Awesome A!

Beginning Reading

Yvonne Flanary

Rationale: Children learn about spoken language through reading and writing. Children need to have phonemic awareness in order to learn how to read and write. This lesson is designed to help children identify and understand /a/ one of the short vowel phonemes they need when learning to spell words. For this activity, the students will spell words in a letterbox lesson containing a=/a/ and read a decodable book  called Jack  the Cat.

Materials: Elkonin Boxes: letter manipulatives for h,t,c,r,a,b,l,k,s,g,: decodable book; Jack the Cat, worksheet with pictures missing /a/ .

This worksheet can be found at worksheets/letterA.htm.

The words for the letter box lesson are hat, black, glass, and grass.


1. Say, "In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code for how to pronounce words. Good readers need to recognize letters and the sounds they make. Today we get to learn about short /a/. When I say /a/ I think of a baby crying saying "Aaaaa, Aaaaa, Aaaaa!" (show image) Can you say that with me? How do you 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. I look just like a baby crying!" [Make vocal gesture for /a/.] The students will also get a turn to make the vocal gesture.

3. Say, "Boys and girls, I am going to say a funny sentence that has a lot of words in it containing /a/. When I have finished, I would like for you to say it with me!" "Allie's alligators asked for an apple." "Now, boys and girls, I would like for you to try it, and as you are saying it, stretch your mouth open wide just like a baby does when he is crying."

4. 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.  We are going to practice using our knowledge of the /a/ sound to spell words. What if I wanted to spell the word hat? I would need to use three boxes for this word. I am going to start with the /a/ sound that I hear in hat. I hear aaaaa, and it sounds just like a baby crying! I will place the letter /a/ in the second letterbox. Now, when we say the word hat, I hear the sound that letter h makes and letter t. Let's say the word together, "hhhhaaaaatttt." We will now put these letters in the Elkonin box and make the word hat!  Now I have made the word hat using letter tiles.

5. Say," I want you to try to spell some words using your letterboxes and letter tiles and use the same method that I just modeled. I will call out the words very slowly and make sure that I speak clearly enough so that each sound is recognizable as I am saying it."

6. Say, "Once you have practiced making words with your letter tiles, say the words to yourself and to the person sitting next to you."

7. Say, "We are going to read a book called Jack the Cat." Have student' choose a partner to practice reading with. Pass out books for the reading partners to share. Before the students begin reading the story, give a few minor details about the story to spark their interest in reading. For example: "This is about a cat named Jack who wants to help his other animal friends, but they will not let him. What would you do if Jack wanted to help you? Will Jack ever find a friend?"

8. Say, "Before we finish up with our lesson about the short /a/ sound, I will have you complete a worksheet where you look at the picture and decide if the picture begins with /a/. If the picture begins with /a/, then write the letter a. If the picture does not begin with /a/, then do not write anything next to the word.     


Dillard, Turquoise Aaaaaaaa!!! I Want Ice Cream!


Assessment Worksheet

(Short A Little Sound)


Mills, Emily Jack the Cat


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