"Alexander said A-a-achoo"
alexander on a pencil
Melanie Smith
Emergent Literacy


 In order for children to learn to read they must first understand phonemes.  Specifically, that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  Children first have to accomplish letter recognition and phoneme awareness, grasping first, the phonemes in spoken words.  This lesson will aim at teaching short /a/ because short vowels are probably the toughest phonemes to identify and learn.  They will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning; meaningful representation, a letter symbol, and practice finding /a/ in words.


Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Alexander asked for ashy amber apples,'' drawing paper and crayons, picture page with hat, hut, cat, cut, flash, flush, bag, past, jam, A Cat Nap.


1.  Begin by explaining that letters make specific mouth moves, and each letter makes your mouth move differently.  Introduce the letter a and explain that it is the mouth move we'll be working on today.  It may be hard at first to spot /a/ in words but as the lesson continues and you get some practice you'll be able to hear /a/ in many different words.

2.  Have you ever heard the /a/ in A-a-achoo?  That's the mouth move we're looking for in words.  Let's pretend to sneeze and say /a/.  If you're about to sneeze your mouth is ready to say /a/, that helps me to remember to say /a/ and not /A/.

3.  Let's try a tongue twister [on chart].  "Alexander asked for ashy amber apples."  Now everyone say it.  This time when we say it, let's drag out the /a/.  "AAAlexander aaasked for aaashy aaamber aaapples."

4.  [Have students take out paper and pencil]  We can use the letter a to spell the sound /a/.  Let's write it together.  First start at the fence and make little c.  Then draw a line connecting the open mouth of the c.  I want you to keep writing the /a/ and queitly say the /a/ sound as you write.  [as students are practicing the letter a I will go around and monitor their progress]

5.  Listen for the Achoo /a/ sound in class.  Stretch it out slowly so you can listen to each sound in the word.  C-c-c-l-l-l-a-a-a-s-s-s-s-s  Do you hear /a/ in class?

6.  [ I will call on students to answer, explaining their answers]  Do you hear /a/ in cap or cupFlash or flushTrash or fish?  Pest or past?

Do book talk for A Cat Nap.  A cat names Tab likes to take naps.  One day he crawls into Sam's bag to take a nap.  Sam takes the bag to a baseball game.  What will happen when Sam finds Tab in the bag at the game?  Let's read to find out!  When finished call on students to give examples of words where they heard short a.

8.  For assessment, distribute the picture page and aide students in naming the pictures.  Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names have /a/


Cushman, Shelia.  A Cat Nap  Educational Insights. 1990
Thaxton, Wade.  "Adam's Fat Bat". http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/catalysts/thaxtonel.html

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