Abby the Black Lab

black lab

Emergent Literacy Design

Rebecca Bracken

Rationale: At the end of this lesson, students will connect with the phoneme a=/a/ through previous experiences, relate to the phoneme a=/a/ through memorable examples, hear the phoneme a=/a/ in alliterations, see how the phoneme a=/a/ is part of many words, and practice identifying the phoneme a=/a/.  Phoneme practice important because students must “demonstrate an initial understanding of letter-sound relationships through understanding the letter-sound correspondence” (Alabama Course of Study, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Objective#6) in order to become phonemically aware. Students must become phonemically aware so they can become a beginning reader.  This lesson will provide meaningful and relevant instruction and practice of the phoneme a=/a/.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with the letter a and “Abby the black lab dashed at the fat cat”; word strips for each pair of students bad, good, dad, mom, van, truck, pan, bowl, bat, glove, rat, mouse, cat, dog, black, brown; a popsicle stick for each student; and the text  In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming.

1. Begin the lesson by explaining all words are made up of spoken sounds that we write down with letters and read by figuring out how the letters make up words.  Today we’re going to be scientists and investigate how the letter a makes the sound /a/. Let’s all say /a/.  Say it again and notice how your mouth moves when you say it.  Now watch me say it.  Can you see how my mouth moves when I say /a/?

2. Ask the students to say /a/. This is the sound that the letter a makes (point to the letter a written on the chart).  Can you think of any words that have the /a/ sound? Teacher writes down responses on the chart, if none are given she gives examples of children’s names or objects found in the classroom.   I’m going to say some words and when you hear the /a/ sound say /a/ and notice how your mouth is moving.  Do you hear /a/in bad or good, dad or mom, van or truck, pan or bowl, bat or glove, rat or mouse, cat or dog, black or brown (teacher holds up the card with the corresponding word).

3. When I look for the /a/ sound or any other sounds in words, I always stretch out each sound so that I can hear it.  I’m going to look for the /a/ sound in the word Abby.  Let’s see, AAAAA bbbbb eeeeee.  Yep, it’s there, AAAAAA Abby—the first sound.  Let’s all look for the /a/ sound in the word black.  Hmmmm, /b/ /l/ /a/ /k/. 
Did you hear it?  What about in dog? /d/ /o/ /g/?  Nope I don’t hear it in dog.

4.  Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. Teacher models stretching out the vowel sound, “Aaaaaabby the blaaaaack laaaaab daaaashed aaaat the faaaat caaaaat”.  Now, everyone say it together. Make sure you stretch out the /a/ when you hear it in the word: “Aaaaaabby the blaaaaack laaaaab daaaashed aaaat the faaaat caaaaat”.  Try it again and when you hear the /a/ sound, turn to your neighbor and show them how you make the /a/ sound.

5.  Students take out Primary paper and pencil. We can use the letter a to spell /a/. Let’s write it. Start under the fence. Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down. I want to hear everyone say /a/. Walk around and check papers.

6. Read In the Tall, Tall Grass aloud and discuss the story. Re-read and have the students clap when they hear words with /a/. List their words on the chart.

7. Students will be assessed on their accuracy of identifying words with /a/ sound by playing “Slap It”.  Students will work in pairs and go through the word cards; when they come to a word with the /a/ sound, they will “Slap It” with their Popsicle stick. 


Fleming, Denise (1991).  In the tall, tall grass.  New York: Holt

Murray, Bruce.  Phoneme Awareness.  The Reading Genie.

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