Biting into an Apple with…/a/, /a/, /a//a//a/

Brittney Garnett

Beginning Reading

Rationale: It is necessary for beginning readers to be able to recognize that phonemes and letters correspond with each other in order to become a proficient reader. Through the knowledge gained in this activity, students will learn to recognize, spell, and read words that contain the correspondence a= /a/.

Single card with an a printed on it, Word cards with the following words printed on it: bat and bug, rack and ring, sat and sit, rug and mat, Sentence Strip with Tongue Twister printed on it: Andy’s apples are amazing!, Elkonin Letterboxes per student, Letter manipulative (s, u, n, c, b, h, g, m, a, t, d, r, j, p, f, k, l, i), Chalk or White-board erase marker, Pat’s Jam, by: Sheila Cushman, Educational Insights. (one per pair of students), Primary paper and pencil, Picture page with the following pictures: bag, track, fan, hat, cat, frog, and flag, Letterbox Matching Word/Picture Worksheet


Procedure: 1. Introduce the a = /a/ correspondence and how to spot it in written text. Today we are going to work with the letter a in written text (hold the letter a card for the students to see). The letter a makes the /a/ sound. How does our mouth move when we say /a/? Our mouth is open and our tongue stays still. This is like the sound that you could make right before biting into an apple.  Everyone practice making the /a/ sound and open your mouth like your fixing to bite into an apple.

2. To practice recognizing the letter a in written text, I will hold up two cards at a time (cards with words bat and bug, rack and ring, sat and sit, and rug and mat). Ask students which word contains the letter a. Hold up one card and as a group say it together, then do the same with the second card. Ask the following questions: Which word has the /a/ sound in it? and Can someone point the letter a in this word? Student’s should raise hand, call on one student.

3. Now I want us to practice saying our funny sentence together. Andy’s apples are amazing. Say together several times. Now I want us to say our tongue twister, but let’s stretch out the /a/: Aaandy  aaapples aaare  aaamazing. Remember to open your mouth like you were biting into an apple when you hear the /a/ sound.

4. Draw Elkonin letterbox on the board for teacher use during this portion of the lesson. Make sure that each student has an Elkonin letterbox with his or her own letter tiles. Ask the students to make sure that each student’s tiles on lower-case side up. We are going to practice spelling words with the /a/ sound. Look at the board and notice that I have two boxes drawn—this is for two mouth movies. Right now, I am going to spell the word at. The first box is for the first sound in at, the /a/, which is like our biting the apple. The second box is for the /t/. Now you are going to practice with the following words: {3} can, ant, air, pal, fat; {4} snack, fast, hand; {5} stamp. Make sure that each time the number of phonemes changes that the students are prompted to open their letterbox up by one more box. (A review word should be included.)

5. Write each word from the letterbox lesson on the board one at a time. Model for students how to read a word written on the board. We are going to read the word pat. Let us start with the /a/, then add /p/ to /a/= /pa/, next let’s add the /t/ to /pa/. Say it together. Now we have pat. Our word is pat. Everyone say it. Call on one student to read the word, then have the class repeat the word as a group.

6. The students will be placed in pairs to read Pat’s Jam. Book talk: Pat is a rat that has a pal named Pam. She is a rat too. They both ride in a van. Pat has ham and Pam has jam. They are both in the van and the van runs out of gas. Can Pam and Pat get out of this jam? We will have to read and find out. Pass out one book per pair of students. The students will take turns reading the book to each other. I will walk around, listen, and observe each pair of students.

7. Write a message about what you would do if you ran out of gas. Remember that when we make the letter a that we start at the belt line and go around in a circle motion to the shoe up to the belt then without lift your pencil draw a straight line back down to the belt. (Children should use invented spelling.)

8. Assessment: - I will use words from the letterbox lesson and have them match the word to the picture that best fits it. While students work on the picture page, I will call students up one at a time to assess their reading of Pat’s Jam and their understanding of the correspondence a = /a/. I will be using a running record.




Beck, I. L. (2006). Making Sense of Phonics. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Murray, B. (n.d.). Emergent Literacy Design Plan. Retrieved 3 9, 2009, from

Murray, B. (n.d.). The Reading Genie. Retrieved March 9, 2009, from Letterbox Word Examples with 4, 5, or 6 Phonemes:

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