Aaaaa!  A Monster!

Design for Beginning Reading

Kimberly Bosarge

Rationale:  Knowledge of letters and the ability to separate phonemes in spoken words are the two best predictors of reading success (Adams, 1990).  In this lesson, students will gain awareness of the phoneme /a/ and practice identifying/forming its corresponding graphemes (Aa ).


Picture of a child screaming at a silly monster.
Dry erase marker or chalk
Primary paper
Elkonin boxes for each student in the group
Plastic letter tiles for each student in the group
Visual with "The ant ate the apple in Ann’s bag."
Individual copies of
A Cat Nap (Educational Insights, 1990).
Individual picture pages with correct number of letterboxes beneath each picture.


#1 – Begin the lesson by explaining that we use letters to represent the sounds in our language.  Then say:  "In order to become an expert reader, you must learn each letter and the sound that it makes. 

#2 – Write Aa on the board.  "Today we are going to learn about the letter Aa.  This letter makes the /a/ sound."  Show the students the picture of a child screaming at a silly monster.  Ask students:  "Can you tell me what is going on in this picture?  That’s right, the little kid is screaming aaaaa.  Have you ever screamed aaaaaa (modeling with hands to face)?  When you scream aaaaa, you are making the sound that the letter a makes.   Let’s try it all together!  Great!"

#3 – "Now let’s do a tongue twister!  I’ll read it first. (Pointing to each word) The ant ate the apple in Ann’s bag.  Let’s read it together.  Great Job!  This time, I would like you to stretch out all of the
a’s.  The /aaaa/nt /aaaa/te the /aaaa/pple in /Aaaa/nn’s b/aaaa/g.  Excellent!  

#4 – "Now that you all know the letter
Aa makes the /a/ sound, we are going to practice hearing this sound in some words.  Are you ready?  Do you hear /a/ in cat or dog?  In house or hat?  In sand or land?  Good Job!"

#5 – "Please take out your paper and a pencil.  We are going to practice writing A and a.  First, we will write big A.  We’re going to start at the grass, go up to the sky, go back down to the grass, and then draw a line in the middle (model on the board).  Let your neighbor check your work.  Now, I would like you to write seven more A's on your paper (walk around to observe students’ writing).        Next, we are going to practice writing little a.  We’re going to start at the fence, go around to the grass, back up to the fence, and then straight down.  Let your neighbor check your work.  Now, I would like you to write seven more a's (walk around to observe students’ writing).

#6 – Pass out Elkonin letterboxes and tiles.  "Now that we know what sound the letter Aa makes and how to write it, we are going to spell some words that use this letter.  Suppose I wanted to spell the word cat.  Because the word cat has three sounds /c/a/t/, I’m going to unfold three boxes.  Now, let me think of the first sound in cat.  /c/c/c/at.  I hear the /c/ sound.  The letter c makes that sound.  I will put a c in the first box.  The next sound I hear in cat is /a/a/a/.  What letter makes that sound?  Right, the letter a.  I will put an a in the second box.  Now for the last sound.  Ca/t/t/t.  It’s the /t/ sound.  The letter t makes that sound."

#7 – "Now it’s your turn!  Let’s try some words that have three sounds.  You will need to unfold three boxes.  The first word is
hat.  Once everyone at your table has spelled the word, compare your answers."  Model spelling the word hat on the board.  Repeat this process with the following words:  3-[nap, can, and], 4-[back, flag, clap].

#8 – Write bag on the board.  "  Please raise your hand if you would like to read this word for the class.  Good Job!  Let's practice reading this word together.  /b/a/g.  Bag."  Repeat this process with cap, ran, pals, and nap.

#9 – "Find the book entitled A Cat Nap.  This book is about a cat named Tab.  Tab loves to take naps in strange places.  In order to find out where Tab takes a nap, you’ll have to read A Cat Nap."  Allow students to read the story individually or with a partner (partners – read alternate pages).  "After you finish reading the story, write about your favorite part." 

:  Have each student read the following list of words:  at, rag, and, lap, man, and slap.  Record each student's miscues.


Adams, Lacey.  "Aaaaaah!!!  Please Don’t Cry Baby." 

Adams, M.J. (1990).  Beginning to Read:  Thinking and Learning About Print

           University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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