Active Alligators Like Apples
In order for children to read and
spell words, they must acquire the knowledge that letters stand for
phonemes and that spellings present the phonemes in spoken words. Short
vowels especially, are some of the most difficult phonemes to recognize
and learn; therefore, children should be given explicit instruction and
practice with short vowels. This lesson will focus on recognizing a =
/a/. Students will learn to identify /a/ in spoken words by learning a
meaningful representation and its written symbol, and finally, practice
finding a in words.
- picture of an alligator
with his mouth open and an a in it
- chart with tongue twister:
"Andrew the active alligator likes apples"
- letterboxes (up to 6 boxes,
1 set per student)
- ziploc bags with necessary
letter tiles (1 per student) - l,a, p, s, t,
g, c, r, b, n, k, d, f
- flash cards with
words that students spell - at, tab, nag, fan, flat, span, stag
- book A Cat Nap by Sheila Cushman (Educational
- picture page for assessment
- bag, bucket, cat, dog, hat, nut, bat, broom, crab, fish
1. Introduce the lesson by telling students that letters stand for
mouth moves that we make when we say words. Then, teacher will discuss
how the letter a has its own
special mouth move and how its important in learning to read and write.
Today we are going to learn about /a/.
At first, it might be hard to hear /a/ but with some practice, you'll
be able to pick it out in words in no time.
2. Discuss with students the sound an alligator might make if he were
to open his mouth. When I think about
/a/, it reminds me of an alligator opening his mouth about to eat an
apple. He's going to say /a/. Demonstrate to students by
extending both arms out with hands touching palms and opening up and
down. Now let's try our alligator /a/
by opening our alligator mouth.
3. Show students the chart with tongue twister. Let's look at the chart. On it, is a tongue
twister that will help us to recognize /a/. Look at the words while I
point at and read them. "Andrew the active alligator likes appetizing
apples." I want everyone to read it with me and listen for /a/. We'll
say it two times together. Afterwards, ask students to
stretch the /a/ in the words and use their alligator mouth hand motion
when they hear /a/. Teacher will model the first time. "Aaandrew the aaactive aaalligator likes
4. Make sure students can recognize /a/ in spoken words. Do you hear /a/ in tip or cab? Flag or
puff? Red or jam? Make sure all students understand. Ask
students if they can think of words that have /a/ in them.
5. Begin the letterbox lesson, make sure that students have their
letterboxes and tiles. Then model for students. I want to spell the word "crab." I have
four letterboxes that go along with each mouth move that I make. I'll
say it slower so I can figure out which letters need to go in each
letterbox. C-c-r-r-r-a-a-a-a-a-b-b. I know that I need an a because I heard /a/ and I also
heard a c at the beginning,
it said /k/. So I put my c in
the 1st letterbox, then I hear /r/, that's an r, so I put it in the 2nd
letterbox. Now comes my a for
/a/, and finally, I put the letter b
in the last letterbox for the /b/ I heard at the end. I have just
spelled the word "crab." Allow students to work on this. Start
out with two letterboxes and move up - 2: [at], 3: [tab, nag, fan], 4:
[flat, span, stag]. Teacher will walk around and observe students as
s/he calls out the words to be spelled. If students have trouble and
cannot figure out on their own, provide help.
6. Bring out flash cards with the words that students had just spelled.
If a student is having problems, try the letter tiles and spell the
word. This is a tough one; I'll spell
it out with the tiles (spell "stag"). I am going to to break the word
into smaller parts. I see the alligator a, so I know that says /a/. Then
there's an s and a t before the a. So now I have /s/ /t/ /a/. Now I
put g on the end, /s/ /t/ /a/
/g/. Make sure students understand that they can use coverups
to decode words.
7. Pass out the book, A Cat Nap.
Today we are going to read a book
about a cat named Tab. Tab likes to nap and one day, he takes a nap in
a bag. Well Sam, picks up the bag with Tab still in it. Oh no, what's
going to happen to Tab? Wjere is he going? We'll have to read and find
out. Students will read A
Cat Nap and talk about the story. Read it again and ask the
students to make the alligator mouth move when they hear words with
/a/. Write down the words that they mention.
Pass out the picture page with 6 pictures on it. Each picture will have
3 words next to it, one of which, is the word for the picture. Students
will circle the word that matches the picture.
Marsden, Brigette. "Eeehhhhhh, What Did You Say?"
Murray, Bruce. "Sound the Foghorn." example passed out in class &
"How to teach a Letterbox Lesson."
Rickard, Laci. "Appetizing Apples."
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