Baby says: a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a 

Beginning to Read

Hannah Stewart



Rationale:  The relationship between phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle illustrates why a child's level of phonemic awareness is considered the best single predictor of fluent reading.  Skillful readers must have accuracy and automaticity that can only come from the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words.  Children can not attain full phonemic awareness without understanding that oral language consist of sentences, sentences consist of words, words consist of syllables, and syllables consist of sound chunks.

Materials:  Letter boxes for each child, letter tiles/squares s, m, n, d, d, l, h, p, t, c and a for each child, tongue twister sentence strip (Abbey had an apple after dance class), word flashcards, two decodable texts for each child, stickers and whisper phones.



  1. Introduce the short vowel a and its short sound /a/.  Boy and girls, today we are going to learn about the short vowel a.  The vowel a makes the /a/ sound.  Look at the shape of my mouth when I make the /a/ sound.  Do you see how my mouth is open and my tongue is resting on my bottom lip?  Sometimes little babies make the /a/ sound when they cry.  Let's see if we can make the /a/ sound together (class makes /a/ sound together).  Very good!  Now I want each of you to show me that you can make the /a/ sound (call on each child to demonstrate the /a/ sound).  Now that everyone knows the /a/ sound, do you think we can make some new words that have the short /a/ sound?


  1. Explanation:  Good readers know how to blend sounds together to make words.  I know all of you want to become good readers.  Knowing what sound the short /a/ makes should help us learn some new words for our vocabulary wall.  Let's take our new short /a/ sound and blend it with some other letters (consonants) that we have learned this year.


  1. Review:  Let's have a quick review of some letters we have already learned.  I am going to give you some letter tiles and letter boxes.  Find the letter s and show it to me.  What sound does the letter s make?  That's right!  Teacher will ask the children to show her each letter s, m, n, d, l, h, p, t, c and a, and say the sound that each letter makes.
  2. Explain: Model and Sample Practice:  Now we are going to make our new words using the letter tiles that you have on your desk.  First, I want to make a word for you using my letter tiles.  Let's see, I think I will spell the word ham.  I am going to show you how I would spell ham using letter boxes.  What sound do I hear in the word h-h-a-a-a-m-m?  The first sound is /h/.  So I will put the letter h in my first box.  The next sound I hear is the short /a/ sound.  I will put the letter a in the second box.  The last sound I hear in the word ham-m-m is the /m/ sound.  So I will put an m in the last box.  What is the new word I have made?  Let's say it together and stretch the word so I can hear each sound.  Now I want you to take your letter boxes and spell some words for me.  Teacher will call out the following words as the children use their letterboxes to spell them: d-a-d, c-a-n,  h-a-d, m-a-p, S-a-m, s-a-n-d, and c-l-a-p.  Teacher will check to see that every child has spelled each word correctly before asking them to say the word together as a class.  The children, with the help of the teacher, will segment and blend phonemes together in order to determine if they can match letters to the sounds they make.


  1. Whole Text:  Now I am going to let you find a reading partner.  We will be reading two books, "My Cat Can" and "Dad and Sam".  I will be walking around the room and listening to each of you partner read.  Before we begin reading, can anyone tell me what words you see in the title of these two books that you spelled with your letter boxes (cat, can, dad, and Sam)? 


  1. Review:  Let's look at our tongue twister on our sentence strip.  "Abbey had an apple after dance class".  Let's say our tongue twister together.  How many a's do you see in our tongue twister?  How many words have the short /a/ sound?  Tell me what sound the short /a/ vowel makes again?  Now tell what words you heard in the tongue twister that has that same short /a/ sound.  Let's clap and give ourselves a hand.  You are doing such a great job!  Now take your whisper phones and read your two books one more time.


  1. Assessment:  While children are rereading their stories with their whisper phones, the teacher will call the children one by one to her desk.  Using word flashcards, the teacher will ask the child to stretch the word that appears on the flashcard before pronouncing it.  Flashcard words will include words that contain the short /a/ vowel sound.  Children who can say ten out of ten words correctly will get a sticker.


Armbruster, Bonnie and Jean Osborn (2001).  Put Reading First:  The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read.  C. Ralph Adler, RMC Research Corporation.

 Murray, B. A., and Lesniak, T. (1999).  The Letterbox Lesson:  A Hands-On Approach for Teaching Decoding.  The Reading Teacher, March 1999.

 Schreiber, Anne and Gail Tuchman (1997).  My Cat Can.  Scholastic Inc., Instructional Publishing Group.

 Shefelbine, John (1997).  Dad and Sam.  Scholastic Inc., Instructional Publishing Group.

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