Beginning Reading LD – “Aaaaahh Choo!”

By: Christine Acker

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence _a_=/a/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling _a_. They will learn a meaningful representation (Aaaaahh Choo, sneezing), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence _a_=/a/.



·         Graphic image of a person sneezing

·         Cover-up critter

·         Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student

·         letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: a,c,d,n,m,p,r,s,t; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: and, rat, pan, rack, mass, sand

·         decodable text: Lad the Fat Cat and assessment worksheet.


1.      “In order to become an expert reader we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words!” Then continue to state that, “We have already learned to read some sight words, like the, and today we are going to learn about short a. When I say /a/ I think of a person sneezing saying ‘Aaaaahh Choo!’”  This would be a good place to show an image of a person sneezing.  Then say, “Now let’s look at the spelling of /a/ that we’ll learn today.” Continue to show on a whiteboard or sheet of paper. 

2.      Start off this next part by stating, “Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /a/ in words, I hear a say its name /a/ and my lips are open wide to make the a sound.” Then you model and show how you felt your lips open when you say a.  Also, model saying a word like gate and show how you don’t hear short a in gate because your lips did not open wide. Then ask them to try the same thing.  Say, “If you hear /a/ say, “Aaaaahh Choo!” If you don’t hear /a/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in pat, rain, coat, pant, sack, lip?” Really have them pretend to sneeze when doing this; it makes it more fun!

3.      Now transition into posing the question, “What if I want to spell the word sand? “When I go to the beach, I like to play in the sand.” Again model how you would do this in the letterboxes and how you need to know how many phonemes are in the word so you can stretch it out appropriately.  It should look like /s//a//n//d/. That means you’ll need four boxes.  Really emphasize how you hear that short a sound right before the /n/ so have them put it in its correct letterbox before anything else (the second one). The word starts with /s/, that’s easy; I need an s. Now I’m going to say it slowly, /s//a//n//d/. I think I heard /n/ so I’ll put a n right after the a. One more letter.  The missing one is /d/. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. I’m going to start with _a_; that part says /a/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: s-a, /sa/. Now put that chunk together with the last sounds, /sa-nd/.

4.      Now have them spell some words in letterboxes. They will start out easy with two boxes for at. “At home I like to watch my dog play in the yard.” Ask, “What should go in the first box?” “What goes in the second box?” Make sure to always observe progress. You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /a/. Here’s the word: pat, I pat my dog behind the ear. (Allow children to spell remaining words: and, ran, rack, mass, sand.)

5.      Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled.

6.      Tell students, “You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /a/: _a_! Now we are going to read a book called Lad the Fat Cat. This is a story of a Fat Cat named Lad who gets in some trouble when he sees some food on the counter that he really wants to try.  Lets read the story and find out if Lad the Fat Cat gets caught with the food or not.”  Have stop spots where you talk about the plot.

7.      Finally say, “Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /a/=_a_. I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, we have some words missing. Your job is to look in the box of word choices, and decide which _a_ word fits best to make sense of this very short story. First try reading all the words in the box, then choose the word that fits best in the space. Reread your answers to see if they make sense.”  Then evaluate the worksheet once they have been completed and asses student’s progress. 


The Reading Genie.

Lad the Fat Cat