Waaa… Abby is Unhappy

Emergent Literacy Design

Megan Schmidt



Children must understand that letters stand for phonemes in spoken words when learning to read and spell words.  They must understand that spelling map out the phoneme sequence in spoken words.  A child's ability to recognize phonemes is an indicator of their reading achievement.  This lesson will help students identify the a=/a/ correspondence.  Students will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words and will be able to identify the letter a in written words.


Primary paper and pencils

Red and blue cards

"A Cat Nap", Carson, CA: Educational Insights, 1990.

Worksheets with pictures of a cat, dog, car, truck, can, bottle, rat, spider, van, and bike on it.


  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that we are going to learn about the letter a today.  Explain that the letter a makes the /a/ sound in many words.  "Today we are going to practice finding words with /a/ in them."
  2. Ask students "What sound does a baby make when they cry?  Waaa.  The /a/ in waaa is the sound we are going to look for today."
  3. "We are going to try a tongue twister with /a/ in it.  Find the words that you hear /a/ in.  Repeat after me, Abby asked for apples in the alley with the alligator.  Now lets stretch out the /a/ sound.  Aaabby aaasked for aaapples in the aaalley.  Good job!"
  4. Have the students get out primary paper and a pencil.  Explain that you can write the letter a to spell /a/.  Model how you write the letter a on the board as you explain it to the class.  "To write the letter a, start just below the fence, go up to touch the fence and loop back down to the sidewalk.  After touching the sidewalk curve back up so that you made a circle, and then make a line straight down until you hit the sidewalk.  After writing this a write 5 more on the line."
  5. "We are going to listen for /a/ in words that I say."  Pass out red cards and blue cards.  "When I say a word and you hear /a/ hold up the red card.  If you don't hear /a/ then hold up the blue card."  Use the words cat, ham, get, can, fish, nap, rat, bet, has, and hot.
  6. Read "A Cat Nap".  Tell the students to hold up their red card every time a word with /a/ is read.
  7. To assess the children hand out a worksheet of different pictures.  Have the children circle the pictures that have /a/ in their name.



 Eldridge, J. Lloyd (1995).  "Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms."  New Jersey: Merrill, 1995, pp.50-70.

 "A Cat Nap".  Carson, CA: Educational Insights, 1990.

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