Long A Play Day!

Lindsay Jones

Beginning Reading Design

Rationale: After this lesson children will better understand that when they see ay in words it is pronounced /A/.  Students will also learn to call ay a digraph.  Children will learn to identify the vowel digraph ay = /A/ in written language through various activities.  Students will practice a tongue twister containing the /A/ sound, lists words that include the digraph, play a hangman game with ay words, complete a worksheet containing ay words, and read pseudowords with the digraph.


·        A Day at the Lake by Matt Sims

·        Pictures of words with ay = /A/digraph: Pictures: day, hay, crayon, pray, subway, stingray, holiday.

·        Sentence strip containing the tongue twister: Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.

·        Assessment worksheet with words containing ay = /A/ sounds.

·        Small dry erase board for each student.

·        Large dry erase board.

·        Markers/Pencils

·        List of pseudowords for assessment: blay, dnay, uay, cray, and besay. 


1.  Begin by modeling how to read the tongue twister containing the /A/ sound.  Have the tongue twister written on a sentence strip so the students can see it and have them read along silently as you read it aloud.  The teacher will read: Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.  Say: “Now we are all going to say it together.  Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.  Great job! Now we are going to stretch out the words that have the /A/ sound.  Let me show you what I mean: Aaaaaabe the aaaaape aaaaate Aaaamy’s aaaacorn.  Now lets do that all together.”  After reading the tongue twister do an activity which will assess students background knowledge on the digraph ay = /A/.

2.  Next see what student already know about the ay phoneme.  Have students come up with as many words containing the long /A/ as they can think off.  If students are struggling give them example words like clay and stay.  Then explain how the focus of this lesson is on ay = /A/, and have them mark out words that don’t contain ay.  Explain to students how the /A/ phoneme can be written in more than one way, like ai or a_e.  But for now we are just going to focus on ay.  Sometimes we spell one phoneme, or sound like /A/, in different ways that is why it is called a digraph. 

3.  “Ok now I am going to ask ya’ll some questions that you are really going to have to think about.  If you think you know the answer raise your hand and I will call on you” Say: “Do you hear the /A/ sound in play or part? Marker or crayon? Day or night? Stamp or stray? Holiday or happy?

4.  Next the teacher will go through some pictures of words containing the ay = /A/ digraph.  Students will write the word of the picture on their dry erase board.  Pictures will include: day, hay, crayon, pray, stay, ray. 

5.  We will continue with a lesson similar to a letterbox lesson, but it is adapted for whole group instruction.  It will be played like “Hangman” in which each student will be able to guess a phoneme (this is the key difference; instead of representing graphemes, we will be representing phonemes).  Write word blanks and set up the Hangman symbol on the dry erase board. Model: “Who has ever played Hangman? (If any students have not, use this modeling experience to fill them in).  We will be playing hangman with some words that have the digraph that we just learned.  Here is how you play I am going to put two spaces on the board which means there are two phonemes in this word.  And the hint is something horses like to eat.  So now you will guess a letter…h (continue with the hangman process until hay is spelled [h ay]. Continue with stay (3 phoneme blanks), clay (3 phoneme blanks), crayon,splat (5 phoneme blanks), and today, snack (4 phoneme blanks). Then have students read the list of words. 

6.  Students will now break up into partners for reading.  The teacher will have already assigned partners with a stronger reader and a weaker reader matched together.  Both students will take turns reading and asking questions about the text.  But before students begin reading the teacher will give an engaging book talk to get the students interested. The story that will be read is A Day at the Lake.  Book talk: There are some kids playing at the lake one hot day.  They are prepared with snacks to eat when they get hungry.  They go to get their snacks but their bags have disappeared.  But they see a dog run off with one of their sacks and you are going to have to read to see what happens next! 

7.  For assessment, students will complete a worksheet independently at their desks.  Students will have to read a riddle containing the long /A/ sound and write the answer to the riddle in the space provided.   In the instructions it says that the answer will have the same long vowel sound you hear in hay.  So students will know that the answers must contain ay.   After students have completed the worksheet and turned it in have them come up individually and read some pseudowords containing the ay sound.  Here is a list of ideas: blay, dnay, uay, cray, and besay. 

Assessment worksheet: 




Lesson Design: 

Gam, Erica.  “Easy Peasy ea”.  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/caravans/gambr.htm


Book: Sims, Matt.  A Day at the Lake, Novato, High Noon Books, 2002, pp1-27.


Other readings: 

Learning about Sounds in Spoken Words, Written by Marilyn Jager Adams (1990) published by The Reading Research and Education Center, pages 51-58.


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