Aaaa! It’s A!

Emergent Literacy

Amanda Kaye Owens

Topic: Phonemic Awareness a=/a/



Rationale: Phonemic Awareness is one of the best predictors of reading success because students must be able to connect spoken phonemes to written graphemes.  Students will create a relationship between the vocal gesture of /a/ and its grapheme map in text and words.  In this lesson students will orally distinguish the phoneme /a/ through a read aloud  as well as recognizing the grapheme in writing and print through inventive spelling. 


Materials:          primary paper and pencils for each student

                               Small mirrors for each student or groups of students

                               A Cat Nap Educational Insights. 1990

                               Picture page for assessment



  1. Objective’Today we are going to learn about the secret code that helps us learn to read and write.  The letters of the alphabet are really symbols for the sounds and mouth movements we make when we say different words. .  Every letter in the alphabet has a special mouth move.  Today we will learn the mouth move for the letter a. 
  2. Review ‘Have you ever been so afraid that you put your hands on your face and screamed ‘Aaaahhhh!?’ Everyone try it in a whisper scream’ That’s the same way our mouth moves when we say /a/.  Our lips are round.  Look in the mirror with your partner or group and say /a/ three times.  Try these words while you practice apple, alligator.’
  3. Explanation  ‘Now lets try a tongue twister, it’s on the chart.  ‘Ally the alligator asked Adam for apples.’  Let’s say it twice together, think about the way your mouth moves with each word.’  Repeat twice.  ‘When I hear these words I think about all the sounds I hear.  In the word Ally I hear an /a/ first like /Aaaa/lly.  Model for students the sounds in the word and the mouth movements of /a/.  ‘Let’s really stretch out the /a/ sound now, ‘Aaaallly the alligator aaaaasked Aaaaadam for aaaaples.’ Good, now let’s break off those /a/ sounds, /A/lly the /a/lligator /a/sked /A/dam for /a/pples.’  Good, did you feel your mouth get round with each /a/ sound?
  4. Model Give students primary paper and pencils.  ‘Does anyone know the letter we use to represent the /a/ sound?  Which letter tells us the code for our mouth?’ Students answer or tell them.  Have the letter a printed on the board.  ‘When we see this letter, it tells us the code for its sound. We know to make the /a/ sound.’  Lets practice writing some a’s.’  Start a little under the fence, go up and touch the fence, go around to the sidewalk and back up again. Then come straight down.  Model for students a few a’s on the board.  ‘Now, it’s your turn, write an a and I will come around and help you.’ When each student has the concept ask them to write 5 more on the line. Go around the room to assess and assist.  ‘Great job on writing a.  When we see this letter we know to move our mouth in a circle and make the a sound.’
  5. Practice ‘I have a game for you to play.  See you if can guess the word I am thinking of.  Remember to listen for the sounds in each one.’ Go through riddles like:

 ‘I am thinking of an animal that has /a/ in the middle of the word, is it dog or cat?’

‘I am thinking of a fruit we eat. The first sound you hear is /a/. Is it apple or banana?’ etc.

  1. Text ‘Great job at figuring out my game.  You remembered the special way your mouth moves when you hear /a/.’  I have a special book today about a cat that is very sleepy. I am going to read it once and I want you to listen for words with the /a/ sound.’ Read the book, using brief conversation throughout to monitor comprehension.  ‘I am going to read it one more time, when you hear a word that has /a/, make the scared face from before.’ Model for students.   We will list some of the words on the board. Read again, model writing a with the words and think out loud about the symbol it gives in the alphabetic code. 
  2. ‘Very good listening and figuring out those /a/ words and movements. Let’s pretend that this was your cat. What kinds of things would you do with him? Write them down in a sentence.’  Walk around room discussing ideas and praising a’s.
  3. ‘Today you learned how to crack the code of reading and writing.  You can remember the way your mouth should move when you see an a in a word. Now a will never make you afraid and say aaahhh again!’
  4. Assessment: Give students a picture page with /a/ sounds. Go over each picture and ask them to color the ones they hear /a/ in.  Discuss the pictures they colored and model phoneme in each.


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Laura Earl. Abby the Alligator.

Auburn University