Adventures with /a/!!!

Beginning Reading

Callie Daniels


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.  Since short vowels tend to be more difficult for beginning readers, this lesson focuses on the a=/a/ correspondence.  Students will learn how to recognize this correspondence by a meaningful representation (riding a rollercoaster screaming Aaaa! while holding hands up, like they would if they were actually on a rollercoaster), and will practice finding the /a/ in spoken words by distinguishing which spoken word has the correspondence a = /a/. By using letterboxes, students will spell words with the a=/a/ vowel correspondence.  Students will read single words with the a=/a/ correspondences, as well as read a book with the reoccurring a=/a/ correspondence.


Poster or display with silly sentence written on it.

Letters for letterbox lesson (a,t,b,g,r,h,d,m,s,b,c,l,s,p)

Colorful, cardstock boxes that lay flat on desk

Class set of Pat's Jam

White 4X4 cards (for letter-correspondence card)

Crayons and pencils


1)      Say: "As we continue to figure out our language's secret code, we must learn about all the different kinds of vowels.  Today we are going to learn about the vowel A. Does anyone know what sound the letter A makes? (if students do not know, model how to make the sound /a/.) When we make the /a/ sound we the /a/ sound, our tongue stays down, and we open our mouth and say the /a/ sound.  I make the sound /a/ when riding a rollercoaster.  (raise hands above head, and with excitement say /a/ as if riding a roller coaster. It will make it fun for students to be able to sway side to side.)

                  Let students practice saying the correspondence while actively "riding the rollercoaster."

2)      Give students a tongue tickler, so make the correspondence memorable. Have the silly sentence displayed somewhere in where students can read along. Say: "Now I am going to read a silly sentence, and I want you to read it after me."

                  Alice the alligator eats apples in Alabama.

Have students read the sentence together as a class, a few times. Then stretch out the /a/ sounds. Model how to stretch it out first. Say: "ok now, we are going to stretch out the /a/ sounds in all the words, 'Aaaalice the aaaaligator eats aaaapples in Aaaaalabama.' Now you try."

3)      "Great job! Now I want everyone to listen carefully and try to find the /a/ sound in these words.

                  Do you hear the /a/ sound in:

                              Cat or hot?

                              brag or bread?

                              Add or open?

                              Dad or mom?

4)      Now do a letterbox lesson with the entire class. "Everyone needs to have their letters out in front of them on their desk, and their letter boxes on their desk.  Remember, each sound of the word goes in one box.  When I say a word, I want you to spell the word using your letters, and by putting each sound of the word in a separate box.  I will tell you how many boxes each word needs. Watch me as I spell the word GRAB. (put down correct letters, as you sound them out.) /g/ /r/ /a/ /b/ 'grab'. Now I want you to try and spell these words.

                  2-at 3- bag, rat, had, chat, mash 4- stab, crash, drag, class,  5- blast,                                     splash

5)      After each word call on different students and ask them to share how they spelled the words and which letters went it which box.

6)      After finishing the letter box spellings, have students put the letters and boxes away. Students will now read the words they just spelled by reading them off a list the teacher puts up on the board. As a class students will read the words aloud, if the teacher hears a incorrect pronunciation of the word, begin to scaffold by first isolating the vowel using cover-up and then body-coda blending.

7)      Next students will individually read the decodable book Pat's Jam.  Reading this book will give the students practice with reading words with the a=/a/ correspondence while in the context of a story.  Give book talk: "In this story we will meet two rats who love to eat, but they run into a problem along the way to eat. You have to read to find out what's going to happen."

8)      After students have finished reading the book, I will ask each student to find a word in the book with the a=/a/ sound, or think of any word with the correspondence.  Each student will make their own letter-correspondence card with a picture of their word, a silly sentence incorporating the picture and a=/a/ sound, and a label of the correspondence 'a=/a/'.  Show students an example of what their card should look like.


a)      To assess what the students have learned I will collect their correspondence cards and make sure they could make a sentence using the correspondence.

b)      I will also be walking around while students are spelling the words in the letterbox lessons, to see who is having trouble.

c)      While students are reading the words, I will pay close attention to my struggling readers to make sure they are understanding the correspondence, and will give extra attention to those needing more instruction.

d)     Checklist for teacher to use:

                  Can each student identify which words posses the a=/a/ correspondence in spoken words?

                  Can each student spell words with the a=/a/ correspondence in it?

                  Can each student relate the a=/a/ correspondence to a word, and make a silly sentence incorporating that correspondence?



I used this cite to give me guidelines on how a beginning reader lesson plan should look like.

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