Don't Make that Baby Cry

crying baby
By: Anna Ludlum

Emergent Literacy

Rationale: Children need to understand phonemes in order to be successful with phonics, spelling, word recognition and of course reading. Student's need to be able to segment spoken words into their separate phonemes.  The ability to segment individual phonemes in words correlates highly with reading achievement. Short vowels are often very difficult for children to grasp because there are differences in sound and often times the movements made by the mouth are very difficult for students to distinguish between.  This lesson will help students identify /a/ (short a).  The students will become more familiar with /a/ by learning how to make the letter symbol and gaining a helpful representation of the letter.  Also, the students will practice finding /a/ in words.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; Board with " Alley the alligator is an American astronaut"; a set of cards for the class with an a on one side and a frowning face on the other side; drawing paper and crayons; picture page with illustrations of apple, cat, bug, bag, pass, mug, cast, back, map, mad, pig, and mask.  A Cat NapCarson, CA: Educational Insights, 1990.

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the children that writing is something that must be figured out like a puzzle.  In order to figure out this puzzle, the mouth moves we make as we say words and knowing what letters stand for must first be learned.  Today we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /a/. At first /a/ may seem hidden in words, but as you get to know it, you'll be able to spot /a/ in all words.

2. "How many of you have a baby brother or sister? Can you tell us what he or she does when he/she wants something? That's right they cry! I know we have all heard a baby cry. It sounds like Aaaaa! Now let me hear you. Stretch it out and see if you say, /a/, like a crying baby. I'll try bag  b-a-a-a-a-a  g. There I said the crying baby sound."

3. Now let’s try saying the tongue twister on this chart.  Repeat after me.  "Alley the alligator is an American astronaut."  Now let's say it and stretch out the /a/.  "Aaalley the aaaaligator is aaan Aaamerican aaastronaut."

4. "We can use letter a to spell /a/. Let's write it down. Please get out your primary paper and pencil.  First you start at the rooftop, go down the slide to the sidewalk, then down the slide the other way, and cross at the fence. For lowercase a, don't start at the fence. Start under the fence. Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down. I want to see everybody's a. After I put a heart by your paper, I want you to make a row of a's just like you have done. When you see letter a all by itself in a word, that's the signal to say /a/."

5. I will randomly call on students to answer and tell how they knew: In which word do you hear /a/?  CAT OR DOG?  First or last?  BAG OR PURSEGOOD OR BAD?  I will pass out a card with /a/ on it to each student.  Then, I will have the students see if they can recognize the /a/ mouth movement in some words.  If you hear the /a/ sound, hold up the card so that the side with the  A on it is facing me.  If you don't hear the /a/, hold up the side with the frowning face. One word at a time, I will read the tongue twister: Adam, asked, Anna, for, an, apple.

6.  Introduce a Cat's Nap through a book talk. "Tab is a cat and Sam is a man. To find out all of the things they do, let's read the book." Have each child listen carefully to the story and give a thumbs up when they hear /a/ in a word.

7.  Finally, to evaluate how much the children have gained from the lesson, I will pass out the page with the illustrations on it.  We will go over them together so that they are aware of what each picture represents.  Then, I will encourage them to circle all of the pictures that they hear /a/.

Nancy Williams, Aaah!·. The Baby is Crying at:
Amanda Starnes, The Baby Says AAAAAAAA at
Cushman. Cat Nap. Education Insights,
Carson, 1990.

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