“Aaaa! I’m Scared!” Says Short A

Beginning Reading Design


  Jennifer Russell




This lesson introduces beginning reading students to vowel correspondences beginning with short a, a=/a/. In order for students to read, they must learn and understand vowel correspondences. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the short vowel correspondence, a=/a/. They will learn how to use a meaningful gesture (throw arms up like a scared child yelling “Aaaa!”) and a tongue twister “Alice screamed “Aaaa!” as the alligator smacked and snapped”, spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a=/a/.




 Graphic image of child screaming, tongue tickler: "Alice screamed “Aaaa!” as the alligator smacked and snapped.", elkonin boxes, letter manipulatives (a,b,c,d,g,k,l,m,n,p,r,s,t), spelling words on cards (ad, bag, cat, crab, snag, pant, clap, crash, blast), Nat the Cat, pencils, assessment worksheet (link below), ELMO




1.Introduce Vowel with Meaningful Gesture. Say: In order to become great readers, we need to learn and understand vowels. We see vowels when we s ee a,e,i,o, or u. They are special because they make a few different sounds. When we pronounce words, we give a lot of importance to the vowels. Today we are going to learn about the vowel short a, a=/a/. Short a says /a/. Say it with me, /a/. When I say /a/, I think of someone screaming with their hands up like they just got scared! “Aaaa!”. (Show Graphic Image) Let’s all pretend we just saw something scary and scream (quietly) with our hands up. “Aaaa!” What is your mouth doing when you say /a/? That’s right, we just hold it open and let our voices do the work!


2. Tongue Tickler. Say: We’re going to use this tongue tickler to practice /a/. When I say /a/, my mouth is open and my tongue stays on

  the bottom of my mouth and we let our voices do the work (Show the tongue tickler to the students.) I want you to listen to me first, “Alice screamed “Aaaa!” as the alligator smacked and snapped”.  Now, let’s practice together (repeat with students two times) Do you

hear the /a/ sound? I hear /a/ at the beginning of Alice. Throw your hands up in the air like you are scared when you hear the /a/ in these

words: as, alligator, smacked, snapped. Great job! I saw a lot of scared hands going up! We are going to say the tongue tickler again, but

  this time we are going to stretch out the /a/ sound. “Aaaaalice screamed “Aaaa!” aaaas the aaaalligator smaaaacked and snaaaaapped”.

3.  Modeling a Letterbox Lesson with ELMO Say: Now we are going to practice spelling words with the /a/ sound. If I want to spell the

word “ad”, I need to know how many phonemes (letter sounds) I hear in the word so I stretch it out and count with my fingers,  /a/ /d/,

“ad”. I counted two, so I will need to use two boxes. I heard /a/ at the beginning, so I am going to put a in the first box. Next, I heard /d/.

I am going to put that in the second box. Now that I have a letter in each box, I am going to move the letters off the boxes and put them

 together so I can read the word. I am going to sound out each letter and then blend them together. /a/ /d/ “aaaad”.


4. Student LBL Spelling Say: Now its your turn to spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start with the word “bag”. How many boxes do we need for “bag”. /b//a//g/. Three, that's right. What should go in the first box? second? third? I’ll check your spelling and help you while I walk around the room. (Have children also spell the words: cat, crab, snag, pant, clap, crash, blast).


5. Student LBL Readings Say: Now I want you to use the words you spelled and practice reading them to me. I will come around the room. (Afterwards, have the students read all the words together as a class from the word cards using the ELMO.)


6. Decodable Book Reading Say: You’ve done a great job spelling reading words with a = /a/. Now we are going to read a book called Nat the Cat. This story is about a fat black cat named Nat. Nat is a happy cat, especially when he has a full belly. One day he finishes all the milk in his bowl, but he is unhappy because he is still hungry. Nat goes looking for some more to eat. Do you ever think he will find more food and have a full belly? Lets read to find out what happens. (Have all the students pair up to take turns reading the book. Walk around the room and monitor the students’ progress. After everyone finishes reading, read through the book as a class. Discuss the plot of the story as you read the book as a class.)


7. Assessment: Say: Now that you have learned the short a vowel, you are going to practice working with it on this worksheet. You have a picture for each word, and you will have to choose the letters you need to make the word. You will choose the letters you need and connect them by drawing a line. Then you will practice writing the short a word. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual student’s progress].






Anna Day, Ahhh!” Screams the Boy on the Rollercoaster


Nicole Lawyer, Aaaaa . . . There’s a Spider!



Murray, Bruce. Making Sight Words: Teaching Sight Words from Phoneme Awareness to Fluency. 1st ed. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Publications, 2012. 380. Print.


Nat the Cat by Cindy Garrett



Assessment Worksheet. http://www.funfonix.com/book1/ffonix_book1_2.gif


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