Aaaa! The Baby is Crying!

Emergent Literacy
Cortney Winton


It is extremely significant for students to understand the correlation between graphemes and phonemes when they are trying to learn to read and write. Phonemes in verbal word contexts must be distinguished before students can learn to match the letters to the phonemes. Because short vowels can be spelled or enunciated in numerous and diverse ways, they are more difficult to learn than the long vowels are. In this lesson we will focus on working to recognize the phoneme /a/ in its oral and written form.


Primary paper, pencils, dry erase board, marker, index cards, handout with pictures of words that have the /a/ sound in them.


1. Begin the lesson by telling the students that they can recognize the letter a by understanding how the mouth moves when the sound is made.  For instance: We are going to start with the letter a. We are particularly going to focus on short a. Sometimes it can be a little hard to figure out, but I think we will all do great! Now, let's say a = /a/. Repeat after me, please; a = /a/.
2. Ask the students: Do any of you have a little baby brother or sister? Do they cry a lot? Does your mom shout out, "The baby is crying,"? Well, when babies cry, what kind of sound do you think that they make? (/a/) Can everyone say it together? That is the sound that a short a makes. Today we are going to try to see if we can hear that sound in any of the words that we talk about.
3. I am going to read a sentence to you two times. Then I will write it on the board. Just listen to it the first time that I read it. When I read it the second time though, listen carefully to see if you can hear the /a/ sound. Ashley's apple is in the grass around black ants. Now I want you all to repeat that sentence.
4. Does anyone remember what letter makes the /a/ sound?  (Pass out paper and pencil)  We can now practice writing that /a/ letter.  First, let's start just a little below the fence and circle around towards the window. Now let's go to the sidewalk on your paper and then back to where you started. Now draw a straight line down on the side of the circle closest to the door.  Let's practice writing the letter a eight times and then circle your best one.
5. Pass out an index card to each student. Have them write the letter a on one side of it, and an X on the other side.  I am going to call out a list of words one by one. If you think that you can hear the /a/ sound that the letter a makes, hold your card up with the a side toward me. If you do not think that you hear the /a/ sound, hold the X side of the card toward me.  Word List: bat, sit, tap, cot, lit, ham.
6. Introduce the story Pen Pals to the students by telling them a little bit about the characters and the problem that the characters run into. Next, read the story to them, slowly and carefully dragging out the /a/ sounds in the words. After you have finished the story, go back through it and find the words that have the letter a in them with the /a/ sound.
7. Assessment: Give out a handout that has pictures and the names of the items in the pictures on it. Some of the words will have the /a/ sound in them and some will not.  Review the name of each picture with the students. Ask them to circle the pictures that have the /a/ sound in them.


- Assessment: J. Lloyd Eldredge (1995). 

- Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms: Developing Phonemic Awareness Through Stories, Games, and Songs; 50-70.

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