Race to Say /A/!

Man Running

Beginning Reading Design

Jeannie Pearman

Rationale: In order for students to become successful readers, they must develop the skills necessary for decoding words. These skills include recognizing and reproducing grapheme to phoneme correspondences. Part of learning to decode is recognizing short and long vowels. The goal of this lesson is to teach students to read and write the phoneme /A/ represented by a_e. Students will  learn to do so by practicing the /A/  phoneme through a meaningful representation and by saying a tounge twister using the phoneme /A/. They will also look at words that use the a_e=/A/ correspondence, spell some a_e=/A/ words in a letterbox lesson, and finally, practice reading the correspondence in the decodable book Jane and Babe.


1.Chart with "Amy bakes cakes all day in May."

2.A zip-lock bag for each student containing the Elkonin boxes and letters needed for the LBL lesson (a,t,e,b,k,e,g,h,u,g,w,v,e,z,p,r,i,c,d,r,o,p,l,n,t,s,c,p)

3.Elkonin boxes for modeling and letters needed to spell the word flake  

4.A copy of the decodable book Jane and Babe for each student

5.Primary paper and pencils

6.Copies of attached a_e=/A/ practice worksheet for each student

7.Dry erase board and markers

8. Pseudoword note cards with the following printed on them: FAP, DAKE, DAT, FLAPE, WAT, BAGE, and HADE


1.First, review /a/=a. Then introduce a_e=/A/. Say, "Today we are going to talk about the letter  a. We have already learned that a says /a/ in many words such as pat, tap, cat, and nap, but the letter a can also have a different sound. A says its name, the sound /A/, in words when it is followed by a consonant and then the letter e. When you hear this sound /A/ in words, think of somebody saying 'Hello!' or 'AAAAAA!' Let’s all wave to each other and say 'AAAA!' together.” (Say it together).

2."Now let’s say a tongue twister that uses the /A/ sound. (Put the tongue twister on the board so that everybody can read it along together.) Amy bakes cakes all day in May. Let’s say it together. (Say it together.) Now, let’s make the /A/ sound in the words longer. Aaaaaaamy baaaaakes caaaaakes in all daaaaaay in Maaaaaay. Good job!

3."Now I already told you that a says its name and makes the /A/ sound in words when it is followed by a consonant and then the letter e. Let’s look at some of those words on the board. How about the word cane? (Write cane on the board.) We can see that the letter a is followed by the consonant n and the letter e. Do we hear the letter e said at the end of the word? /k/ /A/ /n/…cane! No, the e is silent. The e just lets you know to say /A/ instead of /a/.  Now, what if we take off the letter e? (Erase the letter e). What is that word? Can! Right! Let’s try another word. (Write plan on the board.) What word is this? /p/ /l/ /a/ /n/…plan. Right! Now, if I add an e to the end, that changes how we say that word. (Add an e at the end of plan.). Now it says, /p/ /l/ /A/ /n/…plane. Let’s try some more." (Repeat the two sequences with the words made/mad and glade/glad).

4. Now do the letterbox lesson for a_e=/A/. The students will already be familiar with this method of spelling and phoneme correspondence practice. The lesson will consist of some short vowel review words and words relevant to this new correspondence. Model for the students before they begin using your own letterboxes and letters. Say, "Let’s practice spelling some of these words. Today we have learned that a_e=/A/. (Write this on the board). The e is silent, so it will not go in the letterboxes, but just outside the last one. Let me show you how I spell the word flake. Now to spell this word we will need four boxes. The first sound I hear is the /f/, so I will put the letter f in the first letterbox. Now this word has a lot of sounds scrunched up in the beginning so I am going to stretch it out so I can hear each sound really well. FfffffllllAAAAkkkk. The next sound I hear after the /f/ is /l/, so I will put the letter l in the next letterbox. F-l-AAAkkk. The next sound I hear is the long /A/ sound. That means I will put the letter a in the third box. Now I need the e to make the a say its name, so I will put the e outside the last letterbox. I still have not spelled the word flake yet. I still hear the /k/ sound at the end of the word, so I will put the letter k in the fourth and last letter box, just before the e. Now I want you to spell some words". (Hand out bags to each child containing all the letters they will need and the Elkonin boxes.)


The following words will be used for the LBL. Say a sentence out loud that goes along with each word as you call them out for the students to spell. This way, the students will hear and understand the meanings of the words.


2 phoneme words: ate

3 phoneme words: bake, gate, hug, wave, zap

4 phoneme words: brick, drop, plate, tent

5 phoneme words: scrape


Walk around while the students are working to make sure they are using the letterboxes correctly and spelling the words correctly. Give guidance as needed.


Next, write all the words on the board. Call on different students to read them aloud.


5.Pass out individual copies of the decodable book Jane and Babe to each student. Say, "Now we are going to read a good book called Jane and Babe. This book has a lot of words with the /A/ sound in it. I will put you in pairs and you two will find a comfy spot in the room and take turns reading aloud to each other. Help each other if one of you is having trouble. If you both are having trouble decoding a word, raise your hand and I will help you. This story is about a zookeeper named Jane. She takes care of a big lion named Babe. She has to wake him up to feed him and clean his cage. Will Babe be mad when Jane wakes him up? Read to find out!"

6.After reading, students will go back to their desks and take out primary paper and a pencil. Say, "Now it is time for us to write a message. I want you all to tell me in one or two complete sentences what happened in the story you read, Jane and Babe. Was Babe mad when Jane woke him up? What did they do together? What does Jane do to take care of Babe? Write about anything you remembered from the story." 

7.Pass out the a_e=/A/ practice worksheet. The worksheet will contain pictures of a cake, a gate, a plane, and a lake. The names of these pictures will be typed underneath them, and the students will also have to write the names of the pictures underneath each. Have students complete the worksheet after they have finished writing their message. Model how to complete the worksheet. 

8.For assessment, call each student up to a desk/table individually. Show them flashcards with pseudowords written on each. Students then read the words to check for understanding of a = /a/ and a_e = /A/.  Example words are: FAP, DAKE, DAT, FLAPE, WAT, BAGE, and HADE.


James and the Good Day.  (Phonics Readers-Long Vowels. Educational Insights. 1990). 

Jane and Babe. (Phonics Readers-Long Vowels. Educational Insights. 1990).

Mosley, Merdith.  (2006).  I Ate Grape Cake 


Reinhart, Jennifer. (2008.) A Good Day for ay/ai






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