“Aaaaa… cries the baby”

Laura Charlton

Beginning Reading

Rationale: As a beginning reader, it is important for students to learn the correspondences between letters and sounds. Vowels are very important in learning to read because they are found in every word. Because short vowels can be hard to learn, it is important for students to have explicit instruction and practice. This lesson will help students learn to recognize and read the correspondence a=/a/. The students will learn the correspondence a=/a/ by making a memorable connection to the correspondence in written and spoken words.

Chart with tongue twister
Book: The Cat in the Hat
Letterbox squares
Letter tiles-a, c, t, b, k, p, l, g, r, s
Primary paper

1. I will begin the lesson by introducing the phoneme sound /a/. Also by asking, “Have you ever heard a baby cry?” Well, today the phoneme that we are going to working on makes the sound of a baby crying.  “Aaa.” It may also help the student to explain what the mouth movements for this sound look like. “Watch my mouth as I make the /a/ phoneme. Notice my jaw and tongue are down.” I can also show them to make the movement of rubbing their fists by their eyes like they are crying while saying /a/ to help them remember the sound better. “Now I want you to try making the /a/ sound and movement”.

2. At this point I will show my student the letter Aa. I will write it on the board so they can see it easily. As I am writing it I will reemphasize that this letter makes the “Aaa” sound.

3. I will now have my student practice the “Aaa” sound by teaching them a tongue twister that focuses on words with the /a/ phoneme in it. “Abby asked Alice about astronauts after adding apples.” I will have my student listen to me say it and then have them repeat it several times by their self.

4. Now I have my student practice writing the grapheme Aa. I will give my student primary writing paper and a pencil and will first model to them how they will write it.  I will explain, “to make a capital letter A start at the rooftop and slide down toward the sidewalk in both directions. Now draw a line connecting the two along the fence. To make a lowercase letter a start slightly below the fence line, curve up to the fence line, around to the left all the way to the sidewalk and back up halfway to the fence. Then draw a line from the fence to the sidewalk closing off the letter. After my student watches me write the letters they should practice writing at least five of each on their own.

5. At this point I will do an exercise with my students in which they will have the opportunity to distinguish the /a/ phoneme in spoken words. I will tell the children to making the movements of a baby crying if they hear that sound in the following words. Do you hear the /a/ sound in alligator or elephant? Do you hear the /a/ sound in crab or dog? Do you hear the /a/ sound in activity or lesson?

6. Now I will tell my student they will are going to practice what we’ve been learning by having them spell some words. I will explain that they will be working with letterboxes and letter tiles. I will have a list of words ready with the phoneme /a/ in them along with some review words from previous lessons if applicable. Some possible examples for /a/ words include: (3) act, back, pal  (4) grass, past (5) strap. I will model how the students should segment the words by demonstrating with the word blast.

7. I will now have my student read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. I will introduce the story with a short book talk. For example. This is the cat in the hat and one rainy day he decides to come to this little boy and little girl’s house to play with them. As soon as he gets there he begins doing all sorts of crazy things like juggling their possessions. Do you think he’s going to break their things or get them in trouble when their parents come back? Let’s keep reading to find out what all the cat does. After the student has read the story I will ask if they can tell me some words from the story that have the /a/ phoneme.  I will make a list of the words my student says on the board.

For an assessment I will give my students a worksheet that will give them more practice with the /a/ phoneme. The worksheet will have pictures of words of common words with the /a/ phoneme. Below each picture will be blank letterbox squares with the appropriate number of boxes corresponding to the amount needed for the word. My student will try to fill in as many of the letterboxes as they can. For example, if there is a picture of a cat the student should place c-a-t in the three empty boxes below.

Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat. Random House 1957.

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

Aaa! It's a Rat!! by Elanor McDavid

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