Baaa Says The Sheep!

Beginning Reading Design

Jade Jipson



Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence a = /a/. In order for beginning readers to become fluent readers, it’s imperative that students recognize that every letter in the alphabet has a different sound. In this lesson, children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling a. They will learn a meaningful representation (a sheep says baaa baaa), 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/.


Materials: Graphic image of a sheep saying baaa; document camera, Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin letterboxes for each student; letter tiles for each child. Letters for teacher and students: a,t,n,b,c,f,r,s (2),g. A poster with the words: 2[at, an], 3[bat, cat, fat], 4[crab, stab, grass] Decodable text: Lad and the Fat Cat, and worksheet attached below.




1. Say: To become expert readers we need to understand that every letter in the alphabet had a different sound! Today we are going to learn the first letter of the alphabet; a = /a/. What sound does a sheep make? That’s correct baaa. When I hear a sheep say baaa I hear the sound /a/.

2. Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, I am going to read some words for you to listen for the sound /a/. Be sure to remember how your mouth is when you say /a/ it looks like this (model that your tongue and jaw are down when you say /a/). Let’s practice as a class with this tongue tickler: Anna asked Alice if the ant was in the attic (make sure the whole class says it together as a class 3 times). Now let’s practice with words. I will show you first: stack. I felt my tongue and jaw go down when I pronounced the /a/ in stack. Now I’m going to see if I hear /a/ in the word bend. Nope, I did not feel my tongue and jaw go down at all. Now let’s see if you can hear /a/ in the words I’m going to give you. For every word you hear /a/ I want you to say baaa like a sheep and for every word that does not have the /a/ sound I want you to make a sad face. The words are: face sped, trap, ramp, rent, grass.

3. After, have the students get out their Elkonin letterboxes and the correct letter tiles out of there containers (a,t,n,b,c,f,r,s(2),g). The teacher will then teach the letterbox lesson by modeling the lesson using the document camera. The teacher will say: We will use our boxes and tiles to learn how to spell using /a/. First, I want everyone to have four letterboxes stretched out.  I will model spelling /a/ with the word snag. To spell snag make sure you pronounce every different sound you hear. For example, the first sound I hear is /s/ like a snake and I know that the letter s makes that sound. So take your letter s and put it in the first letterbox. The second sound I hear is /n/ and I know that that sound belongs to the letter n, so I will put that in the second letterbox. Now, who can tell me the third and fourth sound they hear? Great! The third sound we hear is the sound /a/ as in baaa says the sheep. Since we know that /a/ belongs to the letter a, we will put the letter a in the third box. Now what is the fourth sound we hear? Correct! We hear /g/ and we know that belongs to the letter g, so we will put the letter g in the fourth letterbox. Now let’s all pronounce snag all together. Great job! Now I have a few words I want you guys to spell on your own using your letterboxes and tiles: 2[at, an], 3[bat, cat, fat], 4[crab, stab, grass]. As the student are busy working on their lesson, make sure and walk around to see if they are doing it correctly and help any student that needs help.

4. Say: now that everyone has completed their letterbox lessons, I am going to have you read the words you have spelled, but first I will show you how to read a harder word. The word is stand: /s/ /t/ /a/ /n/ /d/. First, I am going to start with /a/ and then add /s/ /t/ to the beginning of /a/, and then you will have sta. After you have the first half of the word, then you will add /n/ and /d/. When you blend it all together you will make the word stand. Now everyone read the words in unison on go… ready.. go.

5. Great job everyone! You guys have done a great job with reading and spelling with the short vowel /a/. Now we are going to read: Lad and the Fat Cat. This book is about a dog named Lad who wants to take a nap on his mat but someone is already there and she won't move. Maybe his growls will convince her she needs to find her own mat. I want us as a class to read this book and when you hear a word that has a /a/ sound then I want you guys to make a baaa sound like a sheep!

6. Great job guys! Now, I have a special worksheet that will help you with spelling and reading /a/!




Book: Murray, Geri. (2006) Lad and the Fat Cat. Reading Genie:

Anna Benson: Aaaa, Let’s Ride the Rollercoaster

Sheep picture

Transformation Page