AAAAAAAA! Home Alone!

Emergent Literacy Design

Shannon Ritter



Rationale: In order for children to learn to read and write words they must have phoneme awareness. Phoneme awareness is the ability to recognize phonemes in the spoken language. Recognizing vowels in language poses as one of the most difficult phonemes for children to identify. This lesson will help students to identify a = /a/ (short a). The goals of this lesson are to help students to recognize /a/ in spoken words through a letter symbol and meaningful representation, and practice finding /a/ in words.

Materials: Primary paper and a pencil; poster with tongue twister "Adam sat with Allie at Applebee’s", cards with pictures on them, cards with smiles on one side and frowns on the other, drawing paper and crayons, picture worksheet with pictures of cat, bug jam van, book, mat, meat, dog, pan, mud, cab, and the book Pat’s Jam.


  1. Introduce the lesson by giving an explanation to the students that they will be learning how to recognize the vowel sound /a/ in written and spoken language. "Today we will be working with the vowel sound /a/ and we will be finding it in different words. I know at first this may seem tricky, but once we practice the /a/ sound it will get easier."
  2. Ask students--- "Have you ever seen the movie Home Alone? Kevin gets left at home and screams, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" with his hands on his cheeks. If you have never seen the movie, that’s okay, you may have been scared before and screamed "AAAAAAAA!" too. That sound in the scream is the sound we will be looking for today. Good now lets use that sound in a word. Let’s stretch out the word cat. I’ll show you, caaaaaaaat. Did you hear it? C-aaaaaaaaaa-t. That is the Home Alone noise, /a/.
  3. Now let’s look at the poster. Adam sat with Allie at Applebee’s. Lets all say it together. Now let’s stretch out the /a/ sound in the words. "Aaaaadam saaaaaaaat with Aaaaaallie aaaaaaaat Aaaaaaaaaaaaplebee’s." Great job.
  4. (Ask students to get out primary paper and a pencil). We can use the letter a to spell /a/. Let’s write it. Start a little below the fence line. Curve to the left coming up to the fence line and back down around like the letter "c". Lift your pencil and come back  to close up the "c" by drawing a straight line from the fence line to the sidewalk. Hold up your “a” when you are done and I will come around and check it. After I put a smiley face on the top of your paper I want you to make nine more just like it. Now we know that when we see this letter written alone we know to make the Home Alone scream sound /a/.
  5. Call on students to answer and tell how they know: "Do you hear /a/ in cat or bug?"(Pass out smile/frown cards to each student). Say: "Let’s see if you can hear the /a/ sound in these pictures. Show me the smiley face if you do and the frown if you do not. For example: Do you hear the /a/ in cat or bug?" (Give students time to look at the pictures and have time to answer using their cards.)
  6. Read Pat’s Jam and discuss the story with the children. Read it again, and have students put their hands on their cheeks like the Home Alone scream when they hear the /a/ in words. Write the /a/ words on the board and have students draw a picture of their favorite character in the story. The have students write about a "jam" or "problem" they have gotten into before using invented spelling. Let a few children share their stories and illustrations with the classroom. Display all of the students work.
  7. Assessment: Pass out a picture worksheet and name each picture with the students. Have the students circle the pictures with the /a/ sound in it. Review the pictures with the students.


 J Lloyd Eldredge (1995) Teaching Decoding in Holisitic Classrooms. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: (Merrill. 52-61)

Cushman, Shelia. Pat’s Jam. Educational Insight, 1990.

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