Beginning Reading Design

Baaaaaa Goes the Sheep


Beginning Reading Lesson Design


Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence a = /a/. In order to be able to read, students have to be able to recognize the letters and their sounds. Vowels are the most important phonemes that children can learn because they are found in every word. This lesson will teach students how to distinguish the /a/ sound in spoken words, practice spelling the /a/ sound by using Elkonin boxes, and identify and decode the /a/ sound in written text.

Materials: Picture of a sheep; dry erase board and marker; Elkonin boxes and letter tiles; Primary paper and pencil, Copies of the book A Cat Nap


1.  Say: “In order to become exceptional readers, we have to learn how to match letters to the sounds they make. Today we are going to focus on the letter a and the /a/ sound. As you start to recognize that a makes the /a/ sound, you will be able to not only read, but also spell all sorts of different words.”

2.  Say: “Now I want you to take out your dry erase board and write the letter a on the it.  The letter a makes the /a/ sound. Have any of you ever heard the sound a sheep makes? Don’t they make the sound baaaaa? Let’s all act like sheep and say baaaaa. This is the same /a/ sound that the letter a makes. Touch your throat when you make the /a/ sound. Did you notice the sound vibrate in your throat and did you notice that your mouth is open when you make the /a/ sound?”

3.  Say: “Next, we are going to look at a tongue tickler. The tongue tickler is, Alex and Ashley ate all of Adam’s applesauce. Now let's all read it together. I want you to point to each word as you say it. ‘Alex and Ashley ate all of Adam’s applesauce.’ Now, whenever you hear the /a/ sound, I want you to say it like a sheep would. ‘Aaaaalex and Aaaaashley ate all of Aaaaadam’s aaaaapplesauce.’ Raise you hand if you can tell me a word that has the /a/ sound in it. Let’s practice picking out the /a/ sound in spoken words. Do you hear the /a/ sound in pass or throw Clap or hit?  Cat or dog?  Rat or mouse? Bat or bit?”

4.  Say: “Take out a pencil and your primary paper I gave you. You already know how to write the letter a, so today we are just going to practice a little more. I am going to show you how to write a lowercase a. First, you start under the fence. Then, you go in a circle and touch the sidewalk Last, go slightly up and then straight back down. Can anyone remember what sound we said this letter makes? Let’s say the sound /a/ again but this time let’s do it all together. Awesome! Now remember how we drew the first a and draw five more just like it.”

5.  Next, hand out to each student Elkonin boxes and letter tiles. Say: “I want you guys to think about the letter a and the /a/ sound as we spell out these words. Let’s say I am trying to spell the word task. I need to start with the first sound that I hear in the word task. Tttt/ask, I hear the /t/ sound.  I am going to place the letter t in the first letterbox. Let’s listen and see what sound comes next. T/aaaaa/sk. There is that sound a sheep makes, /a/! Now I will place the letter a in my second letterbox. The third sound I hear is t/a/ssss/k, /s/.  I hear the /s/ sound, so I am going to place the letter s in the third letterbox. Let’s take a look at the last sound. T/a/s/kkkk. I gave each of you your own letterboxes and tiles to practice spelling words with. I want you to think about the way I spelled the word cat and do the same things I did to spell these new words. We are going to start out using three letterboxes so the words we spell will only have three sounds. I want you to spell the words rat, ask, dad, bag, hat, mad, and bad.” I will walk around and ask students to explain how they spelled the words. Next, I will ask students to spell words that have four phonemes such as: blast, flag, clap, mask, flat, and black.

6.  Say: “Next, we are going to work on reading words with the /a/ sound in the book A Cat NapA Cat Nap is a book about a cat that loves to take naps. He naps in Sam's bag and Sam has to leave to go to baseball practice. He takes his bag with him with Tab the cat in there. You’re going to have to read the book to find out what happens next! As we read, I want you to think about the /a/ sound that a sheep makes when you are sounding out words. After you finish reading, I would like for you to jot down at least three words from the book that used the /a/ sound.” I will walk around and listen to students whisper read the text. After everyone is finished reading, I will ask them to read aloud the words they found that have the /a/ sound and come up to write them on the board. 

Assessment: Use a phoneme identification test. Say: "Do you hear /a/ in _______ or ________?" Using the words: sit/sat, clap/clip, rat/mouse, orange/apple, pack/pick, and trap/trip


Murray, Gerry:

Yancey, Noie:

Decodable Text: A Cat Nap, Educational Insight 1990

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