The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Emergent Literacy Design 

Leslie Rosebrough


Rationale: Phonemes are difficult for children to identify, especially short vowels.  Children cannot begin to match letters to phonemes until they can recognize phonemes in spoken words.  This lesson will help children identify /a/  (short a).  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. 




     - Primary paper

     - Pencil

     - white paper

     -Picture page with pictures of ant, bee, cat, dog, bat, hat, umbrella, black, pink, tack,  ruler,  apple, orange, alligator, fish, jacket, sock

-chart paper with tongue twister




-5 3x3 circle patterns

-green, red & yellow construction paper


      - glue



  1. Introduce lesson on short /a/.  "In order to read, we have to be able to recognize letters and know their sounds which can be very tricky. But I have no question in my mind that you guys can do it. Are you ready for the challenge?"

"Today, we are going to learn about the letter a.  You probably haven’t noticed what a common letter a is, but after today, you will begin to notice the letter a all over the place in all kinds of words!"


  1. "Have you ever seen a caterpillar?  A caterpillar loves to eat apples.  Now, I want everyone to say that after me, 'A caterpillar loves to eat apples.' What sound do you hear in caterpillar and apples? Can you imagine a caterpillar being really hungry and wanting to take a big bite of his apple?  Let’s pretend we are caterpillars and are about to take a big bite of a fat, juicy red apple. (I will demonstrate the sound.)  Now everybody, lets take three big bites."


  1. "Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart).Point to words when saying it: "Ann Anteater took Andy Alligator’s apples, so angry Andy Alligator took Ann Anteater’s ants.


  1. Now, I want everyone to say it three times slow together.  Alright, now let’s try to say it three times together fast.  Now, I want us to say it slow again, stretching out the /a/ at the beginning of the words.  "Aaann Aaanteater took Aaandy Aaalligator’s aaaples, so aaangry Aaandy Aaalligator took Aaann Aaanteater’s aaants."  Now, try it again breaking off the /a/ from the rest of the word: “ /a/ nn  /a/  nteater  took /a/ ndy /a/ lligator’s /a/ pples, so /a / ngry  /a/ ndy /a/ lligator took /a/ nn  /a/ nteater’s  /a/ nts."


  1. Have students take out primary paper and pencil.  We can use the letter a to spell /a/.  Let’s write it.  For a 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.  Now, I want you to make nine more just like that.  Have them put their pencil down when finished.


  1. "Now I am going to say a few words and I want you to raise your hand and tell me the answer and how you know:  Glass or cup?   Ant or bee?  Cat or cut?  Tell or tail?  Now, as a class, I want you guys to brainstorm and come up with a list of words with the /a/ sound.  (Write list on board).  Everyone get out your crayons. (Pass out paper). On this paper, I want you to draw a picture of something that will help you remember the /a/ sound.  You may draw a picture of a word on this list. After you draw your picture, write the name of it underneath and underline the a.   Do your best because we are going to hang these up in the classroom."


  1. Read A Cat Nap.  Have students raise their hands when they here a word with the /a/ sound.  “How are we going to remember the /a/ sound?  Remember the hungry caterpillar about to take a big bite.” (Make sound three times.)

Pass out construction paper and patterns.  Have them get out scissors and crayons.  Show them model caterpillar with mouth open.  Have them trace three circles on green and one on red.  Glue circles together like a chain.  Cut sideways v in middle of face to look like open mouth.  May use yellow construction paper for eyes or draw them in.  Boys write Andy on their caterpillar, girls write Ann.



Pass out the picture page.  Have them use their /a/ caterpillar to determine which words has the /a/ sound.  Circle the correct pictures whose names have short /a/.



Internet website:

Cushman, Sheila.  A Cat Nap.  Carson, CA: Educational Insights. 1990.

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