Acrobatic Adam!


Beginning Reading Design


Rachel Carter


Rationale: For children to become better readers they must first master the short vowel sounds because of their prevalence in the English language. This lesson will help children recognize the short vowel a=/a/ sound while reading words.



          Index cards with the words: sat, back, act, slap, raft, front, boat, still, hug

          Letterboxes that fold out into four squares – one set for each child

          Individual letters for each child – s, a, t, b, r, c, l, p, f

          Primary paper and pencils

          List of pseudowords for teacher (yad, pav, lat, baft)



          Acrobatic Adam puppet or sock puppet



1) Introduce the lesson by writing the letter a on the chalkboard.  "Can anyone tell me what letter this is?  Now here's a tougher question.  Does anyone know what sound the letter a makes?  Well, the letter 'a' makes a sound like a crying baby.  You can hear the /a/ sound in A-a-a-a-a-c-tion (Model the opening of a crying baby when you are stretching out the /a/ sound).  Let's all try saying the word action and pretend like we are a crying baby when we hear the /a/ sound."


2)"Have you ever been to the circus?  Well, this is an acrobat, Adam.  He is going to help us learn the /a/ sound today.  When Adam's mouth opens up like this (models) he is saying the /a/ sound.  Let's all say this tongue twister together.  While we are saying it let's think about the way our mouth moves when we say the /a/ sound.  I will model it for you first and then we will do it together.  Acrobatic Adam has acted many actions.  Now let's do it together!"


3) "Let's say the tongues twister again, but this time let's stretch out the /a/ sound.  Each time we hear the /a/ sound Adam's mouth will open like this, I will give him a high five.  Whenever you hear the /a/ sound I want you to do your "crying baby" motion.  Aaaacrobaaatic Aaaadam haaaas aaaacted many aaaactions. Good job!"


4) "Now I want to see if you can pick out the /a/ sound in spoken words.  I am going to hold up two cards with one word on each card.  I want one of you to tell me which one has the /a/ sound in it."  Hold up the pictures back & front and say the word of each.  "Can anyone tell me which one has the /a/ sound in it?  Back is right!  Very good!"  Repeat this with the rest of the word pairs (raft/boat, act/still, slap/hug)


5) Give each student a set of letterboxes and the lower case letter to use with them.  Make sure each student has the letters a, t, s, l, p, r, f, b, c.  "Now we are going to use our letterboxes to spell out some words.  Now remember that each box represents one and only one mouth move.  I will show you an example and then I want you to do them on your own when I say the word.  When I say /c/ /r/ /a/ /ck/ each letter/sound goes in one letter box (model this on the overhead projector).  See how I used one box for each of the three sounds.  It's your turn to try on your own now."  Call out each of these words one at a time, allowing the students enough time to complete each word.  Walk around and monitor the students as they do this activity to see how each student understands the concept.  After each word, model the correct spelling on the overhead projector and then move on to the next word.  After the students have spelled all the words spell the words on the projector without the letterboxes and have the students read the words out loud as a class.


6) Introduce the book A Cat Nap.  "It's time to read a really fun book that is going to help us learn the /a/ sound. The book is called A Cat Nap


  Book Talk:  "Sam has a cat that is very sneaky! His cat likes to climb in his baseball bag when he isn't looking! Let's read to find out what Sam's cat does!"


7) Give each student a copy of the book and say, "I want everyone to read the book all by yourself.  When you are done I want you to get with a buddy and read the book to each other." 


8) Once everyone is done reading have them write a message about what they would do if they found their cat in their bag




Boggs, Adrienne.  "E's are E-E-E-Excellent."


Choron, Anna. Siiiiiilly Sid."


Sumlin, Jenna. "When is Ed fed?"


Murray, B.a., and Lesniak, t. (1999) The Letterbox Lesson:  A hand on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

A Cat Nap, Educational Insights.


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