Beginning Reading Design: Aye! How are you today?

By: Molly Newton

Rationale: This lesson will help children learn the long vowel correspondence a_e=/A/. In order to be able to read words with this correspondence, students must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. They will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the a_e correspondence. They will learn a meaningful representation (man waving as if saying, “Aye!”), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a_e=/A/.

Materials: Graphic image of man waving; cover-up critter; document camera and Elkonin boxes for modeling; individual Elkonin letterboxes for each student; letter manipulatives for the teacher and each child: a, c, e, g, h, k, l, m, p, r, t, v, z; list of spelling words to place under the document camera for students to read: ale, maze, hag, rake, lame, pack, cave, grape, plate, grade, mast, klade; decodable text James and the Good Day, and assessment worksheet (URL referenced).


1.    Say: There is a code that tells us how to pronounce words. In order to become expert readers we need to learn that code. You’ve already learned how to read short vowel words with a, like map. Today we are going to work on learning long A and the silent e signal that is used to make A say its name, /A/. When I hear /A/ I think of a man waving and saying “Aye! How are you?” (show graphic image). One way to spell /A/ is with the letter a and the silent signal e at the end of the word that tells me to say A’s name. (Write a_e on a piece of paper under the document camera.) The blank line between the a and e means a consonant comes after a. Notice the silent e signal at the end which tells me that a says its name.

2.    Before we learn how to spell /A/ we need to be able to hear it in some words. When I listen for /A/ in words, I hear /A/ say its name. My mouth almost looks like I am smiling when I say /A/, but my mouth is open just a little. (Demonstrate the /A/ mouth movement.) I hear a long A in made. I wonder if long A is in track. Hmm… I hear cry baby a, short a. I didn’t hear a say its name. Now it’s time for you to try! If you hear /A/ say its name say, “Aye! How are you?” and wave. If you don’t hear /A/ say, “Long a isn’t here.” Is it in wane, hint, pest, rage, crab, fake? 

3.    If I wanted to spell the word same, where would I start? “He and I have the same notebook.” Same means matching. To spell the word same, I need to know how many phonemes are in the word so I can decide how many letterboxes to use. I’m going to stretch out the word and count: /s//A//m/. I heard 3 phonemes, which means I need 3 boxes. I heard the /A/ sound after the /s/ sound so I am going to put a in the 2nd letterbox and the silent e signal outside the last box since it just signals without a sound. The word starts with /s/. You all know that letter! I need an s. Now I have my a for the long a sound. The last sound is /m/. I hear the letter m here. Let’s say all of these sounds slowly and make sure we spelled it correctly. (Stretch the word out and blend phonemes together to read the word same.)
Now I’ll show you how to read a tough word. (Write the word blade on the paper under the document camera.) I’m going to start with the a_e because I know that long a can be spelled with a_e. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: b-l-a_e, /blA/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /d/. /blA-d/. Oh! Blade, like “I found a blade of grass in my floor.”

4.    I think you are ready to spell some words in letterboxes. Let’s start easy with two boxes for ale. An ale is a type of drink. “I to drink ginger ale in punch at weddings.” Remember to put silent e outside off the letterboxes! I’ll check your spelling as I walk around the room. (Observe progress.) Let’s move to 3 letterboxes. Listen for the beginning sounds to spell in the first box. Then listen for /A/ and don’t forget to put signal e at the end, outside the boxes. The next word is maze. “My favorite puzzle is a maze; maze.” (Give a sentence for each of the next words: hag, rake, lame, pack, cave, grape, plate.

5.    Now I’m going to let you read the words that you spelled. (Display ale, maze, hag, rake, lame, pack, cave, grape, and plate along with extra words grade and mast and pseudoword klade. Have children read words in unison. Afterwords, I will have each child read one word from the list until everyone has had a turn and/or all the words have been read.)

6.    You’ve done a great job reading long a words with our new a_e spelling. Now we’re going to read a book called James and the Good Day. This is a story of a boy James who wakes up so excited to have a good day. He wants to play with his boat in the tub so he goes to fill up the bathtub to make a lake for his boat. James is so ready to start his good day that he leaves the bathroom and forgets to turn the water off. Let’s pair up and take turns reading James and the Good Day to find out if James remembers to turn the water off and still has a good day. (Children will read in pairs as the teacher walks around the classroom monitoring progress. After everyone has finished reading, the class will reread James and the Good Day chorally, stopping between page turns to discuss what is happening in the story.)

7.    Before we finish talking about how to spell long a with a_e, I want to see how well you remember words with the silent e signal. On this worksheet, we have sentences with /A/ words in them. Your job is to find the long a words, circle them, and then write them on the line beside the sentence. Read the words aloud as you write them. Make sure you remember to look for the silent e signal. (Individual progress will be monitored when students read the words aloud as they write them.)


·         Geri Murray Oh, I Didn’t Know! A Beginning Reading Lesson

·         Cushman, S. & Kornblum, R. James and the Good Day. Educational Insights, Carson CA., 1990.

Assessment worksheet:

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