Rock the Baby

Emergent Literacy Design
Kim Alldredge

Rationale: In order for students to learn how to read they need to gain an understanding of graphemes and phonemes.  Graphemes are letters that represent sounds and phonemes are sounds or “mouth moves” from which spoken words are made.  For example, e is the grapheme for the phoneme /e/ as in egg.  Students have to learn to recognize phonemes in spoken words.  This lesson will help students identify /a/ (short a).  Students will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a phrase or action that will help them represent the sound and by having a letter symbol.  After students have a way to represent /a/ they will then practice finding /a/ in words I have provided.

 Materials: Primary paper and pencil

                   Chart with “Aunt Ann ran to the sandy beach to tan”

A card with /a/ written on one side and a question mark on the other side for each student in the classroom

Drawing paper and crayons

                   Book:  A Cat Nap

                   Picture page with rag, bag, sun, mat, pot, hat, mitt, fan, man


  1. Introduce the lesson by telling the students that all words are made up of sounds.  Some sounds may be represented by more than one letter.  The hard part is figuring out what letters stand for what sounds.  Today we are going to work on spotting the /a/ sound.  At first /a/ will seem hidden in words, but soon enough with practice you will be able to spot /a/ in all kinds of words.
  1. Ask students: Have you ever been in a room with a baby crying and their wailing cry sounded like /a/?  That’s the sound we are looking for in words.  Let’s pretend to cry like a baby and say /a/. [Wipe your eyes like a crying baby.]  A baby cries when he is hungry.  Cry like a baby: /a/.

  1. Let’s try a tongue twister.  “Aunt Ann ran to the sandy beach to tan.”  Everybody say it three times together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ found in the words.  “Aaaunt Aaann raaan to the saaandy beach to taaan.”  Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/a/  unt  /a/  nn  r  /a/  n  to the s  /a/  ndy beach to t  /a/  n.”

  1. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil].  We can use the letter a to represent /a/.  Watch me as I write the letter a.  I am going to start at the fence and curve down to the sidewalk like I would write a lowercase c.  Without lifting my pencil I am going to go back up to the fence where I started my curve and draw a line straight down to the sidewalk with a tail at the end.  Okay now I want to see everybody write the letter a like I did.  After I put a smiley face on it, I want you to make nine more just like that one.  When you see the letter a all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /a/.

  1. [Call on students to answer and tell how they knew that was the answer.]  Do you hear /a/ in ran or run?  Flat or round?  Skinny or fat?  Last or first?  Orange or apple? [Pass out a card to each student.]  Let’s see if you can spot the sound /a/ in some words.  Show me /a/ if you hear /a/ and the question mark if you don’t.  [Give words one by one.] Aunt, Ann, ran, to, the, sandy, beach, to, tan. 
  1. [Read A Cat Nap and talk about the story.  Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /a/.  List their words on the board.  Then have each student draw a cat and write a message about it using invented spelling.  Display their work.]

  1. For assessment, provide a picture page for each student with some pictures representing words with the sound /a/ in it and others with out.  Have students circle the pictures whose names have /a/ in them.


                    Cushman, S.  1990.  A Cat Nap.  Carson, CA: Educational Insights. 

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