Let's Make the Lower Case a!

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SWBAT use correct letter formation to make the lower case a.

Big Idea

We use the letter A to read and write.

Prepare the Learner

15 minutes

I always start off my letter/sound instruction for a vowel by singing two ABC songs and a vowel song.  The first one focuses just on the letters and order of the alphabet.  The second one focuses on the sound of each letter.  I sing these songs every day of the school year.  The third song is a vowel song that teaches short and long vowel sounds for each vowel. Even though I have not formally taught every letter and sound at this time of year, the kids quickly learn the songs and they actually recognize many of the letter sounds before I have formally taught them. 

We then review pictures that begin with the sound of A.  I use the same pattern for these pictures every day and with every letter.  You will see this pattern throughout my lessons:

I say(name of picture)

Students  say(name of picture)

We all say letter sound three times. 


For example, I may begin with the picture of 'apple' with the letter A.  I say: Apple.  Students say: Apple.  We all say:  /a/ /a/ /a/

If you do not have any picture cards, here is a great video that reviews /a/ words and also addresses letter formation!!



Interact with concept

45 minutes

We revisit letter Aa formation with this brief video that the kids love!


Our printing books are called Leo books.  I do the capital letter as directed teaching on Tuesdays and the lower case letter as directed teaching on Thursdays.  When we do letter formation practice it is very systematic and teacher directed.  I do the pages one line at a time.  Directed teaching of letter formation is crucial for beginning writers to ensure they have legible writing.  Letter formation is not something they pick up intuitively and without it their writing can be unclear and/or not understandable.


Say: Boys and girls, pencils down, eyes on me.  Where to I start for the lower case a? (middle line) That’s right we put our pencils on the middle line. I then go around and down, like the letter ‘c’ and touch the bottom line.  I then go up and down. (students are watching me and I write very slowly and precisely) (there is now a ‘a’ on the line)  Does everyone see how my a is sitting on the bottom line?  (yes)  Ok.  Watch me again. (I make another a very slowly)  Say: Start on the middle  line. Down and around, like a ‘c.’  Up.  Down.  I try to give simple word sequence clues for students to say to themselves as they make the letters.  I only do this after I have modeled it several times, so the kids know what the word clues mean. 


Say: Now I want you to try your a’s on line #s 1-2.  Only line #s 1-2, then you put your pencil down and wait for me.  Begin.    As kids are making their a’s on the first two lines, I assist and monitor where necessary.  If students are making mistakes, I use hand over hand to help them, or I show them with my marker on their paper while they watch.  I then have them make a ‘a’ while I watch and offer further correction, if it is necessary.  As I see that kids are finishing, I go back to the document camera and do the same routine with the rest of the page.

Extend Understanding

20 minutes

Centers: Students rotate through the centers, going to one per day.  I have a centers chart where they find their name daily and what center they are assigned to for that day. My centers are designed to address skills that students need, be it fine motor, gross motor or academic. 

1. Read the Room- I have kid sunglasses in a basket with fun pointers.  The kids choose a pair of glasses and a pointer and can walk around the room reading letters, words and numbers.   

2. Listening- I put the big books of all the stories we’ve read together in our reading program  in this center with the CDs of those stories.  Each CD has 3-4 stories, so the kids can listen to those as they sit on the floor and share the big book!

3.  Play Doh- I have capital and lower case cookie cutters that I put out with play-doh.  The kids can cut letters of their choice and make words, if they are able!

4. Computer- students can listen to /a/ pictures and a story on starfall.com