /a/.  It goes to the tune of "Skip to My Lou".  Listen to me sing it one time, and then we will sing it all together.  'Who has a word that has an /a/?  Has, has, has an /a/?  Who has a word that has an /a/?  Skip to the Lou, my darling!"  (Sing the song three times all together with the class).  List the words that they say on the board.  Then, ask the children about each word that was said to make sure it contains the /a/ sound.  
  7. (Do a brief book talk about Pat's Jam.  Ask the children to raise their hand and you will nod whenever there is an /a/ sound.  List these words that they raise their hands to on the board.  Now ask the children to color a picture of an apple and write a short message about it, to encourage their invented spelling.  Show the children each other's work.)
  8. For assessment, give the children the picture pages with different objects on it.  As a class, point at the pictures and ask the children to identify them.  Ask them to color in the objects with the /a/ sound, but to leave the others blank.  (Pictures of cat, rat, pig, apple, cow, bat, cap, fan on the picture pages)

Reference:  Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Developing Phoneme Awareness.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  New Jersey.  Prentice-Hall, 1995.  pp.23-24 Joy Gettys ­ "A Baby is Crying…Aah"

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