Aaaaaa, This Is Scary!!

Beginning Reading

Jana Pitman



Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the vowel correspondence a=/a/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling a. They will learn a meaningful representation (scared person saying Aaaa!!), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a=/a/.



Materials: Graphic image of a scared person; cover up critter; individual letter boxes for teacher and students; letter manipulatives for each child and letters for teacher; list of spellings words on chart paper: cat, map, pan, trap, slap, stack; chart with tongue twister: "Andrew and Alice asked if Anna's ants were angry;" decodable text: Lad and the Fat Cat; primary paper; pencils; and assessment worksheet.  




1. Say: "In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Each letter has its very own mouth movement and sound. We are going to be learning about "a" says /a/ today. When you're scared, what is the first thing you say? I know I say "aaaaa!!!" I want everyone to show me his or her scared face! Those are some very scary faces! I want you to make sure you mouth is wide open and your hands are on your faces! Lets all say /a/ while we make our scared faces. That's great!"


2. Say: "Before we learn about the spelling of /a/, we need t listen for it in some words. When I listen for /a/ in words, I hear a say its name /a/ and my mouth opens big and wide. [Make vocal gesture for /a/.] My jaw and tongue are also down. I'll show you first: mat. I heard a say its name and I felt my mouth open wide. There is a short a in mat. Now I'm going to see if it's in pail. I didn't hear a say its name and my mouth didn't open that wide. Now you try. If you hear /a/ say, "aaaa, this is scary!" if you don't hear /a/ say, "This isn't scary!" Is it in pat, rain, pants, cap, nose, mouth?" 


3. Say: "I have a tricky tongue tickler we are going to say that has our sound /a/ in it. I'm going to say it first and you all listen for the /a/ sound. "Andrew and Alice asked if Anna's active ants were angry." Raise our hand if you heard out special sound! Good job! Now lets say it all together ""Andrew and Alice asked if Anna's active ants were angry." Great! Lets say it one more time and really drag out the /a/ sound. Every time we hear the /a/ sound lets make our scared face. Aaaandrew and Aaaalice aaaasked if Aaaanna's aaaants were aaaangry."


4. Say: "Now lets look at the spelling of /a/ that well learn today. To make the /a/ sound, the a is written without any other vowels and is surrounded by consonants. [Write a on the board with a black before and after it.] This blank lines here means there is a consonant before and after a. What if I want to spell the word cat? "The cat meowed until he got his food." To spell cat in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /c/ /a/ /t/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /a/ just before the /t/ so I'm going to put an a in the 2nd box. The word starts with /c/; I need a c. I think I heard /t/ so ill put a t right after the a.


5. Say: "Now I'm going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You'll start out easy with three boxes for map. "Our teachers gave us a map to find the continents." What should go in the first box? [Respond to children's answers.] What goes in the second box? What goes in the third box? I'll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You'll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that goes in the first box. Then listen for /a/.  Here is the word: pan, I help mom cook dinner in the pan; pan. [Allow children to spell words.] Time to check your work. Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board: p-a-n, and see if you've spelled it the same way. Try another with four boxes: trap; I put cheese in the mousetrap. [Have volunteer spell it in the letterbox on the front board for children to check their work. Repeat this step for each word.] Next word. Listen to see if this word has /a/ in it before you spell it: slap; I slap down the cards when I win. [Allow children to spell words and check their work.] Now lets try another word with 4 phonemes; stack; I made a big stack of blocks. One more then we're done with spelling, and this tie you need 5 boxes: draft; I wrote a draft before my final paper. Remember to stretch it out to get this tough word."  


6.  Say: "Now I am going to let you read the words you've spelled, but first ill show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with draft on the top and model reading the word.] First I see there's an a in the middle of the word; that's my signal that the vowel will say its sound /a/. I'm going to use a cover-up to get the first part. [Uncover and blend sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.] /d//r/=/dr/+/a/=/dra/. Now all I need is the end, /f//t/=/draft/. Draft; that's it. Now it's your turn, everyone together. [Have children read words unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]


7. Say: "You've done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /a/. Now we are going to read a book called A Cat Nap. This is a story of a cat named Tab. Tab is very fat and likes to nap in a bag. Sam owns Tab and likes to play baseball. Lets pair up and take turns reading A Cat Nap to find out what Sam and Tab like to do together. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads A Cat Nap aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss.]" 


8.  Say: "That was a fun story. Before we finish up with out lesson about one way to spell /a/=a, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, we have lots of pictures. You need to spell the word that goes next to each picture. First connect the letters that make up the word. Then use those letters to write the word next to the picture. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual progress.] 



Murray, Geri, "Oh, I don't know!"

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

Assessment worksheet:


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