&nb sp;                                                  Ay =/A/, You Say?
                                    ;                                          Katie Naylor

Rationale:  We know that a digraph is when two or more letters combine to make a single sound or mouth move.  It is essential for beginning readers to learn to read and spell words, and one way to teach children how to decode and spell words is by focusing on digraphs.  The digraph focused on in this lesson is ay, and the corresponding phoneme /A/.  The lesson will help children identify the ay =/A/ sound in written and spoken words.
Materials:  Elkonin letter boxes, letters of the alphabet, Ray and the Blue Jay (book), chalk or marker board and chalk or dry-erase markers, index cards to make Memory games, a marker for each child.
1.  Introduce the lesson by telling the class, "Today, we are going to look at some       words that contain the letters ay together, and we will learn that when those two letters are put together, they make the /A/ sound.  Can everyone make that sound with me?  /A/.  Very good!"
2. "Now, I'm going to make a tongue twister using words with the letters ay to make the /A/ sound, and, after I say it, I'll ask you to say it with me.  Then, we'll do it one more time, and you raise your hand when you hear words with the /A/ sound." "Kay and Jay went to play in the hay today."  "Now, say it with me.  (Repeat with class.)  Now, let's say it once more, and you raise your hand when you hear the /A/ sound.  (Repeat again.)  Great job!"
3. "Now, let's read and spell some words that have our ay letters making our /A/ sound.  I'm going to draw some boxes on the board, and I want you to get out your letters and letter boxes.  First, I'm going to spell some words on the board, and I want you to see if you can read the word.  Remember, I'm going to put one mouth move in each box, so our ay letters will be in the same box, because, together, they make the same mouth move, or sound, which is the /A/ sound.  (Put words in boxes drawn on the board, such as day, say, okay, play, stay, anyway. Have the children read the words aloud as you spell them.)  Now, I'm going to erase the words, and, as I call out a word, you spell it in your letter boxes on your desk as best you can.  We'll go over them together when you finish.  (Call out some of the words you spelled previously; then maybe add one or two simple new words to see if they put the ay digraph in for the /A/ sound.  Go over the words together when they finish.)  Great job!  Now, I'm going to write some of the words that we spelled on the board again, only this time, I'm not going to use letter boxes, and I want to see if you can read them.  (Have children read the words aloud that you write.)  Great job!
4. "I have a story to read to you now called Ray and the Blue Jay.  This story contains words with the ay letters to spell the /A/ sound.  During the story, when you hear a word that makes the /A/ sound, raise your hand."
5. For assessment, make several Memory games by writing the vocabulary words from the story on index cards (each word will be written on two cards for each game).  These words are listed in the book that was read.  Have the children split into small groups of about four, and give each group an identical game.  The index cards with vocabulary words will be face-down, and the person who goes first will pick up two cards and hope for a matching word.  If the words on the cards are the same, the child will take another turn, and keep going until no match is found, in which case the cards must be put exactly where they were, and it is another child's turn.  The children will keep all matches they get, and the object of the game is to acquire more matches than the other players.  (This game not only helps with seeing the ay = /A/ vocabulary words, but also with greater-than / less-than math skills, since they have to compare who has more matches than whom to determine a winner.)  "Class, we are going to play a game now called Memory.  I want you to split up in groups of four (if at all possible, allow children to choose their groups) and find a spot in the floor to sit.  I will give each group a game of Memory to play.  The Memory cards contain words from the story that use the ay letters to make the /A/ sound.  (Explain the rules of the game as shown above.)  When we finish the game, I will call on each student from the first group to come to the board and write one of the words that they got in one of their matches.  We will do this with each group.  If someone puts up a word from one of your matches, that's okay; just use a word from another one of your matches, or, if all of your words have already been written on the board, borrow a word from one of your teammates' matches that hasn't been written.  There are enough words for everyone to get to put up a different word on the board.  After we've finished, I will add those words to our word wall.  (Let the class play the game and write the words on the board.)  You all have done a really great job!  I think youâre all masters of the ay = /A/ sound now!"
References:  The Reading Genie Website (www.auburn.edu/rdggenie)
                       Murray, Bruce A. and Lensiak, T.  (1999).  The Letterbox Lesson:
                      A Hands on Approach for Teaching Decoding.
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