Aaaayyy, I see

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By: Caroline Duffy


Rationale: This lesson is designed to teach children about the correspondence a_e = /A/.  For a student to be able to read successfully they must understand different phonemes and know what letters are used to create them.  This knowledge will allow them to map out the spellings of various words.  In this lesson the students will recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling a_e.  They will begin to learn and understand this correspondence by linking it with a memorable saying, mapping out a_e words in a letterbox lesson, and reading a decodable text.


Materials: whiteboard, dry erase marker, document camera, letterboxes, letter manipulative (a,t,e,n,m,l,s,v,k,b,c,r,p), paper, pencil, Race for Cake, link to the story can be found in the reference section of this lesson (enough copies for the entire class), image of Fonzie, cover-up critter, assessment worksheet (enough copies for every student in the class), note cards of all the words (ate, name, late, slave, skate, blame, crane, scrape, rat, hole, crab, cat, brace, place, smoke, spade, score, close, blade, grade, fane, sate, gase, mage),  a copy of the tongue tickler: Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.




1.      Say: In our journey of learning to read we must learn about different parts of a code that make up the language we speak.  We have already become experts on the sounds and spellings that make up our consonant sounds and short vowel sounds.  In the word rock we know that /r/ is spelled with the letter r.  We also know that in the word rat the /a/ is spelled with the letter a.  Today we are going to move into learning about a new section in our language code.  We are going to learn about how the letters a and the silent e make /A/.  Learning about the long A is the key we need before we learn about other long vowel sounds.


2.      Say: Does anyone know who Fonzie is? [Show class a photo of him.]  For those of you that do not know, Fonzie was a character on Happy Days, which was a show that your parents probably watched.  On the show he was famous for his action of saying aaayy and giving a thumbs up.  The way he said aaayy makes the same sound as /A/.  When I say /A/ I want you to think of Fonzie [show class photo again] saying aaayy and giving a thumbs up. [Say /A/].



3.      Say: Everyone say /A/. /A/[Class in unison]. Did anyone notice how their mouth moved when you said /A/?  When you pronounce /A/ your mouth is open and the corners of your mouth move backwards a little bit.  Now let’s say the short a sound, /a/.  Can anyone tell the different between the two sounds? Yes, when you say /a/ the corners of your mouth do not move backward like /A/.  Now I am going to say a word and you will look at my mouth to see if you notice if my mouth makes the /A/ movement. Say ate.  Was there an /A/ in that word?  Lets try another word, late. Yes, when saying both of those words my mouth was open and the corners of my mouth moved backward.  What about when I say hole? That time there was no /A/.  Notice how when I said hole the corners of my mouth went forward to make a different sound.  Let’s try another word.  What about when I say crab?  I hear an a sound in that one.  Let’s say it again so we can decide if we hear /a/ or /A/.  C-c-c-r-r-r-a-a-a-a-b-b-b.  When I said crab I felt my mouth open but the corners of my mouth did not move backwards.  I am going to say it again to make sure, c-c-c-r-r-r-a-a-a-a-b-b-b.  I heard /a/ not /A/.  There is no /A/ in this word.  Now I am going to read a list of words.  If you hear /A/ say /A/ and give me a thumbs up.  If you do not hear /A/ say nothing and give me a thumbs down.  Here we go: brace, place, smoke, spade, score, close, blade, grade.


4.      Say: Before we learn how to spell our /A/ words lets practice pronouncing these words with a tongue tickler. [Write tongue tickler on the board].  Say the tongue tickler aloud to them, Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.  Now lets say it as a class. [In unison] Abe the ape ate Amy’s acorn.


5.      Say: Now we are going to learn how to spell a word when you hear /A/.  There are a couple different ways /A/ can be spelled but today we are going to focus on a_e.  Write a_e on the board for all students to see.  When there is a dash between the a and e it indicates that the e is silent and the a makes the /A/ sound instead of the /a/ sound.  The line between the a and silent e stands for a consonant that occurs in the word after the letter a but before the letter e.  Who can tell me what a consonant is?  A consonant is any letter in the alphabet other than a,e,i,o,u.  [Get out letterboxes and turn on document camera].  What if I want to spell the word name? My name is Miss Caroline.  We are going to spell this word using a letterbox so we need to know how many phonemes are in the word.  To find the phonemes lets stretch it out and count: /n/ /A/ /m/. I hear three phonemes so let me get out three letterboxes. I heard /A/ in the middle so I am going to put a letter a in the second letterbox.  Since we know that the silent e signals the /A/ I am going to put the e outside the last letterbox so that our word demonstrates a_e.  Now lets map out our other phonemes.  I heard /n/ first so I am going to place the letter n in the first letterbox.  Now we have /nA/.  Let me stretch it out one more time to see what I am missing, /n/ /A/ /m/. I hear /m/ at the end so I am going to put the letter m in the third letterbox.  Now that we have our spelling lets say it all together, name. 


