Beginning Reading Design:  A and I are Team Players 

Maria Chambers



            Rationale: This lesson will help students to learn how the letters A and I  work together as a team to make the /A/ sound.  It is important for children to recognize phonemes in spoken word contexts.  They will learn to recognize the ai= /A/ by learning a meaningful representation and they will practice spelling words with letterboxes and reading words from a book.
      Materials: Letterboxes, letters, picture page, James and the Good Day (published by Educational Insights) One copy per 2 students.
     Procedures:                                                                                                                                               1.  Today we are going to talk about how the ai work together as a team to say /A/.        
  Ask students:  Remember A says its name when there is an E at the end of a word.  Have you ever had a hard time hearing a question?  Well some people put their hand behind their ear and say A to get the question repeated.  This is how A and I sound when they work as a team.  Everyone try this gesture a few times.                         3.  Now we are going to try a tongue twister.  “Amy and April ate at the Aviation School.”  Everyone say this sentence with me.  Now I want everyone to say the sentence again and count how many times you hear the /A/ sound.  Everyone say the sentence one more time and stretch out the A in each word.  Aaaamy Aaaand Aaaaapril aaaate aaat the Aaaaviation School.  Pick the words that make the /A/ sound only.

            4.      Model new concept: Introduce letterbox lesson.  Everyone take out your letterboxes and letters because we are going to spell some words.  Remember that each box represents a separate mouth move and that when A and I work as a team they make one mouth move, so they go in the same box.  I will give an example to demonstrate how to use the letterboxes correctly.  First I will say the word gain out loud and I will break apart the sounds.   (G-ai-n)  I hear /A/ so I know that when A and I work together as a team that they say /A/.  The /ai/ is the vowel and I will put it in the middle letterbox.  Then I will say the word again (g-ai-n).  I hear the /g/ sound and I know that g says /g/ so I will put it in the first box.  I will blend /g/ with /ai/.  I will say the word again (g-ai-n).  I hear the /n/ sound and I know that n makes the /n/ sound so I will put n in the last box.  I now have the word gain spelled in my letterboxes. 

            5.      Practice letterboxes:  While the students are using their letterboxes, I will be walking around the room and observing students’ progress.  Everyone keep only 3 boxes out.  I want you to spell some words.  Everyone spell (jail, maid, & pain).  I will then model how to spell each word on the board to make sure that all the students understand how to spell the words correctly.  Now everyone open up 4 boxes.  I want you to spell (frail, waist, and claim).  I will then model how to spell these words on the board.  Now everyone open up 5 boxes, and I want you to spell ( sprain).  I will then model how to spell these words on the board. 

            6.      Read James and the Good Day:  Every student will read the book with a partner.  One student will read the whole book and then their partner will read the whole book.  This story is about a boy named James.  James is a boy and he loves to play with his tugboat.  He decides to play with his boat in the tub.  He fills up the tub and the water overflows.  I will ask the students to predict what James will do?. 

            7.      Assessment:  Each student will get a copy of a picture page.  They will circle the pictures that say /A/.  I will use rain, pail, tail, train, cake, and paint.  Put in other pictures of words that do not say /A/.


Book: Eldredge, J Lloyd, Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1995, p 52-53. 

Internet Site:  Barnes, Emily, A? I Cant Hear You,

Murray, B. A. & Lesniak, T. (1999).  “The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.”  The Reading Teacher, March 1999. P644-650.
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