Emergent Literacy Design

The Baby is Crying

Becky Short




Children have to understand that letters map out phonemes and those combined letters map out words.  Short vowels are the hardest for beginners to grasp.  In this lesson, the students will learn that /a/ can be represented in spoken and written words.  The will have the opportunity to sound out /a/ by repeating tongue twisters, raising their hands when /a/ is heard in a story, recognizing pictures that have the phoneme /a/ in them, and by practicing writing the letter a that represents the phoneme /a/.



You will need chart paper with the tongue twister ö A sad lad pats a cat while the cat naps. Primary paper and pencil for each student.  A picture page of a rat, boat, bat, sun, cap, and flower for each student.  A copy of A Cat Nap (Educational Insights) for each student.



  1. Explain that letters stand for the sounds and mouth moves made when we speak.  Say: Today we will practice recognizing the mouth move /a/.
  2. Ask: Have you ever heard a baby cry and make the sound /a/?  Can you say /a/ with me?  Letās stretch it out /aaaaaaaa/.
  3. Say:  A sad lad pats a cat while the cat naps (Point to the words, written on chart paper, as you read every time you read it).  Letās all say it three times together. Now letās say it again, this time stretching out the /a/ sound.
  4. Say: Take out your primary paper and pencil.  Explain that the letter a represents the sound /a/.  To write a, letās think of it this way.  Start right below the fence.  Curve up to the fence.  Hop along the fence and quickly curve down to the sidewalk.  Curve back up a little after you hop on the sidewalk.  Close the space by starting at the fence and drawing a straight line all the way down to the sidewalk.
  5. Ask the students if they hear /a/ in cat or cape? Nap or ape? Late or tap?...Then ask the students to raise their hands when they hear /a/ in the tongue twister from earlier ö A sad lad pats a cat while the cat naps.
  6. Read A Cat Nap (Educational Insights).  Reread and have students clap when they hear /a/.  List those words on chart paper.
  7. Have each student write a message about their own cat or about a cat they have seen.
  8. To assess, hand out a page with pictures and ask the students to circle the pictures with the sound /a/ in them.



A Cat Nap. Educational Insights: Carson, CA. 1990.

Ludlum, Anna.  Donāt Make That Baby Cry


Click here to return to Guidelines