Allie the Alligator

animated walking alligator

Kim Holzapfel

Beginning Reading



In order for beginning readers to become successful in reading and writing, they must first understand and recognize that each letter in the alphabet represents a different sound. By learning about phonemes and letter correspondences, beginning readers can become fluent readers. Short vowels are often difficult for students to identify and therefore, this lesson will focus on the vowel correspondences a = /a/. The students will learn the /a/ correspondence through a meaningful representation. In addition, they will learn to spell and read words with the /a/ sound through a letterbox lesson and through a decodable book.



-Chart with tongue twister, Allie the alligator asks for an apple.

-Elkonin boxes for students (up to 6 boxes)

-Plastic letters for each student ( a, b, c, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t )

-Laminated big letters and pouch to demonstrate with

-Copy of A Cat Nap for each student

-Pseudoword sheet with gaf, han, tam, lat, wap



1.  Begin by explaining to students that they are going to learn the letter a and the sound it makes.  "This is the letter a and we hear the /a/ sound in many words!  Today we are going to learn to recognize this sound and also learn to read and write words with it."


2.  Relate the sound to students.  Ask, "Have you ever been scared by something and you scream ahhh?  Well that's what sound the a makes in some words.  We open our mouths and our tongue stays on the bottom of it. Now I want you to practice.  Pretend you are scared of something, put your hands on your cheeks and say Aaaaa!"


3.  Give students a tongue twister to help them remember the sound.  "Say the tongue twister with me when I point to the words.  Allie the alligator ate an apple.  Great!  This time when we say it, stretch out the /a/ sound when you hear it, and put your hands on your cheeks like youāre scared!  Aaallie the aaalligator aaasks for aaan aaapple. Good job!"


4.  Give students practice with phoneme awareness.  "Now letās see if we hear the /a/ sound in spoken words.  Do you hear /a/ in orange or apple?  Dog or bat?  Mat or pet?  Run or tan?"


5.  Do a group letterbox lesson using the /a/ sound.  "Now I want you to spread out all of your letters for our lesson and make sure you can see all of them.  We are going to try to spell some words.  Remember, put each sound in its own box!  Iāll show you how to spell one first.  I want to spell snack.  S-n-aaa-ck.  The first sound /s/ goes in the first box, the second /n/, goes in the second box, the third /a/ goes in the third box, and the last sound /ck/ goes together in the last box.  Some boxes may have two letters in it if they make one sound.  Now itās your turn to spell some words."  Tell students to use their letterboxes to spell the following words: {2- at; 3- tap, bat, tack; 4- black, champ, fact, thrash; 5- drank, scrap, sprang; 6- strand} Make sure to tell students how many boxes to use before they try to spell each word.  After they are finished spelling the words in the letterboxes, I will have the students read the words outside the boxes. 


6.  Tell the students to put away their letters after they are finished.  Spell the words used in the lesson for the students and have them read them.  If the students are having trouble, isolate the vowel sound using a cover-up and then blend body-coda.


7.  Give children practice reading the /a/ sound.  "Now we are going to read a book called A Cat Nap.  This is about a fat cat named Tab.  He likes to nap in a bag.  Sam is a man who likes to play baseball and loves Tab.  Youāll have to read A Cap Nap to see what happens to Tab!"  Ask children to read the book silently, then I will read the book to the class.  When finished, ask what words contained the /a/ sound and make a chart.


Assessment:  Give students a pseudo word test to see if they can decode the /a/ sound.  Ask them to read raf, lan, nam, dat, bap.  "These arenāt real words, but I want you to see if you can read these silly words to me."


Checklist for teacher to use:

-Can the student identify which words have the /a/ sound in spoken words?

-Can the student put each sound in its own letterbox when doing the letterbox lesson?

-Can the student identify which words make the /a/ sound after reading A Cat Nap and make a chart?

-Can the student decode the /a/ sounds when given a pseudo word test?



Murray, B.A & Lesniak, T. (1990).  "The Letterbox Lesson:  A hands-on approach for Teaching decoding." The Reading Teacher, Volume 52, No. 6, 644-650. 

Cushman, S (1990). A Cat Nap. Carson , CA : Educational Insights.

Katherine Allsop- "Aaaa!  Don't Scare Me Like That!"

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