The Baby's Crying! Aaaa!

Beginning Reading


Jessica Smith


Rationale:  Phonemes are a very important part of proper reading instruction.  Students must learn letters and their related phonemes in order to become fluent readers.  Phonemic awareness is a strong predictor of success in reading for beginning readers.  Short vowel correspondences are a good place for teachers to begin for reading since these vowels are in many basic words.  The goal of this lesson is for students to learn the phoneme correspondence for short a, a=/a/.  They should be able to recognize the phoneme in words, use it for spelling, and read words with this phoneme by practice hearing and listening for the phoneme and recognizing it in words, and watching the teacher model how to spell a word with the phoneme.

Materials:  A large picture of a baby crying (google image) with the letter a, document camera or overhead projector, board to write letter and tongue twister on, letter tiles for each student: c, r, a, f, t, b, k, t, h, s, Elkonin boxes for each student, copy of Pat's Jam for each student, worksheet with words van, cat, fan, ham, and stack and pictures to match the words to.



1.      Introduce the lesson by explaining to the students that they will be learning more about the short vowel a.  "Today we're going to talk about this letter, (the letter a written on the board).  What letter is this?  That's right, its an a.  Sometimes, a makes an /a/ sound.  When you hear that sound, you can think about a baby crying."  Show the class the gesture of a baby by rubbing under the eyes as if crying.  "See /a/, /a/, /a/, just like a baby.  Everyone say that with me.  /a/, /a/, /a/.  Good job!"

2.      Write the following tongue twister on the board, "Abby the alligator likes to eat apples.?"  "Now I'm going to say a funny sentence that has a lot of words that start with /a/.  I'm going to say it by myself first, and then I want you to say it with me.  Abby the alligator likes to eat apples.  Ok, now you say it with me.  Abby the alligator likes to eat apples.  That's very good.  This time we're going to say it really slowly and really try to make that /a/ sound.  Every time you say a word that makes that sound, I want you to do the crying baby gesture we did early.  Stretch out the /a/ sound so you can feel the way your mouth moves when you say it.  It sounds silly, but lets do it. Aaabby the aaaligator likes to eat aaaaples.  Good job everyone!"

3.      Next  model how to find /a/ in a word.  "Now I'm going to try to find the /a/ in the middle of a word.  What about the word splat?  I'm going to stretch out the word in my mouth to try to hear /a/.  /s/-plat, /s/-/p/-lat, /s/-/p/-/l/-at, /s/-/p/-/l/-/a/-t.  There it is! Splaaat!"

4.      Call on students to answer each and tell how they know.  "Do you hear /a/ in cat or kit?  Clap or bent?  Snack or spill?  Snap or crop? Cast or cost?"

5.      Next instruct the class with a letterbox lesson.  Pass out material for each student, Elkonin boxes, letters: c, r, a, f, t, b, k, t, h, s. Use a document camera for modeling.  "We're going to use these boxes to spell out some words.  First let's say I have to spell the word craft.  Ok what I'm going to do is stretch the word out to hear all the different sounds.  /k/, /r/, /a/, /f/, /t/.  First I hear /k/.  I know that the letter c makes that sound.  I'm going to put a c in the first box.  /k/, /r/.  Next comes the /r/ sound.  That's the letter r.  /k/, /r/, /a/.  There's that /a/ like the baby, so I know that's an a.  Almost done.  Only two boxes left.  /k/, /r/, /a/, /f/.  I hear the /f/ sound, and I know that's an f.  /k/, /r/, /a/, /f/, /t/.  /t/ is the sound t.  Now I spelled craft.  I'm going to ask you all to spell a few words."  Tell the students to spell the following words, one by one:  [cat] 3: [back, that], and 4: [trash].  As they are spelling walk around the room checking their work, and helping any students who need help.  When every student is done with each word, explain the correct way to spell the word.  Write a list of words on the board.  Include the words, back, trash, that, black, lag, and slag.  Call on students to read each word. 

6.      Pass out the book, Pat's Jam.  "This book is about two mice named Pat and Pam.  Pat and Pam are very hungry so they have to go to the grocery store to get something to eat.  There is so much food so it's hard to decide, but they finally get some jam and ham.  They get back in their van, but they see they're out of gas.  What are they going to do? You'll have to read to find out!"  Have the students whisper read the book, walking around to check on their progress. 

7.      To assess students, take note of errors during the different tasks, phoneme awareness activity, letterbox lesson, and reading.  Give the students a worksheet to match words with pictures. [van, cat, fan, ham, stack].



Pat's Jam.  Educational Insights 1990.

Roberts, Becky.  (2007).  Aaaaa! You Scared Me! Beginning Reading.  Reading Genie


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