I ate GRAPE cake!
Beginning Reading
Meredith Mosley



In order for children to become fluent readers, they must develop the necessary skills that enable them to decode words successfully.  Students must learn how to determine to distinguish between long and short vowels.  It is important for them to understand that the same letter can make more than one sound!  In addition, it is important that they understand that correspondences can be spelled and pronounced differently.  This lesson will review a=/a/ and introduce a_e=/A/ using instruction, worksheets, decodable books, and pseudo-words.


Elkonin Letter boxes (one set per student) 

Set of letters (each in a Ziploc baggie) per student - a,t,e,i,c,n,f,m,b,h,r,v,u,s,g,p,l,d

Large Elkonin Letter boxes for teacher (made out of felt)

Large felt board

Large set of felt letters - a,t,e,i,c,n,f,m,b,h,r,v,u,s,g,p,l,d

Jane and Babe (decodable text, one per child)

Primary paper


Poster with the tongue twister:  “Kate baked a grape cake!”

Worksheet (requiring the matching of printed words to pictures) using the words: cake, gate, cat, wave, hat, grape, crab, grass

Note cards with the following pseudo-words: HAP, PATE, WAT, NAPE, TAT, and JAVE

Dry erase board

2 different colored dry erase markers


1)  First go over the a = /a/ as a review; I will then introduce the a_e = /A/.  “Friends, we already know that when we say a alone in a word, it makes the /a/ sound (a = /a/).  Today we are going to learn something very special about letter a!  It can make more than just an /a/ sound!    When there is an a then a consonant, then the letter e, a makes a different, special sound!  The a_e makes the a say its name! (write a_e = /A/).”  Explain to the students that the e is silent, but it helps the a say its name.  Write the word plan on the board.  “Friends, what does this word say?  /p/-/l/-/a/-/n/, plan!  That’s correct!  But, what if I add an e to the end of this word? (Place an e at the end of the word in a different color).  What does this word say now?  /p/-/l/-/A/-/n/, plane!  That’s right!  Great!  The silent e makes the a say its name!  Let me model another one for you.  (Write the word can on the board.  /c/-/a/-/n/, can!  Now, I am going to add an e to the end.  /c/-/A/-/n/, cane!  Does everyone understand?  We would practice with two more words, at/ate and mad/made.

 2)  Now do the tongue twister.  “I have a fabulous tongue twister for you!  Listen to me say the tongue twister the first time, and then we will say it all together!  (Hold up the poster with the tongue twister on it)  Kate baked a grape cake!  Now, let’s say it all together Kate baked a grape cake.  Now listen to me say it and drag out the long a sound.  Kaaate baaaked aaa graaape caaake!  Together, Kaaate baaaked aaa graaape caaake!  Excellent!”

 3)  Next will be the letterbox lesson activity (The students would have already had a lot of practice with the letterbox lesson activity.)  We will do 2, 3, 4, and 5 letter words with review short vowels mixed in as well. The students will be taught that since we don’t say the e, it goes on the outside (not in a box).  The teacher will model with a felt board and large Elkonin boxes/letters.  “Ok class here is your letterboxes and a bag full of new letters for our words.  Who can raise their hand and tell me what you do when I call out a word?  Good, yes you spell out each letter or letters that you hear in each box.  Let me show you an example.  I want you to spell the word cat; I have a white cat.  Good you put the c in one box, the a in the second box, and the t in the last box (teacher models in her boxes the word too). Ok now before we begin this lesson, who can tell me what you think we might do differently?  Well for the a, consonant, e (or a silent e) letterbox lesson (a_e=/A/), you are to put the e outside of the last letterbox.  Since we don’t hear the e we put it on the outside of the last box. Let me show you how to do one.  For the word same we hear the s so the s goes first, then what do we hear next?   Right a long a, therefore we know that we have to put the e on the outside of the last box. Next is, right m in the last box and the e on the outside; now we have the word same.  I believe you are ready!  Let’s begin!”

(Say each word and have the students spell each word in their letterboxes) – hint: You might want to say a sentence using the word after you say it.  It helps them to understand the context of each word.

2 phonemes: ate, it
3 phonemes: cane, fame, babe, hat
4 phonemes: brave, hunt, scare, grape
5 phonemes: scrape, blend

 I will now model how I am going to spell the words and the students are to read it back to me.  I will do this on the felt board with the large Elkonin boxes/letters; we will do this for all of the words.  “Now friends, like we usually do during the letterbox lesson, I am going to spell the word, and I want you to read it for me.  Let me show you how to do one; (spell ate) I know that the magic e on the end makes the a say its name, /A/.  I also know that the t says /t/.  Therefore when I put those sounds together I know that the word says ate.”

 4)  Pass out copies of Jane and Babe.  Have the students read the book in pairs. “My friends, I want you to read Jane and Babe with your partner. If you have a word that you cannot figure out, raise your hand and I will come help you.  First, let me tell you a little about Miss Jane and the lion named Babe.  Jane is a zoo keeper at a zoo.  Babe is a lion that is kept in a cage at the zoo.  Jane and Babe are great friends, and Jane is not afraid of Babe.  She goes into Babe’s cage to visit him, but he is asleep!  Jane wants to play, so she taps Babe to wake him up.  Babe doesn’t wake up, though.  Will Jane be able to wake Babe up and what will happen?”

 5)  The students will get out primary paper and a pencil.  They will write a message about their favorite animal in the zoo and why it is their favorite.  “Everyone take out a piece of primary paper and a pencil, please.  Friends, I now want you to write a message telling what your favorite animal in the zoo is and why it is your favorite.”

 6)  Give each student a worksheet with the following name and pictures: cake, gate, cat, wave, hat, grape, crab, grass (clip- art can be found on the internet). Review the names and the pictures with the children. “Now I want you to write the correct word under each picture. “Make sure you are reading the whole word to make sure the e is telling the a to say its name.” “You can also look back at your word bank to make sure you are spelling the word correctly.” This activity reinforces the idea that the e at the end of each word is what makes the a long vowel sound.

 7)  For assessment have each student come to your desk and read note cards with pseudo-words. Some words you can use include: HAP, PATE, WAT, NAPE, TAT, and JAVE. This will review a =/a/ and a_e=/A/ and assure that each student knows the difference.  They will do this while they complete their picture sheet.


Cushman, S. & Kornblum, R. Jane and Babe. Educational Insights, Carson CA., 1990. 

Morrow, C.  Blakes Brave Race. 

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