That Darn Cat!!!

Lili Lydon

Emergent Literacy



Rationale: Phonemic awareness is a huge predictor of a child’s reading success, so as teachers it is important to teach and assess student’s phoneme awareness. Understanding the sound a phoneme makes in a word will help them eventually learn to read the word.  Short vowels can be tough because many times children want to say the long vowel sound because of the vowel name. In this lesson, phonemic awareness is taught by using a  visual model  (putting our hands on our cheeks and saying ,  "/a/" like we're scared), saying a fun tongue twister with our focused phoneme  a=/a/, and modeling how to find /a/ in a word.



“The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat,” by Nurit Karlin

Laminated blank construction paper cards for the class

Lined paper and pencils for the class

Picture of Home Alone’s Kevin McAlister for our /a/ visualization

Big sheet of paper with tongue twister, “Andrew and Alice asked if Annie's active animals were angry” written on it

Sticky tack

Big, laminated picture of a rug

Dry erase marker

Dry erase board

Sheets with a picture of a rat, cat, witch, and mat in a living room



  1. Begin to discuss how we talk, read, and write, and how it is a big code and how we can all figure out the code and be good readers and writers. “Today, we’re going to talk about the letter ‘a’ and when it says /a/.”
  2. “Sometimes when something scares me, I scream or squeal. Can someone quietly show me how they might act if something scared them?” Compliment their scary act then show the Home Alone /a/ face. “I say /a/ *putting hands on face* when I get scared. Can you all do this with me in your inside voices?”
  3. “I’m going to read a funny sentence called a tongue twister. Andrew and Alice asked if Annie's active animals were angry. Now I want you to say it with me a few times. Now let’s say it again, slowly, and stretch out the /a/ sounds and make our scared faces.”
  4. Have the class get out their pencils and primary paper. “Class, you’ve done a great job reading that long sentence with me. Now we’re going to write a on our sheets of paper. Watch how I write my a’s. I start at the middle line, or the fence. Remember, we help ourselves with this paper by saying that the top line is the rooftop, the middle line is the fence, and the bottom line is the sidewalk. I start at the fence, and draw a curve, a c, down to the sidewalk. Next, I go back to the fence, and draw a straight line from the fence to the sidewalk, and connect the ends of my little c. Practice writing your a’s on your paper.”
  5. “Now I’m going to find /a/ in the word crash. I’ll sound the word out very slowly. Cccccccc, rrrrrrrrrrr, /a/, oh! There’s our /a/ sound, like when we’re scared. Ccccc, rrrr, /a/, shhh. Crash.”
  6. Call on the students and ask them if they hear /a/ in: ban or bun? Rat or rot? Chin or champ? Grass or green? Dish or dash? Now say words and have the students already have their construction paper cards. “I want you to hold up your card if you hear a word with our /a/ sound. Sad; brass; can; grin; won; hands; last; dusk; name; grand.”
  7. The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat by Mr. Karlin is about a cat who always sits on a mat. His friends, a rat and a witch, cannot make him get up and do anything, and it really frustrates them. The cat just does not care. We’re going to read The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat to find out of the cat ever gets up for the rat or the witch.”
  8. After the story is read, show them the drawn rug or mat – have it stuck to the wall or somewhere where everyone can see. Have the students write on primary paper what they like to do on lazy days like our cat’s lazy day in the story using invented spellings.
  9. Have a sheet with a picture of a cat, mat, rat, and witch in a living room. Have other things in the living room too. Tell the students to circle the objects in the picture that have the /a/ sound, and to write them on their primary paper.



Amanda Cummings. Grandpa Ed.


Karlin, N.  The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat.  An I Can Read Book Series.  Harper Collins. New York: 1996.

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