Rationale: When children are learning to read, it is very important they learn to recognize phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest units of sound. Recognizing phonemes helps children to connect letters and phonemes, seeing that letters stand for phonemes. Short vowels are very hard for children to learn because the mouth shape and sound are different. This lesson will help a child identify the phoneme /a/ (short a). A child will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and they will practice finding /a/ in words.
Materials: primary paper, pencil, chart with "Adam asked for a cat, an alligator, and a piece of apple pie" written on it, drawing paper and crayon, picture page (drawn by teacher) with bat, cab, ham, hand, bag, dog, ax, rat, pen, frog, pig, the book A Cat Nap (Educational Insights), class set of cards with a on one side and ? on the other.
1. Introduce the lesson by explaining there is a secret code in writing. Learning what letters stand for is the tricky part-as the mouth moves, we make sounds as we say words. Today we are going to focus on the mouth move /a/. When we first begin, it may seem /a/ is hidden in words, but as we continue you will be able to find /a/ in many words.
2. Ask students: Have you ever hit you head and started crying? You say /a/ when you cry. That sound is the sound we are looking for in words. Now pretend you have really hit you head hard and are really crying, stretch it out /a/. I'll pretend I have been hit by a bat, bba-a-a-at. There I cried the /a/ sound, when I said bat.
3. Now, let's try a tongue twister (on chart). "Adam asked for a cat, a alligator, and a piece of apple pie." Everybody say it together. Let's try to say it three times fast. Now say it again, and this time stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words. " Aaadam aaasked for a cat, a aaaligator, and a piece of aaapple pie." Try it again, and this time let's break /a/ off each word: "/a/ dam /a/ sked for a cat, a /a/ lligator, and a piece of /a/ pple pie." Great Job.
4. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil). We can use the letter a to spell /a/. Let's write it. Start just below the fence, curve up until you touch the fence, go towards the left and draw a curve down to the sidewalk, curve over, and back up to where you started on the fence, without lifting your pencil, draw straight down to the sidewalk. (Model each instruction given). I want to see everybody's a. After I put a sticker on it, I want you to make seven more just like it. When you see "a" all by itself in a word, that's the signal to say /a/.
5. Ask the students these questions and call on them to answer and tell how they knew the answer. Do you hear /a/ in cat or dog? Cab or car? Bad or fear? Rag or clothe? Ham or turkey? Hand or foot? (Pass out a/? card to each student). Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words. Show me "a" if you hear /a/ and ? if you don't. (Give words one by one). Last, stand, fan, big, apple, band, paper, phone, dig, capital, nag, at, game
6. Read A Cat's Nap and talk about the story. Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /a/. List their words on the board. Then have each student draw an apple and write a message about it using invented spelling. Display their work.
7. For assessment, give each student a picture page and help students name each picture. Have each student circle the pictures whose name have /a/.
Eldredge, J. Lloyd, Developing Phonemic Awareness. Teach Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1995. Pages 50-70.
Reading Genie Website: http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie (Elucidations-lessons designs from Spring 2002).
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