Rationale: To learn to read and spell words, children need the alphabetic insight that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words. Before children can match letters to phonemes, they have to recognize phonemes. Of all the phonemes, short vowels are probably toughest to identify. This lesson will help children identify /a/ (short a), one of the short vowels. They will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding /a/ in words.
Materials: a sentence strip with "Allie the Alligator sat on a mat eating apples." written on it; a box with a bat, hat, sock, jacket, picture of a cat, crayon, pear, rat stuffed animal, and an apple; two poster boards with an apple tree on each; 5 apples Velcroed on each tree; two small baskets; Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss; primary paper and pencils.
Procedures: 1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that words are made up of individual sounds. When we speak we say many different sounds. Each word has a different combination of sounds. Today we are going to learn about the very first letter in the alphabet. Who knows what letter that is? (children respond) Right, the first letter is "a".
2. Ask students: Have you ever heard a baby cry? A baby cries like /a/? This is the sound that a short "a" makes. Let us all pretend to be babies and cray like /a/.
3. Everyone please get out your primary paper and a pencil. An "a" is made by writing a "c" and adding a line. Place your pencil half way between the sidewalk and fence. Draw up to the fence, around to the sidewalk, and curve back up to where you started. Without picking up your pencil draw straight back down to the sidewalk. Everyone practice making an "a" on your paper. Raise your hand after making one "a". I will go around and place a star by your "a" if it is correct. After you receive a star continue writing six more "a"s.
4. I have a box of different items in it. When I pull out an item I will say the name of the item. If you hear an /a/ sound in it I want you to cry like a baby and say /a/. If you do not hear an /a/ sound than I want you to be real quiet.
5. Read Cat in the Hat. Reread different parts of the book with a lot of /a/ words in it. For each word that they hear with /a/ in it write it on the board. Who remembers what rhyming words are? Does sat rhyme with mat or rock? Why? Write a class couplet using some of the different rhyming /a/ words from the book. A couplet is a form of poetry with two lines that rhyme. It is important to have similar number of beats in both lines. Clap out the beats in the first line and then write the second line with the same number of beats.
6. For assessment, divide the class into two teams. On the chalkboard prop up both of the trees full of apples. Place the two baskets beside each apple tree. Each time a team member answers a question correctly than the team gets to pick an apple off of the tree and put it in their basket. Whoever picks all of the apples first wins. Do you hear /a/ in bat or frog? chalk or book? apple or orange? sat or sleep? mat or rug? flower or gap? alligator or turkey?
Reference: Mary P. Cobb, 1st grade teacher. Obenville Elementary School, Obenville, AL 1997. Emalyn O'Barr, 3rd grade teacher, Leeds Elementary School, Leads, AL, 1998.
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