"Say A!"

Beginning Reading

Mary Jo Blackmon

Rationale: After the students have learned all of the short vowel sounds, it is now time to teach them the long vowel sounds. The best letter to begin teaching them is the long A sound with says a_e= /A/. I will also practice a few short vowel a= /a/ sounds to see if they can decipher between the two. The method I will use to teach the long A sound as well as review the short a sound is by using a letterbox lesson and flashcards.


·  Letterbox lesson squares

·  Letterbox lesson plastic letters (s, a, y, c, l, b, k, e, m, t, r, f, h, d, p, n)

·  Flashcards (say, bake, mat, rate, safe, shade, plane, black)

·  Copy of Jane and Babe for each child (By: Sheila Cushman; copyright 1990; Publisher- Educational Insights.)

·  Pseudo word flashcards (fane, sate, gase, and mage)


1. "Today, we will be going over the letter A. We already know that the letter a can make /a/ sound, but we will be learning a new sound that the letter a makes. Can anyone tell me what you would say if you just saw a letter a in a sentence? Yes that is very good, the letter a by itself in a sentence says /A/. If I took the letter a and put a "r" in front of the a and a "y" behind the a, what would that word say? (ray) Good job boys and girls! We are going to do a few examples in the letterboxes to help us learn what letters together make an /A/ sound." Letterboxes help the student sound out the word and eventually if they get good at using the letterboxes, we can take away the squares and have the students do the sounding out in their head, which greatly improves their reading.

2. "Here is the letterbox squares that we will be using today to help us sound out the phoneme in each word. Does anyone know what a phoneme is? It is each sound that makes up a word. For example, the word "letter" has four phonemes: L- E- TT- ER. The t's make one sound so that is one phoneme. Now you try one! How many phonemes are in the word "bat?" Yes, there are three phonemes in the word "bat." Now look down at the letterbox squares and you are going to put every different phoneme in a different box. In the word "bat" there should be a b in the first box, an a in the second box, and a t in the last box. We will do one more example, take the word "shake"- what is the sound that the A makes in this word? sh-AAA-ke. Good job. It is the long A sound: /A/. Now we will put "sh" in the first letterbox square. Can you finish the word? Good- sh-A-k(e)."

3. "Now you are going to practice some words on your own. We will give every student a chance to answer; however, we cannot slow the group down so try to get the word within four seconds. " The teacher will now call out these words: say, bake, mat, rate, safe, shade, plane, black. Phoneme count- say: s-a-y, bake: b-a-k (e), Mat: m-a-t, rate: r-a-t(e), safe: s-a-f(e), shade: sh-a-d(e), plane: p-l-a-n(e).

4. I will now pass out a copy of the book "Jane and Babe" to all of the children in the group. I will do a book talk on the book and say, "Babe is the lion that this story is about and Jane is his lion keeper. They do many fun things together, in order to find out what all Jane and Babe do together, you must read to find out!" Each student should try and mumble read to themselves the story and if they have any problems they should talk to the teacher and get clarification.

5. After the students have read this book, they will go through the flashcards with the words that were in the letterbox lesson on them. After they are comfortable with those flash cards, I will give the students pseudo word flashcards as an assessment of if they understand the /A/ sound or if they are just guessing the words on the flashcards.

Assessment: The students should read the pseudo word flashcards that say: fane, sate, gase, and mage. If the students get all of the words, then they have a complete knowledge of the long /A/ sound. If they miss several of the words, then they probably do not have a good grasp on the long /A/ sound.


-  Jane and Babe- By: Sheila Cushman. Copyright 1990. Published by Educational Insights.

- Murray, BA and Lesniak, T. (1999) The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands on Approach for Teaching Decoding.

- The Reading Genie. Kayla Vernon. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/journeys/vernonbr.htm.


return to Invitations page