“When a says its name”
Beginning Reading
Meredith Rich

Rationale: Readers need to be able to break the alphabetic code in order to learn to read. They need to know that sometimes when two letters get together they form a new sound. This lesson is designed to teach the new correspondence ai = /A/ and to review short a. We will do this through several activities; formal instruction, a worksheet, a review game, and the bingo read game. These activities will review old correspondences and teach a new one as well.

Materials: Chalk board, chalk, multiple copies of worksheet (original is attached on back), pencil, note cards, markers, white paper, and a ruler. You will also need multiple copies of the book, "A Race on the Lake." (this is optional)


1. Explain the following to your class. “We have already learned that a makes the sound /a/. We now are going to learn that when a and i are together a says its name /A/. For example, in this word (write on board do not say “rain”) you have the letters which say /A/, they are a and i. The r in this word says what? /r/ that is correct and what does the n say /n/, correct. So if we put it all together we have /r/ /A/ /n/. What word is that? Correct rain. So now you know that when a and i are together a says its name. “ You may want to try a few more words with your students to make sure they understand. (Here are a few: strain, air, pain, gain.)

2. After you have explained ai = /A/ to your students write a few words on the board with both short a and ai in them. Have your students do the following. “I am going to call you up one at a time and I want you to pick out a word for me. I then want you to read the word and tell me if it says /a/ or /A/. Finally, I want you to tell me how you know it is short a or long a.” Try a few words like the following: apple, air, hat, Spain, sack, and train. Any ai or a words will do.

3. Ask them questions to find out if they understand. “Okay class, I am going to give you a couple of sentences and I want you to tell me which one has long a in it. Do you hear /A/ in pain or hurt? Do you hear /A/ in strain or stretch? Do you hear /A/ in prison or jail? Do you hear /A/ in bail or money?” Continue until everyone gets the hang of it.

4. Next pass out the worksheets that are attached at the bottom of this page. (make multiple copies first) Have the students match the words from the word list to the pictures on the worksheet. They should write the word underneath the picture. Then have them write short or long beside the words on the list to indicate if it is a long a or a short a.  Before you give them the instructions orally you may.  Before you give them the instructions orally you may need to tell them the name of each one of the pictures and read the word list for them. This exercise also helps them distinguish between ai and a.

5. A review game is also needed. Place ai words you have gone over on note cards, you may also use other correspondences that you have been over with them in the past. Have them partner up and take turns going. They will play this game like concentration. They should turn over one card at a time. When they find a pair of ai words they keep it and so on. If they do not find a pair after the first time it is the next persons turn.

6. Another good review game is bingo read. Prepare a five by five block grid on a sheet of unlined white paper. Each block should be large enough in which to print words. In each block print long a or short a, alternating back and forth. In the middle you should have a free choice space. Next, make a list of words to call out, these should be long a and short a words. You also should include a few old correspondence words you have already learned. What you will do is call out a word. The students then have to decide if it has short a or long a in it. They mark their sheet with the correct answer. When they hear a word that doesn’t have the /a/ or /A/ sound in it then they mark the free space. This continues until someone shouts out read bingo. In order to get read bingo you must get a line going across or up and down. Everyone should be done at the same time if done correctly. This is good because everyone then is rewarded and those who did not get it can receive help by reviewing the words that were called out.

7. Have multiple copies of the book, A Race on the Lake. Have the students read this book to themselves several times, for practice using long a.  You may want to introduce the correspondence a_e=/A/ before you read the book, but it does not have to be done. (You can use another book as long as it has long a in it.)

8. For assessment have the students read the book, A Race on the Lake, aloud to you.  Take a running record to note their miscues. This will let you know what they need help with. Or you may want the children to divide in partners and use a peer checklist to assess each other.


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Attached Worksheet for Students


        apple                cap                                train                cat

        mail                   airplane                        rain                 man


Write the words underneath the pictures. Use the word list for help.  Then write out beside the word (on the page) "short" or "long" to tell if thea in the word is short or long.