“The Scary Letter…aaaaaaaaaa!!!”

Beginning to Read

Sarah Sullivan



Rationale: When children are first beginning to read, it is important that they understand that each letter represents a different sound. In order to become a fluent reader, children need to understand the phonemes in words. The short vowel sounds are a great way to begin teaching children the phonemes of letters since every word has a vowel in it. Today the students will learn the a=/a/ correspondence through spelling and reading words with the correspondence in it.



-Chart with tongue twister “Angry Anna asks the alligator for an apple”

-Letter Boxes

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

-Larger letters and letter boxes for demonstration purposes

-Copy of Pat’s Jam by Phonics Readers

-Primary paper/pencil

-Card stock paper with words: fat, lap, big, man, am, has, tip, bam, sat, pop, fat, ham, pet, sad, pam



  1. Alright class today we are going to learn about the special letter a. This letter makes the sound aaaaa like if you were to see a ghost you would say aaaaaa because you are scared (place hands on face near mouth as you would when scared). We are going to use the hand motion and sound to help us remember the a=/a/ sound.
  1. Now I have a tricky tongue twister we are going to say with our special new sound in it. I’m going to say it first and you all listen to all the /a/ sounds that you hear. “Angry Anna asks the alligator for an apple”. Did everyone hear our special sound? Alright lets say it together “Angry Anna asks the alligator for an apple”. Great job now this time lets say it again stretching out our /a/ sound and making the motion as if we were scared. “aaangry aaanna aaasks the aaalligator for aaan aaapple”
  1. Now we are going to use our letter boxes to spell some words with our special sound in them. Remember we put one sounds in each box but every word is going to have our special sound /a/ in it. Watch how I model spelling the word glad in my letter boxes (model for students showing each sound). Ok now everyone spell the words I say in your boxes. 2 phonemes- am; 3 phonemes- cat, sad, hat; 4 phonemes-grab, glad, snack, black, camp, glass; 5 phonemes- crash. As students spell the words I will walk around the class room monitoring how they are spelling and if they make a mistake I will pronounce how the word that they had spelled and see if they make the correction. After everyone in the class spelled the word correctly I will model it in front of the class.
  1. Alright now I am going to hold up some words. Some will have the /a/ sound in them and some will not so listen carefully to the sounds that you hear. When you hear a word with the /a/ sound say aaaa and hold your hands up on your face like you are scared. Read the words : fat, lap, big, man, am, has, tip, bam, sat, pop, fat, ham, pet, sad, Pam.
  1. Now I am going to spell some of the words we just spelled in our letter boxes and you all tell me the word I am saying. I will spell the words we used in our letter box lesson with you the letter boxes and then students will read what I spelled.
  1. Now we will read our book Pat’s Jam. Pat the rat is driving and his van one day and see his friend Pam. Pat has a ham and Pam has jam. Lets finish reading to find out what happens when they try and go for a ride in Pats van. The students will read the book out loud to themselves. I will walk around the classroom and monitor the students reading and help them with problems that they are having.
  1. Ok now that we know the sound that our special sound /a/ that our letter a makes lets practice writing out letter. Begin with your pencil on the fence of your paper and draw a circle going down to the ground. After you draw your circle draw a line straight down on the right side of the circle. Now practice drawing ten a’s by yourself on your paper.


Assessment: The students will come up one at a time and read some words on flash cards with the short a sound in them. Also I will look at their writing of the letter a and see if they write it properly and if now, then help them with more practice.




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

A Cat Nap by Erin Cooper. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/catalysts/cooperbr.html

Baa Baa … I’m Pat the Lamb by Jenna Goodwin http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/catalysts/goodwinbr.html

Pat’s Jam by Phonics Readers. 1990 Educational Insights. Carson, Ca


 Click Here to Return to Perspectives