Adam’s Apples

Melanie Tew
Emergent Literacy Design


Rationale: To learn to read and spell words, children need to know that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out those phonemes in spoken words. Before children can match letters to phonemes, they need to be able to recognize phonemes in spoken words.  Short vowels are probably the toughest phonemes to identify. This lesson will help children identify /a/ (short a). They will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding /a/ in words.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Adam asked Abby for an axe to chop his apples."; drawing paper and crayons; Rap a Tap Tap by Leo and Diane Dillon (Scholastic. Broadway, NY. 2002.); pictures of objects with and without /a/: hat, map, tree, bag, apple, lake, mailbox, bat, bed, fish, track. 

Procedures: 1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we're going to work on being able to see the mouth move /a/.  At first /a/ will seem hidden in words, but as you get to know it, you'll be able to spot /a/ in all kinds of words.

2. Ask students: Have you ever seen people riding down a roller coaster screaming /a/? That's the mouth move we're looking for in words today. Let's pretend we are going down a roller coaster and say /a/. [Throw hands in the air as if riding a roller coaster.] We say /a/ to express the thrill we feel when riding fastly down a roller coaster. Ride down your roller coaster: /a/.

3. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Adam asked Abby for an axe to chop his apples." Now everyone say it together. [Repeat twice more.] Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words. "Aaadam aaasked Aaabby for an aaaxe to chop his aaapples." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/a/ dam /a/ sked /a/ bby for an /a/ xe to chop his /a/ pples."

4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We can use letter a to spell /a/. Let's write it. Start at the fence. Draw a circle downward to the sidewalk and back up to the fence. Now, without lifting your pencil, draw a line straight down to the sidewalk. I want to see everybody's a. After I put a star on it, I want you to make nine more just like it. When you see letter a all by itself in a word, that's the signal to say /a/.

5. Let me show you how to find /a/ in the word crash.  I'm going to stretch crash out in super slow motion and listen for the roller coaster scream.  Cr-cr-cr-a-sh.  Cr-cr-cr-a-a-a... There it is!  I do hear the scream /a/ in crash.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /a/ in mat or mate? Cash or check? Bag or boat? Fat or thin? Back or bake? [Pass out a card to each student.] Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words. Throw your hands in the air if you hear /a/. Adam, asked, Abby, for, an, axe, to, chop, his, apples. [Note: an does not have /a/].

7. Say: "This is Bojangles.  He loves to dance and make people happy.  The people around town know him,  but will he ever become a famous tap dancer?"  Read Rap a Tap Tap and talk about the story. Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /a/. List their words on the board. Then have each student draw a man tap dancing and write a message about it using invented spelling. Display their work.

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



 References: Earl, Laura.  Abby’s Alligator.

Slocum, Laura. AAAAAAAAAAA!  Stop Crying!

Back to Perspectives