Say Aaaaaa!

Beginning Reading
Stephanie Thomson

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence a = /a/. In order to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In the following lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling a. They will learn a meaningful representation (saying "aaaaa" when the doctor asks to open your mouth), they will spell words containing a= /a/ in a Letterbox Lesson, and they will read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a = /a/.


- Image of child saying "Aaaaa" with a doctor looking in child's mouth

- Cover-up critter

- Whiteboard or SmartBoard

- Elkonin boxes for modeling

- Elkonin boxes for each student

- Letter manipulatives for each child: a,t,l,p,b,r,g,c,n,k,s,h

- Magnetic or SmartBoard letters for teacher: a,t,l,p,b,r,g,c,n,k,s,h

- List of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: at, lap, brag, clan, black, trash

- Decodable text: Lad and the Fat Cat (geniebook)

- Assessment worksheet             


1) Say: "In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Today we are going to learn about short a and how we move our mouths in order to say /a/. When I say /a/ I think of the sound you make when the doctor asks you to open your mouth, "Aaaaaa . . ." [show graphic image]. How do we represent this sound with a spelling? We use the letter a to spell /a/."

2) Say: "Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I say /a/in words, air is released from my mouth, and my jaw and tongue drop- my mouth is open like I'm showing the doctor my tonsils. [Make vocal gesture for /a/.] I'll show you first: hat. I heard /a/ and I felt the air being pushed out of my mouth, my jaw and tongue dropping and my mouth opening to make /a/. If you place your hand in front of your mouth you will notice the warm air being released when you say words that have /a/ in their pronunciation. There is a short a in bat. Now I'm going to see if it's in the word base. I heard /A/ not /a/, and I didn't feel the air being released from my mouth, nor did my jaw fully drop and my mouth fully open. Now you try. If you hear /a/ in the word that I say, then you say,"Aaaaaa!" If you don't hear /a/ say, shake your head no. Is it in sat, sand, say, had?" [Have students open their mouth to show the doctor their tonsils if they hear /a/.]

3) Say: "What if I want to spell the word pass? I am going to pass by you. To spell pass in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count the sounds that I hear: /p//a//ss/. I need three boxes because I hear three sounds when I stretch the word out. I heard /a/ just before the /ss/ so I'm going to put an a in the 3rd box because /ss/ is the very last sound I hear so we know the letters that represent that sound must go in the very last box. The word starts with /p/; that's easy, I need a p. Now what? Let's see:  /p//a//ss/. After we hear /p/, you can hear that /a/, so we have to put the a in the right box by placing it in the 3rd box. What goes in our last box? We have two letters left in the word, but we can only hear one more sound after /a/ when we stretch the word out: /p/ /a/ /ss/ [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /p//a//ss/.] So, I put both of the s in the last box because they make the /s/ in pass. Now I'll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with track on the top and model reading the word.] I'm going to start with the a; that part says /a/. Now I'm going to put the beginning letters with it: t-r, /chr/ a /a/ ck /k/. Now I'll put that chunk together with the last sound, tr-a-ck. Oh, track. I track the amount of points that I receive."

4) Say:" Now I'm going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You'll start out with two boxes for the word at. Like, "I was playing at the park". What should go in the first box? [Respond to children's answers]. What goes in the second box? I'll check your spelling while I walk around the room. Start your spelling by find the /a/ sound in the word I give you because we know that /a/ is spelled using the letter a. [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/.The word is lap, "I sit on my grandma's lap." [Allow children to spell remaining words: 4-brag, 4-clan, 4-black, 4-trash.]

5) Say: "Now I am going to let you read the words you've spelled." [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list. You will do this until everyone has had a turn.]

6) Say: "You've done a great job reading words that have the sound /a/, spelled with the letter a. Now we are going to read a book called Lad and the Fat Cat. Lad wants to take a nap on his mat but someone is already there and she won't move. Maybe his growls will convince her she needs to find her own mat. You will have to read to find out!" [Children pair up and take turns reading every other page while the teacher walks around the classroom and observes/monitors the progress. After individual paired reading time, the class rereads A Cat' Nap together aloud and stops after every page to discuss the plot.]

7) Say: "To finish up our lesson about the sound /a/ spelled using the letter a, I want you to complete this worksheet. On the worksheet you have to identify the picture, spell the word by connecting the appropriate letters that make up the spelling, and write out the correct spelling of the word. After you've written the word, I want you to read the word to a partner and check to see if they got the same answer by listening to them read the word that they got. Reread your answers to see if they make sense." [Teachers will collect the worksheets to assess the students' knowledge and understanding of /a/ spelled using the letter a].


Plier, Sarah. "My allergies are acting up . . . AAAAchooo!"

Murray, Geri. Lad and the Fat Cat. Reading Genie website

Assessment Worksheet:

Google Image:

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