Emergent Literacy



Laura Hale

Rationale:  To be able to learn and spell words, children need to be aware that spoken words are composed of phonemes which represent the sounds of  the letters.  Word recognition occurs at a much faster pace if the students understand the relationship that exist between the sounds of spoken words and the letters in the written words.  Identifying short vowels is a difficult task.  In this lesson, students will learn to identify /a/ (short a)  in spoken words by learning a meaningful
representation and a letter symbol.  Students will also identify /a/ in written words.

Materials:  primary paper and pencil; poster with "Amanda already asked Allie for apples"; drawing paper and markers; dry erase board with marker;  picture page with bag, hat, purse, apple,  bathtub, cat, bat, dog, map.                                           

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the students that our written language is a secret code. "You can learn the by learning what the letters stand for and what moves the mouth makes as you say words.  Today we are going to look at how our mouth moves when we say /a/ (short a).  At first, /a/ will seem hidden in words, but as you get more familiar with it, you will be able to spot /a/ in all kinds of spoken and written words."

2.  Ask students: "Has anyone ever come up behind you and scared you really bad and cause you to scream /a/?  That is the mouth move we are looking for in words.  Let's all pretend that someone just came up behind you and scared you.  As you say /a/ put your hand on your cheeks.  Let me hear how bad that person scared you by making the /a/ sound."

3.  "Let's try a tongue twister (on poster).  "Amanda already asked Allie for apples."  Let's all say it three times together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words. Aaamanda  aaalready aaasked  AAallie for aaapples.  Try it again and this time break the /a/ off the word:  /a/ manda /a/ ready /a/ sked /a/ llie for /a/ pples."

4.  (Have students take out primary paper and pencil).  "We can use letter a to spell /a/.  Let's write it together. (demonstrate on dry erase board)  Don't start at the fence.  Start under the fence, Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down. I want to see everyone's a.  After I put a check on your paper, I want you to make nine more a's just like the first one.  When you see letter a all by itself in a word, thatās the signal to say /a/."

5.  "Let me show you how to identify /a/ in spoken words.  As I read the words, I want you to tell me  which word has /a/ in it.  Let's do one together first.   Do you hear /a/ in dog or hat? Let's stretch the words out to see if that helps. doooooog or haaaaaat?  Call on students to answer.  Do you hear /a/ in sat or pit?  apple or orange?  rat or rot?  cub or bag? Say: "Let's see if you can spit the mouth move /a/ in some words.  Put your hand on your face like you are scared if you hear /a/.  Mask, job, crab, bag, snack, hot, pack, trash." (Note: job and hot do not say /a/).

6.  Read the book Cat Nap.  Have the students listen carefully and whenever they here /a/, have them put their hands on their cheeks as if they were scared. Whenever they hear /a/, write those words on the board.  Go over them at the end to make sure they are correct.  (Pass out paper and markers) Have each student draw a cat and write a message about it using invented spelling.  Display work in classroom.

7.  For assessment, I will give the students a worksheet that contains pictures that describe items that make the /a/ sound.  They will circle the ones they think make the /a/ sound.


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

Eldredge, J.Lloyd. (2nd Ed.) Teach Decoding: Why and How. Upper Saddle River, Pearson Prentice Hall. p23.

Laura Earl, "Abby's Alligator",

Mareena Kohtala, "I've Got a Bad Taste in my Mouth!...Aaa!"


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