Cats, Cats
Beginning Reading Design
Lindsay Bailey

Rationale: In order for children to actually understand what they are reading, they must be able to read words with ease. They must understand the relationship between phonemes and the letters that represent them. This will lead them to become fluent readers. This lesson will introduce children to the correspondence a=/a/. They will learn to read words with the a=/a/ correspondence in them.

Materials: copy of the book Cat's Colors by Jane Cabera for each child, Elkonin letterboxes for each child, plastic letters b,a,t,d,c,p,m,r,p,g for her child, primary paper, pencils, worksheet numbered 1-5 with corresponding letterboxes for number of phonemes in word (#1-3 boxes, #2-3 boxes, #3-3 boxes, #4-4 boxes, #5-4 boxes) for each child

1. I will first introduce the lesson by explaining that each letter makes a different and unique sound. "In order to read words, we must be able to know what sound each letter makes. The letter a makes the sound /a/."
2. "I am going to show you how to pick out the sound /a/ in a word. You take a word and stretch it out. As you stretch it out, check to see if you say /a/. For example, I will stretch out the word cat. C-ca-a-a-at-t. C-c-a-a. There I said it! Did you hear it?"
3. I have come up with a tongue twister to help you remember the /a/ sound. I am going to write it on the board. I will say it first, then you can say it with me. "Allie had apples and cats!" Now did everyone say it with me? Did you hear /a/ in any of those words? I sure did!"
4. "Okay, now that we have learned how to hear the /a/ in words. Let's practice some! I will say some words and I want you to listen to see which ones you hear /a/ in. Do you hear /a/ in dog or cat? Bat or bird? Trick or trap? Act or not?"
5. I will have students get out their primary paper and pencils. "Since the letter a makes the /a/ sound, we need to practice writing the letter a so we can write words with the /a/ sound in them. I want you to start by putting your pencil right below the window. Begin curving up until you touch the window. Then continue the curve down towards the floor and back up towards the window. To finish the letter, draw a line straight down from the window to the floor. When you have made the letter a, raise your hand so that I can come see it." Once I have seen the student's letters, I will have them continuing practicing on the rest of the line. "When you see the letter a all by itself in a word, this means you say /a/."
6. We will now take out our letterboxes and letters and I will explain to the class how to use them to spell words. "We are going to use our letterboxes to help us spell words with /a/ in them. I am going to do the first one for you. I am going to spell the word cat. I am going to stretch it out to hear each sound. C-c-ca-a-a-at-t. You may want to say the words to yourself a few times. The first sound I hear in the word cat is /c/, so I will put the letter c in the first box. Next I hear the /a/, the sound we have been talking about today. I will put the letter a in the second box. The last sound I hear is /t/, so I will put the letter t in the last box. Now I have some words for you to try on your own. Remember to only put one sound in each box and to use the stretching out strategy we have been learning to spell the words." I will have the students spell the following words in their boxes: bat, dad, cap, mat-all 3 phoneme words, trap and drag-both 4 phoneme words. I will tell the students how many boxes they need to use for each group of words. "See if you can spell these words the same way we did cat. When you are finished, raise your hand and I will come check your spellings."
7. I will pass out copies of Cat's Colors by Jane Cabera to the children. I will introduce the book to the children by telling them that the cat in the story is trying to help us figure out his favorite color by giving us hints. "Let's read and see if we can figure it out!" Have students read text on their own. After we finish reading, I will have the students recall words in the story that had /a/ in them and write them on the board.

Assessment: For assessment I will pass out a worksheet numbered 1-5. Each number will have the correct number of letterboxes for the word being spelled for that number. (#1-3 boxes, #2-3  boxes, #3-3 boxes, #4-4 boxes, #5-4 boxes) "I am going to read out a word for each number. Using your letterboxes, I want you to spell the words. (1. cab, 2. bad, 3. map, 4. grab, 5. slap)" After everyone is finished, I will collect the papers for assessment.

· Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: a hand's on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 644-650.
· Reading Genie Website:  Jenn Kanute-"Icky Sticky"

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