Home Alone
Emergent Litercy
By: Christina Barnes


In order for children to be able to read, it is important for them to first learn how to decode the letters in a word by knowing what phonemes are represented.  This lesson will help students in grasping a better understanding of the short vowel a.  Students will learn the phoneme with a picture, a gesture, and many practices at identifying the sound.

*Primary paper
*phoneme picture
*poster with "Allie the alligator acts aggravated"
*A Cat Nap (AU, Phonics Readers by Educational Insights, 1990)
*picture page with hat, apple, dog, bag, flag, glasses, flower, and shoe.


1.    Begin by explaining to the students that we are going to work together to better understand a sound of the alphabet.  First we are going to see how our mouth moves when we make the sound for the short a
2.    Ask students:  Has anyone ever seen the movie Home Alone?  What do we do when we are scared?  We might say "AAAA".  When you make that sound, pay attention to how your mouth moves.  Every time you say the short a, your mouth will make that same movement.  Let's practice and everyone make the sound together and make a face like you're scared and home alone.
3.    Now we are going to do a tongue twister.  "Allie the alligator acts aggravated."  Everyone say the tongue twister together three times.  Now lets do it again but we are going to stretch out that /a/ sound at the beginning of the words. "Aaallie the aaalligator aaacts aaagravated."  Let's say it one more time but this time every time you hear that short a, make the home alone face.

4.    We can also learn how to write this sound by using the letter a.  Watch how I write it, start a little under the fence, go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down.  Now I want you to try and write the letter a 9 times on your own.  Every time you see the letter a, you'll know that it's the home alone sound.

5.    When we are trying to find the letter a in a word, we can stretch out the sounds we hear and if we hear that home alone sound, we will know there is a letter a in the word.  Listen to how I find a letter a in the word flag.  F-f-f-f l-l-l-l a-a-a-a...did you hear it?  So I know that flag has that short a in it.
6.    Each of you are going to get a card with two pictures on it.  I want you to decide which picture is shown for a word that has the short a sound in it.  Call on students and ask them to tell their two pictures and tell why they picked the picture that they did. 
7.    Say:  Tab is a little kitty.  She likes to take naps pretty much anywhere.  But one day, she takes a nap in a weird place and something strange happens.  Listen and find out what happens.  Read A Cat Nap and ask questions as reading.  Now I'm going to read it again and every time you hear our home alone /a/, I want you to make our scared face. 
8.    Have students draw a picture of a cat taking a nap in a strange place and have them write a story to explain what is happening in their picture. 
9.    In order to assess the students learning, hand out the picture page and as a class, name each picture.  Then have them only color those pictures whose names have /a/. 


Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The
Reading Teacher, 644-650

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