Wh-aaaaa-l-e of an A!





Beginning Reading Lesson 

by Amanda Talley


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /A/, the phoneme represented by a_e.  Students will learn to recognize /A/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (waving while saying “aaaayy!”; think Fonzie from Happy Days) and the grapheme a_e, practice finding /A/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /A/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing words with similar vowel sounds.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; letter boxes, letter tiles: a,b,c,d,e,f,k,l,m, p,r,s,t. Tongue twister on chart: "Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.", Jane and Babe (Educational Insights, 1990) for all students; word cards with  MADEACE, LAKEGATE, and BRAVE, paper and crayons, assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /A/ (URL below).



1. Say: In our language there are times when two letters sound a lot a like, for example 'c' and 'k'. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for--the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /A/. We can spell /A/ with letters a_e. The blank stands for another letter which comes between the a and e.   /A/ makes the same sound as if you were saying hey to someone without pronouncing the /h/ sound, "/A/!".


2. Practice with me, /A/, /A/, /A/. [Wave to one another] Notice how you shaped your mouth. When we say /A/, we are actually saying the letter name A.


 3. Let me show you how to find /A/ in the word pail. I'm going to stretch fade out in super slow motion and listen for me saying the letter A. Ff-aa-dd-e. Slower: Ff-aaaaaa-dd-e. There it was! I felt my mouth say the letter A.  I can feel the /A / in fade.


4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /A/ at the beginning of the words. " Aaaa-b-e the aaaa-p-e aaaa-t-e Aaaa-m-y’s aaaa-c-o-r-n " Try it again, and this time break it off the word: " /A/be the /A/pe /A/te /A/my’s /A/corn.”


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter a_e  to spell /A/. Let's write the lowercase letters a_e. Start just below the fence and make a curve like you are about to write the letter o. When you get back to where you started on the fence, draw a straight line down. That's the letter a, but to make the /A/ sound, we must imagine another letter following the a, then an e. For this, leave enough space after the letter a for an imaginary letter. Start in between the fence and the sidewalk, then draw a straight line out to the right. Next, without picking your pencil up, draw a c by curving up to the fence, down to the sidewalk, and around stopping before you complete a circle. That is a_e. I want to see everybody's a_e. After you are done, I will come around and give you a sticker. Then practice writing five more.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /A/ in maze or madBall or bakeAge or atFall or fade ? Face or fad? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /A/ in some words. Put your thumb up if you hear /A/: The, able, snatch, tailed, him, pain, plate.


7. Pass out letter tiles and letterboxes. Say, “We are going to practice spelling the sounds we say.” Model first word, pale.  /p/ /A/ /l/ e. Pale. Instruct the students to practice along with the first word. Next call out each word as they spell it out using their materials: 2-- [ate], 3--[fate, male, tame], 4--[ place, spade, brake, blame], and 5--[scrape].


8. Say: "We are going to read a book called, Jane and Babe. In this book, we will learn about a woman Jane, who works as a zookeeper and takes care of a lion named, Babe. One day, while babe is sleeping, Jane wakes him up! Will Babe be mad? Read to find out! Put your thumbs up if you hear /A/ as you read." Ask the students to read it individually. Come around and ask children to say words with a_e and draw out the /A/ sound.  Ask children if they can think of other words with /A/. Ask them to think of something that has the /A/ sound . Then have each student write the name of the object and draw a picture of their /A/ object. Have the students exchange papers and read other students /A/ words.


9. Show MADE and model how to decide if it is made or mall:  /A/, so this word is mm-aaa-dd-e, made. You try some: ACE: ace or at? LAKE: lamp or lake? GATE: gate or gab? BRAVE: brat or brave?


 10. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to color the pictures that contain long a blue, and those with short a gray to discover what Ann and Abe are looking for. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Bruce Murray.  Emergent Literacy Lesson. "Brush Your Teeth with F". http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html


"Jane and Babe" Educational Insights, Carson, CA (USA). 1990.


Assessment worksheet: http://www.free-phonics-worksheets.com/html/phonics_worksheet_v1-36.html


Krista Doyle. Beginning Reading Lesson.  “/A/! Hit by Hail!” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/adventures/doylebr.htm


Tongue Tickler: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/ticklers.html

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