Let's Race to the Finish!

“Let’s Race to the Finish!”

A Beginning Reading Lesson

Lauren Nix

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence a_e = /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 a_e. They will learn a meaningful representation (racing, pumping arms like running), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a letterbox lesson, and read a decodeable book that focuses on the correspondence a_e = /A/


   -Image of children racing on chart paper to represent the correspondence a_e = /A/

   -Cover-up critter

   -Smartboard Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonn letterboxes for each student

   -Letter tiles for each child 

   -Magnetic letters for teacher: a, t, e, c, p, l, k, s, m, w, v, h, b, and r

   -List of spelling words on chart paper: ate, mat, made, cape, , bath, lake, same, wave, chase, and brave

   -Decodeable text for each child: Race for Cake

   -Assessment worksheets 


   1. Say: “In order to become expert readers, we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel words with a, like mat, and today we are going to learn about long A and silent e signal that is used to make A say its name, /A/. When I say /A/, I think of kids racing.” [show graphic image of the children racing]. 

   2. Say: “Before we learn about the spelling of /A/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /A/ in words, I hear a say its name /A/. My mouth is open and my tongue is down by my bottom teeth and I use my voice. [Make vocal gesture for /A/]. I’ll show you first: race. I heard a say its name. I felt my tongue at my bottom teeth and I used my voice. There is a long A in race. Now I’m going to see it is’s in lap. I didn’t hear a say it’s name and my mouth did not feel like it should when I say a long A word. Now you try. If you hear /A/ say, “Let’s race to the finish!”. If you don’t hear /A/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in cake, lip, name, flat, base, beep?”

   3.  Say: Now let’s look at the spelling of words with the long /A/ sound. What if I said “I love cake.” To spell cake in letterboxes, I first need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count. /c//A//k//. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /A/ just before the /k/, so I’m going to put an a in the 2nd box and the silent e signal outside the last box. The word starts with /c/, so that’s easy; I need a c. Now it gets a little tricky so I’m going to say it slowly, c//A//k/. I think I heard the long A right after the c. Let’s figure out the last sound I hear. c//A//k. I heard the k after the long A so I’m going to put it in the third box. Let’s double check and see if I got it right.” [Say the word slowly and point to the sounds while saying the word]. 







   4. Say: “Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for ate. For example, I ate spaghetti last night at dinner. What do you think will go in the first box? (Check to see if the child put an a in the first letterbox). What do you think goes in the second box? (Check to see if the child put a t in the second box). Now here comes the tricky part. Where did we say the silent e goes? (Check the children’s work to see if it was done correctly). Here’s the word ate. We are going to practice a word with three letterboxes. The word is made. ‘I made an art project yesterday.” Listen for the beginning sound that goes in the first box. Then, listen for the long /A/. I want you to pretend you are racing with your arms like we practiced earlier when you hear the long /A/ sound. Then think about what comes in the third box. Don’t forget about the tricky part of the word either. [Give the students time to spell the word]. Now, let’s check your work. Watch how I spell the word with my letterboxes on the Smartboard and see if you got it the same way. Good, now try another with three boxes. The word is cape. ‘I know Superman wears a cape’. [Give the students time to spell the remaining words and give sentences for each word: lake, same, wave, chase, and brave.]

   5. Say: “Now I’m going to let you read the words that you have spelled. [Show the words ate, made, cape, lake, same, wave, chase, and brave, the extra words face and safe, and the pseudoword vave. Have the students read the words together. After, call on students to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn]. 

   6. Say: “You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /A/ = a_e. Now we are going to read a book called Race for Cake. This story is about 2 kids, Ben and Jess, that were swimming together. All of a sudden, smelled cake. They decided to race to see who could get to the cake first. I wonder what’s going to happen during their race. Let’s read to find out!” [Children will pair up and take turns reading alternate pages of the book. The Teacher walks around the room, monitoring progress. After paired reading, students will reread Race for Cake chorally, and stop between each page to discuss.]

   7. Say: “Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /A/ = a_e, I want to make sure you recognize long /A/. On this worksheet, there are short /a/ words and long /A/ words. Your job is to color the words with a long /A/ sound blue, and the words with a short /a/ sound gray. Say the words in your head to make sure you color them the right color.” (Collect worksheet to evaluate individual progress.)


Dudley, Amber. Greeting with /A/. 


Murray, Geri. (2006). Race for Cake. Reading Genie: 


Assessment Worksheet: 


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