Emergent Literacy Design: The Baby Cries aaaa

By: Maggie Dean


Rationale: This rationale will help children identify /a/, the phoneme represented by A. Students will learn to recognize /a/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (rubbing eyes like a crying baby) and the letter symbol for A, practice finding /a/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /a/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Alice asked Adam for an apple”; Eiffel Tower picture; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss’s ABC; word cards with WASH, MASK, MEAN, CAN, TOWEL, and FLASH; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /a/ (URL below).


Procedures: 1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we’re going to work on spotting the mouth move /a/. We spell /a/ with the letter A. A looks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris (show picture), and /a/ sounds like a baby crying.


2. Let’s pretend to cry like a baby (rub beside eyes with fists), /a/, /a/, /a/. Notice where your jaw and tongue is? (Down). When we say /a/, we lift the middle of our tongue and push it forward and into our bottom teeth a little bit.


3. Let me show you how to find /a/ in the word lap. I’m going to stretch lap out in super slow motion and listen for the crying baby. Lll-a-a-ap. Slower: Lll-a-a-a-p. There is was! I felt my tongue barely push into my bottom teeth. I can feel the crying baby /a/ in lap.


4. Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart). “Alice asked Adam for an apple.” Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /a/ at the beginning of the words. “Aaalice aaasked Aaadam for aaan aaapple.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/a/ lice  /a/ sked  /a/ dam  for  /a/ n  /a/ pple.


5. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil). We use letter A to spell /a/. Capital A looks like the Eiffel Tower. Let’s write the lowercase letter a. Start under the fence. Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down. I want to see everybody’s a. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /a/ in walk or run? Sit or stand? Bat or glove? Band or sing? Cat or dog? Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /a/ in some words. Rub your eyes and cry like a baby if you hear /a/: For, hand, flag, bird, sack, pan, on, the, blue, splash.


7. Say: “Let’s look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about an animal whose name starts with A. Can you guess?” Read page 1, drawing out /a/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /a/. Ask them if they can name another animal whose name starts with an /a/, like aaanteater, or aaant. Then have each student write the names of the animals they come up with using invented spelling and draw a picture of that animal. Display their work.


8. Show WASH and model how to decide if it is wash or wish. The A tells me to cry like a baby, /a/, so this word is w-aaa-sh. You try some: MASK: mask or monster? MEAN: glad or mean? CAN: can or bottle? TOWEL: towel or sand? FLASH: flash or slow?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to draw a line from the astronaut to the items that begin with the short vowel sound A, and then color those items. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.


Assessment worksheet: http://kidzone.ws/kindergarten/vowels/a-begins1.htm


Catherine Edwards, “Baaaa!” Said the lamb. http://www.auburn.edu/~cce0004/edwardsel.htm


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