Emergent Literacy Design: And a Baby Cries
Ellie Austin

Rationale: In order for children to learn to read and write they must have phonemic awareness. This is the ability to recognize phonemes in the spoken language. Vowels are very important for the student to learn in order to read words more accurately. As students learn the vowel correspondences, they will become equipped with the decoding knowledge to work with longer words. Also, as they accomplish these goals they can begin to create meaning and make written communication possible. This lesson will help students identify a = /a/ (short a). The goals of this lesson are to help the students learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words through a letter symbol and meaningful modeling, and then they will practice finding /a/ in words.

 Materials: Primary paper and pencil; poster with tongue twister on it; cards with pictures on them; Cards with thumbs up on one side and thumbs down on the other side; drawing paper and crayons; picture worksheets with pictures of  bat, bug, cap, drum, stamp, van, book, axe, bath, mat, meat, pan, cab. Pat's Jam.

Procedures:
1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the children that they are going to learn how to recognize the vowel sound /a/ in written and spoken language. "Today we are going to work on making the vowel /a/ sound and finding it in words. This may seem hard at first, but once we practice some it will become easier to spot the /a/ in all kinds of words."

2. Ask students: Have you ever heard a baby cry? That's the sound we will be looking for today. Can you all make the crying sound, "aaa aaa". Good now lets use it in a word. We will stretch out the word rat. Let me show you, rrra-a-a-at. Did you here it? Raaa...aa. That is the baby crying sound, /a/.

3. Now let's look at the tongue twister on the poster. "Adam said an apple a day makes us not afraid." Everyone say it together. Now let's try stretching out the /a/ sound at the beginning of each word. "Aaaadam said aaaan aaapple a day makes us not aaafraid." Good job.

4. (Have the students get out some primary paper and pencil). Now let's put the letter with the sound /a/. We use the letter "a" to spell /a/. Let's practice writing it. Start a little below the fence line. Curve to the left coming up to the fence line and back down around like the letter "c". Lift your pencil and come back to the close up the "c" by drawing a straight line from the fence line to the sidewalk. Hold up your "a" when you are done and I will come around and check it. Then you can continue making your "a" across the rest of the page. Now we know that when we see this letter written alone we know to make the baby crying sound /a/.

5. Allow students to explain how they knew the right answer: Hold up two pictures and ask the student if they hear the /a/ sound in the picture of a cat or dog. (Pass out the thumbs up/down cards to each student.) Say: Let's see if you can hear the /a/ sound in these pictures. Show me the thumbs up if you hear /a/ and the thumbs down if you do not. Example: Do you hear the /a/ sound in "cat" or "dog" (Ask while holding up the picture and give the students time to answer after each word in the comparison group).

6. Read Pat's Jam and talk about the story. Then read it one more time and have the students raise their thumbs up card when they hear words with the /a/ sound. List the words on the board. Then allow the students to draw Pat and write a new short ending to the story read earlier using invented spelling. Let a few children share their new ending and display the rest of the work.

7. Assessment: Distribute a picture worksheet and name the pictures with the students. Tell them to circle the pictures that have the /a/ sound in it. Lastly, ask the students to look around the room and find things that have the /a/ sound in the name. Write these on the board. (Note which children are still having problems identifying the /a/ sound)

Reference:
J. Lloyd Eldredge (1995). Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill. 52-61.

Cushman, Shelia. Pat's Jam. Educational Insight, 1990.

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