The Baby Says AAAAAAAA
Emergent Literacy
Amanda Starnes

Rationale:  In order for a child to understand and be successful with phonics, spelling, and word recognition, they must understand that letters stand for phonemes.  A child must learn how to isolate phonemes before they can learn to read.  Vowels are the most difficult for the children to identify.  Since /a/ is an extremely common sound in the English alphabet, children need to learn to identify this sound in the early stages of reading.  This lesson will help children identify a=/a/.  This lesson will also help the children learn to write the letter a.  This will enhance their ability to use the /a/ correspondence in words.

Materials:
1. Chart paper and a marker to write the tongue twister written on it
2. Chalk for writing on the board
3. Writing paper and a pencil for each student
4. Picture of a crying baby for each student
5. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Sues
6. An assessment worksheet for each child in the class

Procedures:
1. Explain to your class that every word is made up of a variety of sounds, and some words can have the same sound.  If we learn to identify the different sounds in words, then we will be able to read and write.
2. Tell your class, “Today we are going to learn the short a=/a/ sounds.  Have you ever hear a baby cry?  When a baby cries he/she says aaaaaaa.  Everyone say it together.  Is your mouth open or closed?    You can also hear this sound in cat and hat.  Can everyone say the word cat and hat?”  Write the words on the board and have the children say them slowly: c-a-t and h-a-t.
3. Have the students read and repeat the tongue twister.  Make sure that you have the tongue twister written out on chart paper for them to read along.  Remind them to listen for /a/.  “Alice asked Adam if alligators like apples.”
4. We can use the letter a to spell /a/.  Take out a piece of paper and a pencil.  Let’s write it.  Start at the fence line and go left curving down to the sidewalk and stop.  Now, pick up your pencil and draw a straight line from the fence to the sidewalk.  Now you have the letter a.  Make ten more just like that one.  I will walk around and make sure that you are doing it correct.
5. Now give each child a picture of a crying baby.  Read a list of words and have the children hold their baby up when they hear a word with /a/ in it.  Read the following words to your students: cat, rake, coke, hat, apple, Alice, jam, pan, and dog.
6. Now give a short book talk on The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Sues.  Read the story all of the way through one time.  Then read it slowly.  Have the children raise their hand when they hear a word with /a/ in it.  Write the words that they hear on the board.  When you have all words on the board, have different students read the words.  Have them stretch out the words, ex: caaaaaaaat.
7. Pass out a sheet of paper with twenty objects on it.  Ten of the objects names will have /a/.  Have the students circle the pictures whose names have /a/.

References:
Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Prentice Hall,
 Inc, 1995.  Chapter 3:  Phonemic Awareness and the Alphabetic
 Principle, 23-34.
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