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Abigail Ant

Katheryn Frey
Beginning Reading


Students need to understand that spellings are a map of a series of phonemes that represent spoken words. In this lesson we focus on learning the correspondence a=/a/. We will do this by associating /a/ with a meaningful representation, recognizing it in spoken words, practicing spelling words with /a/ in them with a letterbox lesson, and picking out /a/ in words in a book.


Elkonin letter boxes (1 set per student)
primary paper
poster board with “Abigail ant acts absolutely angry after eating apples.”
set of letter tiles for each student (a e c t l p r d g h s n b)
index card with the letter a written on it
list of words for teacher reference: cat,  pal, red, rag, chat, snag, glad, sled, crab, plan
dry erase board, markers
The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat by Nurit Karlin
Worksheet- should consist of pairs of pictures, one containing /a/ and one not. (cat/dog, jam/bed, pan/bug, etc.) Students  should first circle the one that has /a/ in it, then write the words that goes with the picture in a space provided. Invented spellings are OK as long as each phoneme is represented.


1. Today we’re going to be learning about the letter a and how it represents /a/. To read, we have to learn which letters go with which mouth movements. Here is a card with the letter a. The letter a makes the /a/ sound. What does your mouth do when you say /a/? Let’s see. /a/. Do you see how my jaw dropped and my mouth was open. Now you try.

2. Ask students: Have you ever been really scared by something? What noise do you make when you get scared? I’ll tell you what I say when I see a spider: aaaa! Pretend like you see something scary and say it with me, /a/! That’s the mouth move we’ll be learning about today. That is the sound that the letter a on this card here sometimes represents.

3. Lets try a tongue twister with /a/ in it (on the poster board). I’ll say it first (pointing to each word as it is said). “Abigail ant acts atrociously after eating apples.” Now let’s read it slowly together. Listen for the /a/ sound as we say it! Great job! Now I’m going to say it and clap my hands every time I hear /a/. Now you guys say it together and clap every time you say /a/.

 4. [Have the students get out their primary writing paper and a pencil.] Let’s review writing the letter a. Everyone watch me! Start under the fence. Go up and touch the fence, then around and tough the sidewalk, around and straight down. Now you try. Once you’ve finished let me see it and put a sticker on it.

5. [Have the students get out their letterboxes and letter tiles.] Now let’s practice spelling words with /a/ in them! First, I will spell a word. My word is “mat”. Hmm, well I hear three sounds there : /m/ /a/ /t/. So I am going to use three boxes, one for each sound. First I hear /m/- oh! I know that m makes that sound, so m goes in the first box. Next I hear /a/.  Hey, that’s the sound we were just talking about! The sound you make when you’re scared! Okay, so a in the middle box. Lastly I hear /t/- I know that t says /t/ so I will put t in the last box! Now it’s your turn! We will start with three boxes. [Read from the word list: cat, pal, red, rag, chat. Have the students spell these words, checking to see that each student has spelled the word correctly before moving to the next.] Okay now let’s use four boxes! [snag, glad, sled, crab, plan]

6. All right, now I am going to spell words for you and you can just read them to me. Watch me. [Write the word cat on the dry-erase board] /k/ /a/ /t/, oh cat! Now you will try. [Spell the words one by one on the dry-erase board and have the students read them.]

7. Now we’re going to read a book about a cat and a rat that live together! Can you imagine a cat and a rat living in the same house? Do you think that might cause some problems? Let’s read and find out! [Give each student a copy of The Fat Cat Sat on the M at. Have the students take turns reading portions of the book.] Okay, now I am going to read this book aloud to you and I want you to follow along and clap every time I read a word with /a/ in it! [Read aloud and have the students read along and clap.]

 8. Assessment: Hand out the worksheet. Have the students complete it and turn it in. Then have each student come to you and individually read the list of words you used earlier.


Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. 1990. p. 36.

Karlin, Nurit. The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat. Harper Collins Publishers, 1996.

Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website – “The Letterbox Lesson”


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