AAAA! with our Friend Fonzie


Beginning Reading

Laura Ruth Langham

Rationale: After the teacher builds a foundation of phonemic awareness, the student can enter into phonics lessons.  In phonics lessons, the student uses prior knowledge and new knowledge to read and spell words.  Students segment, breakdown, the word into individual phonemes or parts to spell the word.  Students blend, or mesh together, phonemes to read words.  Through explicit instruction the teacher can provide students with strategies to decode words that can be used in their independent reading.  Instead of teaching students to read individual words, the teacher concentrates on the student using a set of steps to spell and read words.  Once the student has a word bank for reading texts, the student can use decoding skills to figure out the new words that they encounter and increase their vocabulary.  When working with long vowel sounds, the student should become familiar with the CVCe pattern first before moving to vowel digraphs.  Today's goal is to provide the students with the correspondences ai = /A/ and ay = /A/ through exposure to both correspondences and comparison of the two.  I will provide students with practice using the new skills.

Overhead projector
Transparency (Fonzie with the /A/ phoneme imbedded into the picture)
Pocket chart with multiple rows
Large letters for pocket chart (m, a, t, e, p, i, n, s, y)
Transparency list of words (pay, tank, pain, rap, feet, maid, faint, strap, spray, script)
3 Fonzie pictures with: a_e = /A/, ai = /A/, ay = /A/
Transparency with word list (dog, rain, batch, day, train, tug, play, fled, trail, scrap)
Book Jane and Babe (per student) and copy for teacher. Avaliable in LRC Phonics book set
Piece of paper (per student)
Cover sheet for word list
Letter manipulatives (per student): m, a, t, e, p, i, n, s, y, b, c, l 

Note:  The students have mastered the a_e correspondence.  The students are concentrating on other graphemes for the /A/ sound.


  1. Display the picture from the previous a_e lesson (Fonzie from Happy Days) on overhead and post paper with Fonzie and a_e = /A/.  "Remember in our last phonics lesson, we worked with our friend Fonzie.  What did Fonzie say? [/A/]  Right, he says AAAAA [use the thumbs up pose to reiterate the meaningful representation.].  Do it with me everyone. AAAAAA.  Great!  When we wanted to represent our /A/ sound in a word we would have our teammate e for our letter a.  Our teammate e hanging out at the end of our word changed our a to make the /A/ or long A sound.  Let's spell the word mate together.  Mmm... [place the m in the pocket chart] aaaaa...[place the a in the pocket chart]  /A/ /A/ that is telling us that our e will be helping us out [place e in the pocket chart with a space between it and a].  MmmAAAAtttt [place t in the pocket chart between a and e].  Mate."

  1. "Today, we are going to learn about a new way to represent our /A/ sound with letters.  [Spell the word  pain in the pocket chart] This says pain.  PppAAAAnnn.  Say it with me [follow the word with your finger]. PppAAAnnn.  Great.  When a and i partner up, you will hear the /A/ sound, just like Fonzie. [say /A/ with the Fonzie representation]." Remove the p and the n from the pocket chart.  Give students sets of  letters: m, a, t, e, p, i, n, s, y, b, c, l. Have students use their letters.  Point to ai and say /A/. Have the students repeat it. Replace the p.  "Now let's add the /p/. pppAAA. [Add n] /n/... pppAAAnnnn....pain.  Now it's your turn."[Have students add the p and n]  "I heard everyone use our Fonzie sound /A/. Great job!"Repeat process with the word bait.

  1. Repeat the lesson with the ay grapheme for /A/.  "We know that our i and y are very similar.  In saying that, we can also represent /A/ with the partners a and y.  ay says /A/.  [Spell stay in pocket chart]  This says stay.  Watch as I read this word.  [separate the st from ay]  I see our partners ai in this word, let me go there first.  AAAA... [move the st back next to the ay]  sssttttAAA...stay.  [Take the st away.]  Now I want you to say this /A/.[Let students read the word as you combine the st with the ay.]  Have students use letters to combine the phonemes.  Repeat the process with the word clay.

  1. Now I want you to look at our two new partners for our /A/ sound.  Remember we have ai and ay.  [Place pain and stay by each other in the pocket chart.]  Look at how we can make our /A/ sound with Fonzie for both of these words.  They are spelled differently but sound the same.  I want everyone to read the words with me. [Read pain and stay]  pppAAAAAnnnn.... Pain. sssttttAAAAA...stay.  You will find the ay at the end of the word or inside the word.  Ai can only be found inside the word."

  1. "Now that you are comfortable with our new graphemes for our /A/ phoneme, I want you to read the words on the overhead with me.  Remember that I try to trick you sometimes, so don't just fall in a pattern.  Really look at the words and decode them!"  Have a list that includes: pay, tank, pain, rap, feet, maid, faint, strap, spray, script. Go through the words slowly.  AAA... pppAAA...pppAAAA, pay.  If a certain word seems difficult to the class, work through the word together. "Great job everyone!  Fonzie would be so proud of everyone!  We have three ways to represent our /A/ sound now.  [Write on board as you say the graphemes] They are a_e  [point to posted picture with Fonzie and a_e­ = /A/] ai [post a new Fonzie picture with ai = /A/], and ay [post a new Fonzie picture with ay = /A/].  For our next lesson, we will move on to the next correspondence, long e."

  1. Have the class take out the book Jane and Babe.  Display the text on the overhead.  "Follow along with your finger as we read Jane and Babe together.  Babe loves to sleep, but Jane always has trouble waking Babe up.  We are going to have to read the story to find out how Jane handles  her big lion friend Babe.  Remember our friend Fonzie as we read Jane and Babe."  Slowly read with the class.  Phase out your speaking at time to monitor students without your help.

  1. Display overhead transparency with the following words: dog, rain, stay, batch, day, train, tug, play, fled, trail, scrap.  Display one word at a time.  Have students read the words to themselves.  Have students write the words that contain /A/ on a piece of paper.  Review words after everyone is done.

-     Beck, Isabel. Making Sense of Phonics.  Guilford Press, 2006.  pages 43-47.
First School Years. "Long Vowel Sounds." Ai and ay word lists.

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