Old Lady Says /A-A-A/ ?
Beginning Reading Design
Yolanda Routh

Rationale: First graders have mastered most short vowel and consonant grapheme-phoneme correspondences.  Towards the end of the year, children must learn different graphemes that represent one phoneme.  In this lesson, after children master the a_e=/A/ and ai=/A/ correspondences, they will learn ay=/A/.  Children will connect this correspondence to previous ones.  In this lesson, children will learn the correspondence, find it in spoken words and write words using the correspondence.

Materials:  chalk, board, chart paper with "Fay and Kay will lay on the bay all day.", each child a letterbox and letters, overhead letters and letterboxes, copy of Jane and Babe (published by Education Insights) (one for every two students), primary paper, journals, word list for procedure five (say, bay, hay, day ö 2, clay, play, gray ö 3, stray ö 4)


    1. In this lesson, the teacher will explain that we have already found two ways to spell /A/, but today we are going to learn another.  Remind them that writing is a   secret code and this is our next 'code-breaker.'
    · "Today we are going to look at another way to spell the sound /A/.  This may sound tricky, but we will get lots of practice!"

    2. Remember our old lady that says /A-A-A/?  Well, today we are going to discover another way to write down the sound /A/.  Let's stretch it out like our old lady says /A-A-A/.  Good.  Do you hear /A/ in day or die?  Good.  That's right, day has our /A/ sound.  Let's stretch it out d-/A/.

    3. Now, lets look at our tongue twister (point to each word).  "Fay and Kay will lay on the bay all day."  Let's do it slower this time and listen for the /A/ sound.  Now, let's stretch it out.  Have children pick out /A/ words and write them on the board.  Let's split up our first word.  /f/-/A/.  Which letters do you think made the /A/ sound?  Discuss how ay=/A/ is another way for our old lady to say /A-A-A/?

    4. We can find ay=/A/ in all kinds of words.  I'm going to write a sentence on the board and watch how I can find the ay=/A/.  "Jay and Frank say that May has pretty days."  While reading, model decoding.  For example, /j/·Well, I know ay=/A/, so /j/-/A/.    Jay!  (Do whole sentence like this).

    5. Now, each student is going to get letterboxes and some letters.  I'm going to use my overhead letterboxes.  Now, we will do a couple together (three letterboxes).  Stay.  /s-s-s/.  That's my /s/ sound.  /t-t-t/.  There's my ticking clock, so I know that's my t.  /A-A-A/.  There's our old lady sound we learned about today.  /s/-/t/-/A/.  Stay!  Now, you follow along with your letterboxes.  Our next word is 'lays'.   Guide children (do same as before, but let children do their own).  Point our how our /A/ sound is in the middle.  Then, walk around, say a word, check spelling and continue.

    6. Students buddy read Jane and Babe (Educational Insights) together.  Children should read it once for meaning.  After a discussion of the book is completed, have children find the ay=/A/ words while you read aloud.  Each time they hear a word, they should put their hand up to their ear like the old lady saying /A-A-A/.  Then, go back and put the words on the board.  Then, have children write about their favorite day.

    7. For assessment, call each student up while working on journals and have them read the sentence, "Today, Jane may stay out and play."  Check for correct use of the ay=/A/ correspondence.

References:  Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). "The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding."  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

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