6.      Say: Now it is your turn to spell some words using the letterboxes.  For your first word you will only need two letterboxes.  The word is ate.  At lunch, Sarah ate pizza because it is her favorite food.  What should go in the first letterbox? [Allow students to answer].  Who can raise their hand if they can tell me where the silent e goes?  Yes, it goes outside the last box.  Lets review this word [demonstrate on a letterbox on the document camera].  We have the word ate.  Lets stretch it out, /A/ /t/.  I hear two sounds so I am going to get out two letterboxes.  Since /A/ is the first sound I am going to put a letter a in the first box and the letter e outside the last box.  The next sound is /t/ so I am going to put the letter t in the second box.  Now I have my word, ate, a-t-e.  Now we are going to try another word.  You will need three letterboxes this time.  The word is late.  My mother was late picking me up from school.  I will be walking around the room while you try to map out this word on your own.  When the students are finished call on a student to go up to the document camera and demonstrate how they found their spelling. [After their demonstration] Great Job! Does everyone see how [name] got that? Late has three phonemes, /l/ /A/ /t/.  /A/ is in the middle so we put the letter a in the second letterbox and a letter e outside the last box.  Next, we hear /l/ first so we put the letter l in the first letterbox.  We hear /t/ last so we put the letter t in the last letterbox.  Finally we have our word, late, l-a-t-e.  Lets try another word, cat.  You will need three letterboxes for this one.  I have a pet cat named Spot.  [Walk around the room while the students map out the word].  Go over with the students on the document camera.  Okay class, lets stretch out the phonemes, /c/ /a/ /t/.  Did anyone hear /A/ in cat? That is correct there is no /A/ in cat so the /a/ sound must mean the second letter is an a.  Also, since it is short there is no silent e.  Lets fill in the other two sounds.  The first sound we hear is /c/ so lets put the letter c in the first box.  The last sound we hear is /t/ so we will put a letter t in the last box.  Now we have our word, cat, c-a-t.  Repeat this process for all the new words, safe, skate, slave, blame, and crane.


7.      Say: Now that you are all rockstars at spelling words with a_e = /A/ I am going to repeat the steps we just learned to read a tricky word with /A/.  When I say the word [scrape] aloud I notice that the e is silent indicating that the vowel will no longer make a short sound, which means in this word the letter a will sound like /A/ instead of /a/.  Next, I am going to read the word one sound at a time.  I will begin by covering up the word.  I will uncover each letter one at a time, /s/ = /s/+/c/= /sc/ + /r/ = /scr/.  Now I will blend /scr/ with /A/ and get /scrA/.  Now I need to add my last sound /p/. Scrape, s-c-r-a-p-e, now we have it! [Display the word and say it out loud in a context sentence].  I got a scrape from falling on the playground. If you follow these steps every time you try to spell a word you will get it right!

8.      Say: We are going to begin our reading portion of the lesson.  We will start by reading the new words we just spelled, name, ate, late, safe, slave, skate, blame, crane, and scrape.  Now that we have reviewed our words and are a_e = /A/ experts we are going to journey on into reading a new story, Race for Cake, by Geri Murray. [Before the students begin reading engage them in the story with a booktalk].  Booktalk- Ben and Jess had gone for a swim in the lake.  On their way back they think their mom is baking a cake because they can smell it.  They begin to race to the gate so they can get to the cake.  Now we have to read the story to find out what happens in the race and who gets cake.  The students are broken into small groups where they will read the story to find out what happens.  During small group the teacher walks around to each group and monitors reading.  After small group reading the class will reread the story aloud together.  Volunteers are chosen to act out the story as it is read.  After the conclusion of the story/play the students will discuss what happened in the race and what happened to the cake.


9.      Say: We are going to finish up our lesson on a_e = /A/ with a two-step activity.  On the worksheet that I pass out there are different pictures on the page.  First, you will circle each picture that has /A/ in its name.  Then you will use the strategies that we learned today to spell the names of the pictures that you circled. After the students have completed the worksheet they will read aloud the words on the sheet with the /A/ sound.  When the students are successful in reading those words the teacher will display the following pseudowords: fane, sate, gase, and mage.  The students will practice reading the words aloud one at a time.  The worksheet practice will give the students the opportunity to practice identifying words with the /A/ sound.  The reading practice will allow me to assess their ability to identify and pronounce /A/ in a word.


Internet Sites:

Murray Bruce.  Reading Genie. (worksheet)


Blackmon, Mary Jo. “Say A!”


Book: Murray, Geri. Race for Cake. Genie Collection. 2006. 5 pages.

Internet Site for book: Murray Bruce. The Reading Genie.

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