The Baby's Crying…Aaa!
Beginning Reading

By: Christen Walton

Rationale:  Children need to be able to understand that when our mouth moves and makes a sound, that is a phoneme.  Along with this, they need to be able to understand the relationship between letters and phonemes, and this lesson will help students do this.  Short vowels are some of the first correspondences that students need to learn and so today we are going to learn the correspondence a = /a/.  We will do this by learning a meaningful representation of the /a/ sound, by recognizing it in spoken words, by spelling words with /a/ in them in a letterbox lesson, and by recognizing /a/ words in the text The Cat Nap.

Materials:  letterboxes for each child, letter tiles for each child (they will need the letters c, a, t, b, l, p, s, g, r, h), chalk, chalkboard, class copies of the book The Cat Nap (Educational Insights), two sheets of primary paper for each child, picture page for the assessment

Procedure:
1.  Introduce the lesson by explaining why it is important to learn that letters represent the sounds.  "Today we are going to learn about the letter a and the sound it makes.  We want to learn this sound so that when we hear it we will be able to write is as well."

2.  Ask the students to take out primary writing paper.  Review how to make the letter a and have the students practice on their own paper after they have listened to me explain and model how to make it.

3.  "Have you ever heard a baby cry?  Well the /a/ sound is very similar to that sound.  I want to hear everyone make a sound like a baby does."  (Have all the children make this sound)  "I am going to say some words and if you hear the /a/ sound then I want you to say, "aaaahh."  Cat, dog, bed, jack, glass, yes, and can."

4.  Pass out letterboxes and letter tiles to each child.  "Now we are going to work on spelling words that have the /a/ sound in them.  Each of you have his or her own letterboxes and these letterboxes will help use know how many sounds are in each word.  First we are going to use three boxes.  I will show you first with the word cat.  I hear the /k/ sound so I am going to put a c in the first box.  I hear the /a/ sound that we were working on so I am going to but an a in the second box.  I hear a /t/ sound and I am going to put a t in the last box.  Now I want each of you to try."  I will give them the words bat, lap, pal, last, grab, trash.  After each word I will call on one child to write on the board what he or she put in each letterbox.  Then I will write the words on the board one and at a time and the class will say each word together.

5.  Pass out a copy of The Cat Nap to each student and have them each read the book silently.  "Today we are going to read a book about a cat named Tab who likes to nap all the time.  I want you to read the book silently and then when you are finished, I want you to be thinking of words you found in the book that have the /a/ sound."  Then I will call on students to share words they found and write them on the board.

5.  For the assessment I will give each child a page that has many pictures on it.  Across the top of a page, there will be a list of the words: mat, cab, tag, and sack.  The children will match the words to the pictures and write them below the picture.

Reference:  Murray, Bruce A., and Theresa Lesniak. (1999)  "The Letterbox lesson:  A hands-on approach for teaching decoding." The Reading Teacher, March 1999.  pp 644-650.

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