AAAAAAHH! You Scared Me!!

Beginning Reading Lesson Plan

Shanley Hicks

Rationale: As a beginning reader, it is important for students to learn the correspondences between letters and sounds. Short vowels are especially hard to learn; therefore, it is especially important for students to have explicit instruction and practice with short vowels. This lesson will help students to learn to recognize and read the correspondence that a = /a/. The students will learn the correspondence a = /a/ by making a memorable connection to the correspondence in written and spoken words by learning and practicing sounds with a tongue tickler, reading A Cat Nap, and participating in a letterbox lesson. 


1 Chart with a tongue twister: "The awesome antelope asked Annie about apples"

1 Dry erase board with marker

Letterboxes for each student and letters preselected for each student {a, b, c, d, f, h, k, l, n, p, r, s, t}

A Cat Nap, copy for each student

Primary paper and pencils per student


1) Introduce the lesson by telling the children that our written language is a secret code that we have to figure out in order to read. Also, explain to children that each letter has its very own mouth movement and sound and today we are going to be learning about the letter /a/.

2) Ask the students: Has anyone ever jumped out and scared you? What is one of the first things that you do? You scream and say aaaaaaaaaaa!!! Well that is what the letter a says. It says aaaaaa and we are going to help remember this by placing our hands on our face, like we are scared, when we see the letter a. What else happens when we say aaaaa! What does our mouth do? (model, by saying aaaaa) Well, I’m scared, so my mouth is a little bit wide, but when I say the sound /a/, my mouth is pretty relaxed. My jaw is open, and the air just comes right out… aaaaaa!

3) I have a tricky tongue twister we are going to say with our new sound in it. I'm going to say it first and you all listen to all the /a/ sounds that you hear. "The alligator asked Alex for apples." Did everyone hear our special sound? I’m going to say it again slowly, and whenever you hear me say scared /a/ I want you to put your hand on your face like you’re scared! Good! Now let's say it together "The alligator asked Alex for apples." Great! Now let's say it again but pay extra close attention to the /a/ sound and let's stretch that sound out when we hear it. I want us to say it all together, dragging out the scared /a/ aaaaa sound! Also when you say the /a/ sound, put your hands to your face like you would do if you were scared.

4) Now give each child primary paper and a pencil. Demonstrate how to make an A on a dry erase board marked with the primary practice lines (fence, sidewalk, ditch), and then have the children make one on their own paper. Go around and check while they are doing this. Have them write 5 more for practice. To bring the group back together, have everyone write it in the air with their finger 3 times.  

5) Now we are going to do our letterbox lesson. Have the children pull out their letterboxes and letters that have already been sorted for them. WE will do the first one together, let's spell flat. What do we think should go in the first box? F, that's right. (Put an F in the box on the board.) Now what goes next? What is the sound we hear?L, correct! What is the next sound?A, good job! What next?T, great! Repeat this process with these words: flag, crack, clap, crash, blank, and strand. Make sure to remind them that the boxes are for the sounds of a word, not the letters. Make sure to give each student the time they need to make the words. While the children are making their words, be sure to walk around and observe what they are doing.

6) Tell the students that they are going to read a book full of words that make the /a/ sound. Hand out a copy of A Cat Nap to each child. Tell the students this story is about a cat named Tab. Tab is a fat cat who likes to nap in a bag. Sam is the man who owns Tab. Sam plays baseball. Sam has a bat in his bag. To find out if Tab is near by, you need to read the book. Have the children pair up, you may let them choose or choose their partners for them. Have them read it through once to each other, where one student reads 1 page, the other student reads the next. Walk around and observe their reading. Then let them read it again and if they hear the /a/ sound, they can make the motion of putting their hands on their face to act like they are scared. This will be a way to assess the children to see if they understand the sound.

7) Assessment can also be done by giving the children a worksheet with words with /a/ sounds and some without and then ask the children to circle the words that have the /a/ sound. For the ones they have circled, they will fill in the letter a in the missing blank. All the pictures will have the word printed below, with a missing vowel. For all the pictures they’ve circled that have /a/ in it, they will have to fill in the letter a. Example: H__ t below picture of hat. I will collect these worksheets for an individual assessment.


A Cat Nap. Educational Insights, 1990.

Laura Slocum,Ahhhhhhh! Stop the Crying Baby.

Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.

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