Aaaaaaaa!!! I Want Ice Cream!

A Beginning Reading Lesson

Turquoise Dillard

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence a=/a/. As a beginning reader, it is important for students to learn the correspondences between letters and sounds. In this lesson children will learn to distinguish, spell, and read words containing the letter a. The students will also learn a meaningful illustration (baby crying saying Aaaa!); they will use this memorable connection to the correspondence in written and spoken language. The students will also use this correspondence in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a= /a/.


·         Graphic image of baby crying

·         Individual letterboxes (Elkonin Boxes) for the students

·         Individual picture pages: (cat, bag, jam, man, hat, crab, hand) with the correct number of letterboxes underneath the picture

·         Individual letter tiles for the students (a, m, c, t, s, d, h, g, r, b, l, n, k, p, s, r)

·         Teacher letterboxes and letter tiles

·         Individual copies of A Cat Nap  for the students and teacher

·         Primary paper and pencil for student



1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that letters represent different sounds in written words. In order to become excellent readers, we must learn how to match the letter to their sounds. When I say /a/ I think of a baby crying for ice cream this will be the perfect time to show the graphic image of the baby crying. Explain to the students that once they begin to understand the /a/ sound, they will be able to read and spell all kinds of words with short /a/.

2. Ask the students: Have you ever heard a babying crying aloud? What does the baby crying and screaming sound like when you hear it?  When babies cry they scream and say Aaaaaa! The sound of a baby crying makes the short /a/ sound. It says Aaaaaa and we are going to remember this by making a crying noise whenever we see the letter /a/. [Have children act like they’re crying like a baby to make the /a/ sound.

3. Have students find letter a in some words in this silly tongue twister.”Alice asked Adam for an apple”. Everybody say it aloud together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the a at the   beginning of each word that starts with a and think about the sound you make when you open your mouth wide and say”Aaa”.

4. Now give each student a set of letterboxes as well as the appropriate letter tiles. Tell the students that they are going to be working with letterboxes and letter tiles to spell out some words with short a. “Now we are going to practice using our knowledge of the /a/ sound to spell words. What if I wanted to spell the word cat? I am going to start with the first sound that I hear in cat. Ccccat, I hear the /k/ sound. I will place the letter c in the first letterbox. The next sound I hear is Caaaat, /a/ there is the crying baby /a/ sound. Now I will place the phoneme a in my second letterbox. Now the last sound I hear is Cattt, /t/. I hear the /t/ sound, which means I will place the letter t in the last letterbox. Now I have made the word cat using letter tiles.

5. Now I want you to try to spell some words using your letterboxes and letter tiles and use the same method that I just modeled. The teacher should also have a word list ready for the students to spell that have the phonemes /a/ in it. As, the teacher call out a word, the students will put the letters in their boxes that they have in front of them. This way they will know how many boxes to have ready. Start out easy with two boxes for “at”. “Look at that cat.” What should go in the first box? (Respond to the children’s answers). What goes in the second box? Check the student’s progress while walking around the room. (Observe progress) You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sounds to spell in the first box. Now listen for the /a/ sound in bat. “Look at the bat in the sky.” (Allow students to spell remaining words: cat, jam, van, mat, pan, flat, and clap.)

6.  Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. Have the students read words in harmony. Afterwards call on individuals to read one word on the list until everybody has had a turn.

7.  Say: Now we are going to read a book called A Cat Nap. (Hand out a copy of “A Cat Nap” to each student). Give a short book talk. 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 where Tab is while Sam plays baseball, you need to read. Let’s pair up and take turns reading A Cap Nap to find out where Tab is. Students pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress.

8. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about the short /a/ sound, I want to complete a worksheet with some missing words so you solve a reading problem. Your job is to look in the box of word choices, and decide what word fits the pictures. First try reading all of the words in the box, then choose the word that fits best in the space. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. (Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.)



Sullivan, Sarah “The Scary Letter….aaaaaaaaa!


Cushman, Sheila A Cat Nap. Educational Insights, 1990.

Murray, G. (2004) Jakes joke. Reading Genie:

 2009 Lanternfish ESL

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