Hop on the train!

                                                                                                                                A Beginning Reading Lesson
                                                                                                                                          Mary Beth Smith

Rationale:  This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence ai=/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 ai. They will learn a meaningful; representation, they will spell and read words containing this spelling in letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence ai=/A/.

Materials: Graphic image of train; cover-up critter; whiteboard Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin letterboxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: t, r, a, i, n, p, g, m, s, b, list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: train, rain, pain, gain, main, again, stain, brain, paint, decodable text The Train Trip and assessment worksheet.

1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel words with a, like cat, and today we are going to learn about long A and the silent i signal that is used to make A say its name, /A/. When I say /A/ I think of jumping on a little blue train. [show graphic image]. Now let’s look at the spelling of /A/ that we’ll learn today. One way to spell /A/ is with the letter a and ai signal to tell me to say A’s name. [Write ai on the board.]  This means that when you see a word with ai in the middle and a consonant and the beginning or end of the word it is going sound like the letter A.

2. Say: 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 make a little oval shape like this. [Make vocal gesture for /A/.] I’ll show you first: abstain. I heard a say its name and I felt my lips make a little circle [make a oval motion around pursed lips]. There is a long A in stain. Now I’m going to see if it’s in clap. Hmm, I didn’t hear a say its name and my mouth was open like a open smile. Now you try. If you hear /A/ say, “Jump on the train.” If you don’t hear /A/ say, “No claps for you.” Is it in mart, rain, poet, boot, brain, hens? [Have children make a oval motion around their pursed lips when they feel /A/ say its name.]

 3. What if I want to spell the word pain? “If I fall on the playground I will be in pain.” Pain means hurt in this sentence. To spell pain in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /p//A//n/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /A/ just before the /n/ so I’m going to put an ai in the 3rd box. The word starts with /p/, that’s easy; I need an p. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with brain on the top and

model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the ai; that part says /A/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: b-r-ai, /brA/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /brA-n/. Oh, brain, like “I have a very big brain.”

  4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with three boxes for gain. A gain is when you get something extra or more, “My pet went to the vet and he gained 5 lbs.” I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [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/ and don’t forget to put the signal silent i beside the a, in the same box.  Here’s the word: main, The main sport I like to play is soccer. [Allow children to spell remaining words, giving sentences for each word: train, rain, stain, again, and pain.] 

5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [Show the words train, rain, pain, gain, main, again, the extra words stain and brain, and the pseudoword bain. Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6. Say: You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /A/: ai. Now we are going to read a book called The Train Trip. This is a story about a boy named Nate who is getting to go on a train ride to see his friend Jan. Nate is carrying a special gray package with an animal in it. The railroad messes up and the train has to stop. Nate is afraid that he will not get to his friend in time. What do you think is in the gray package? Do you think the railroad will be fixed? Do you think that he will make it in time to see Jan? You will have to read the story to find out!

 7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /A/ = ai 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 paint buckets, and decide which word has ai in it. Once you find the words with ai in it that make the A sound color them green. Double check your work to make sure you got them all right! [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.] Then as the child turns their paper in, I will have all of them read the ai words to me.


Open wide and say O-o-o-o-o-o. by Brittany Williams

Murray, G. (2007) The Train Trip. Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/bookindex.html 

Assessment worksheet: http://www.free-phonics-worksheets.com/html/phonics_worksheet_v2-01.html

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