Beginning Reading

Hey, MR. A!

Hey, Mr. A!

Beginning Reading

Sherell Brown

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 the spelling a_e. They will learn a meaningful representation (Mr. A), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence a_e=/A/.


  • Elkonin boxes for modeling and Elkonin boxes for each student
  • Plastic letter manipulatives for myself for modeling and for each student: a, e, p, c, n, t, m, l, k, J
  • Cover-up critters
  • List of spelling words on a poster that read: ape, cane, late, cat, cake, Jake
  • Big word list (large enough for whole class to read) with the words used in the LBL
  • Decodable text: The Race for Cake
  • Assessment worksheet on Long A


1. Say: Today we are going to become one step closer to becoming an expert reader. To become an expert reader, we have to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowels with a, like hat, and today we are going to learn about long A and the silent e signal that is used to make A say its name, /A/. When I say /A/ I think of a man named Mr. A (shows class a picture of Mr. A).

2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /A/, we will listen for it in some words. When I listen for /A/ in words, I hear A say its name /A/ and my lips open and spread apart like this. [Make vocal gesture for /A/] My mouth does not touch when saying /A/. Let’s do a few example words. Watch my mouth as I say the word cane. There is a long A in cane. Now I’m going to see if it’s in the word cap. Hmm, I did not hear A say its name and my lips did not make the same move that they made when we said cane. Now, it’s your turn to try! If you hear a word with /A/ say “Hey Mr. A!” If you don’t hear /A/ say “Next word!” Do you hear /A/ in lamp, tame, ran, wake, game? [Children will listen for the vowel correspondence in the listed words.]

3. Say: Now we will learn about the spelling of /A/. There is more than one way to spell /A/ but the way we are learning about today is the letter a and an e at the end of the word to tell me to say A’s name. [Write a_e on the board.] The blank line is a spot for a consonant after a, and at the end of the word there is a silent e signal. Let’s try an example with the word cape together. [I demonstrate using a LBL] “Superheroes wear capes!” To spell cape in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes are in the word. Let’s stretch out the word and find out: /c/ /A/ /p/. I need 3 boxes. The /A/ will go in our middle letterbox. The word starts with /c/ so we need to use the letter c. What letter makes the sound /p/? That’s right! The letter p. Now we have to add our silent e outside of the letter boxes. [Points to the letters in the boxes while stretching out the word cape]

4. Say: Now it is your turn to spell some words in letterboxes. [Hands out individual Elkonin boxes and letters to each student]. You will start out easy with just two letterboxes for the word ape. “I saw an ape while I was at the zoo.” What should go in the first box? [Listen for student’s answers]. Now what goes in the second box? Now where do we put the silent e? [Walk around the room to check everyone’s spellings]. For the next five words, we will need three boxes! I want you to listen for the beginning sound in each word. Then listen for the /A/ sound and let’s remember to put the silent e outside of the boxes. Let’s spell the word cane. “The man has to walk with a cane”. [Allow children to spell words as I walk around the classroom to observe their spellings, then demonstrate on the board the correct way, repeat this step with the next word]. Now let’s try the word late. “I do not want to be late to school!” [Repeat previously mentioned step]. The next word is cat. “I have a pet cat named Tom.” Be careful with this word. Do we hear the long /A/ in cat? [Wait for children to respond] Very good! I like how you guys spelled cat and remembered that it has the short /a/ vowel. The next word is cake. “I love chocolate cake.” [This time let a volunteer come spell the word on the overhead using my letterboxes]. Our last word is Jake. “My best friend’s name is Jake.” [Repeat step with a new student coming up to volunteer]. Very good class! We now know how to spell words with long /A/! You guys did AAA-mazing.

5. Say: Now we are going to read the words that we just spelled. Before we begin reading, I am going to demonstrate how I read tough words. [Display a poster with the word late and model reading the word by using cover-up critters]. Now I want us to read the word list together. [Read word list aloud with all students]. “Now I want you to read the word list individually!” [Let each student take a turn in reading the words aloud].

6. Say: You’ve done an amazing job today reading and spelling words with /A/: a_e. I am very proud of each and every one of you. Now we are going to read a book called The Race for Cake. This story is about two boys named Ben and Jess. They were swimming when they smelled their mom baking a cake! They ran and ran, along with their dog Lad, to get the cake. However, along the way, something unexpected happens that may jeopardize them being able to eat the cake! Will they be able to eat it? We must read to find out. Let’s pair up and read this book. [Students get in pairs to read book. I will walk around and observe the students. After everyone has read the book, I will read it aloud to the whole class and stop between pages to discuss what is happening].

7. Say: That was a great story. I know Jess and Ben are sad they could not get any cake but Lad is very happy! Before we finish up our lesson, I want to pass out a worksheet. On this worksheet there are pictures with words under them. I want you to go through this worksheet and color all the pictures that make the long /A/ sound by using a_e. [Collect worksheets to see the child’s progress].


Christensen, Ansley. The Crying Baby Goes, "Aaaaaaa"

Murray, G. (2006) The Race for Cake. Reading Genie.

Assessment Worksheet:

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