A-a-a-mazing A’s

   Beginning Reading

Sarah Stanley

Rationale:  Beginning readers need to be fluent in letter recognition and phoneme awareness in order to be able to learn to read.  Phoneme awareness is the ability to find vocal gestures in spoken words.  This lesson is designed for children to understand the a=/a/ correspondence.




Elkonin Boxes for each child

Elkonin Box for the teacher

Picture of a baby crying

Individual baggies for each child containing letter for letter box lesson (a, t, c, b, f, d, r, g, h, and m)

Dry erase board


/a/ words written on cards for assessment purposes




  1. Introduction: “As you know words are made up of sounds.  Can anyone tell me what letter makes the /a/ sound?  That’s right!  The /a/ sound is made by the letter A!  If you stretch the sound out it kind of sounds like a crying baby, doesn’t it?” Model for the children. 
  2. Teach background knowledge: On a dry erase board write the letter A and make the crying baby sound.  Have all the children do it after you.  “Now I have a tongue twister that I want you to learn because it will help you remember the /a/ sound.  Let’s try it! Adam and Amy ate apples and sat on an ant hill.  Let’s do it together.  Aaaadam aaand Aaaamy ate aaaaples aaand saaaat on aaan aaant hill.  How many times did we hear the /a/ sound? 8, that’s right!”
  3. Now we are going to see if you can pick the /a/ sound out of some words.  I’m going to say two words and I want to see if you can hear it.  I will model for the children picking between hand and foot. Haaand and foot.  I hear the /a/ sound in haaand.  Now it’s your turn!  Do you hear /a/ in sit or sat, pet or pat, hat or hot, tip or tap?  Now that we can pick the /a/ sound out of words we are going to practice making words with the letter.
  4. Have children get out their letter boxes and their baggies of letters.  I will do a letter box lesson including the words at, cab, fad, rag, ham, and hand.  We will use the letters a, t, c, b, f, d, r, g, h, and m.
  5. We will then read “Cat Nap” which is a decodable book for the /a/ sound.  The children will have a chance to participate in a guided reading lesson on this book in which we all work together to sound out the words.
  6. Assessment:  For each child I will give them a new /a/ word and have them read it.  Some will be actual words and some will be pseudo words.





Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. (1999) ”The Letterbox Lesson:  A
 hands-on approach for teaching decoding.”  The Reading Teacher, March 1999.  pp. 644-650

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