Rationale: In order for children to learn how to read and spell words, they need to develop a strong sense of phonemic awareness, as well as understanding that spellings map out phonemes in spoken words. Vowel sounds are the most important phonemes children can learn because they can be found in every written and spoken word. Without the knowledge of vowel sounds, written words cannot be properly decoded. This lesson will focus on the vowel correspondence a = /a/. Students will learn how to recognize the /a/ sound in spoken words, practice spelling the /a/ sound by using Elkonin letterboxes, and identifying and decoding the /a/ sound in written text.
Materials: Elkonin letterboxes for each child in the group; plastic letter tiles for each child consisting of the letters: c, a, t, n, p, sh, s, b, f, l, g, d, ck, h; chart with the phrase: "Adam had a bad alligator who snapped and whacked at every lad."; assessment cards with the pseudowords: grat, nad, zag, trab, stap; individual copies of the book Pat's Jam (Educational Insights); primary paper; chalk
1. Introduce the lesson by explaining the importance of learning the sounds that individual letters make, especially vowel sounds. Today we are going to work on learning about one of the most important sounds an "a" can make, /a/. We will use this information to learn how to read and spell words containing the /a/ sound.
2. Ask students: "Have any of you ever been around a baby? Good! Then you know that it is important to be quiet while it is sleeping, because if it wakes up you'll hear a very loud AAA!! Everyone make a crying baby sound for me. Great! This sound is very similar to the sound made by the letter "a", /a/!"
3. I am going to read this tongue twister and every time you hear a word with the /a/ sound, I want you to cry like a baby. "Adam had a bad alligator who snapped and whacked at every lad." Good!
4. Each child will now receive an Elkonin letterbox as well as the appropriate letter tiles. Say: "Now we are going to practice using our knowledge of the /a/ sound to spell words. Let's say I wanted to spell the word "fat". First I am going to open out three of my boxes because fat has three sounds, /f/ /a/ /t/. I am going to start with the first sound I hear in fat. F-F-F-at. I hear the /f/ sound. I will place the letter "f" in the first letterbox. The next sound I hear is the baby crying /a/ sound. I am going to place the letter "a" in the second letterbox, because it is the second sound I hear. Now I have fa-. To finish I need to find the last sound in the word fat. Fa-t-t-t. I hear the /t/ sound, which means I will place the letter "t" in the last letterbox. Each of you have your own letterboxes and I want you to try and spell some words using this same technique. We will first open out our letterboxes to only three boxes meaning that each word we spell contains three sounds." I will now ask the children to spell cat, nap, cash, had. Once they finish spelling each word, we will go around the group and I will ask every child to explain to the other members of the group how they spelled the particular word. We will continue on in this manner spelling 4 phoneme words such as: stab, flag, glad, and snack. Last, I will write each word one at a time on the board and call on students individually to read them out loud to the group.
5. Now we will work on reading word with the /a/ sound in the decodable text, Pat's Jam. Each child in the group will get an individual copy of this book. "I know that each of you can do an excellent job of reading this book because of all your knowledge about the /a/ sound. After you finish reading, I want you to write down at least three words you read containing the /a/ sound. Also, I may come around to you and ask you to whisper read to me, so I can hear you read the words in this book. Now let me tell you about this book. Pat is an ordinary rat. One day he goes to the store with his friend Pam in a van. When they go to leave the store, their van won't crank. We will have to read to find out what is wrong with the car and if it gets fixed·" After each child has finished, I will ask them to share the words that they found containing the /a/ sound. I will write them on the board and compile a list of all the /a/ words in this text.
6. For assessment I will pass out cards containing five pseudowords that contain the /a/ sound. I will ask the children to individually come to me and read them out loud, noting any miscues.
Murray, Bruce A., and Theresa Lesniak. (1999) "The Letterbox Lesson: A
hands-on approach for teaching decoding." The Reading Teacher, March 1999. pp. 644-650
(web page entitled The Baby's Crying . . . Aaa! By: Christen Walton)
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