A is a fairly easy letter for Kindergarteners to grasp; however, the /a/ sound is extremely difficult for most Kindergarteners to produce correctly on a regular basis.
/a/ is a hard sound for one main, complicated reason-
the /a/ sound is very similar to the /e/ and /i/ sounds.
Since we really want our students to properly produce the /a/ sound when reading and writing, we really need to make sure that we teach them how to pronounce it within a variety of words! When we make our students' exposure to the /a/ sound fun and repeated, they are more likely to remember it successfully.
"Today, we are going to learn about the letter A! What letter are we going to learn about?"
(Students will say, "We are going to learn about the letter A!")
"Great job, everyone! A... A is for and, acting and apples! So many words start with A! Do we have anyone in here whose name has a A in it? I bet we have a lot!" *Wait time*
(Students will share responses.)
"Yes, you are correct! Nice work! Now, let's learn a little more about this letter A and the sound that it makes in words!"
I Do 1:
I will show the students how to make the /a/ sound. I will show them how my mouth is formed and I will even let them watch me make the /a/ sound in a small, hand-held mirror. I will talk to the students about /a/ being a wide sound- "you make it with your mouth completely open."
You Do 1:
I will have students use their own hand-held mirror and practice making the sound for /a/. As they do that, I will remind them that "/a/ is made when open your mouth upwards and a little to the sides, and let the sound out from your entire mouth. You don't need your tongue or your teeth for the /a/ sound... now try it again!"
I Do 2:
I will talk to students about some words in our class that begin with a and some popular words that they would all be familiar with.
"Now, we are going to watch a video about the letter A and I want you to listen. When you hear a word that starts with /a/ or /A/ or that has /a/ or /A/ in the middle, find the A on the video and point to it! The video is full of words that begin with A or have a in the middle, so use a finger and point to the A in each word and trace it as you say the word." (This helps with their fine motor skills and practicing formation!)
"Are you ready?"
(Students will say yes)
-- It is important to remind students that this video has words that begin with both short a and long a in it- preparing them for different words and sounds is important, as well as helpful!
"Let's practice a few times. If I say a word that begins with /a/, point to me... Here we go:
and, mop, actor, ship, ask, friend, ache... Wow, most of you did a great job! Now, let's watch the video and keep up the good pointing!"
You Do 2:
Students will watch the A video. It is super fun and catchy and students will sing along to the video and enjoy it. After the video, I will ask students to help me make a list of words that begin with /a/ or words that have medial a (since the video showed both) and we will create a reference chart to use throughout the week.
Here are some things I will do throughout the week when we focus on the phonemic awareness and phonics skills for the letter A!
I will give students a poem with many A words in it and have them find all of the a's; then, we will practice reading it together for fluency.
I will have students practice finding A's around the school (in the halls, on bulletin boards, etc).
I will have students practice making A's (while they trace or write it, they will say, /a/, /a/, /a/)
I will have students complete an initial sound sort with words that begin with a and words that do not- this will serve as my assessment and will help me determine whether re-teaching may be needed for some students.
On the last day of the A week, we go back over our A video and review our list of A words. We also take about two minutes and hold the small, hand-held mirrors for a partner and make sure they are correctly enunciating the /a/ sound. We go back over how to make the /a/ sound properly as the final activity. Then, I will tell the students that next week will bring us a new focus sound!
EXTRA FUN!!! To add to the summary for the week of A and /a/, we learn about Johnny Appleseed. Fortunately, our A week has always coincided with Johnny Appleseed's birthday, so it has been easily scheduled. On this week, we eat apples, we graph apples, we read books about Johnny Appleseed and we even dress up like Johnny Appleseed!
Also, we usually always do a main writing piece with the letter A.
Every year so far, I have had my students write about apples; however, students could write about a multitude of things that being with a because the writing opportunities are endless!
Additionally, we hang our A letter card up on the wall. That way, we can use it for our daily letter-sound practice! From then on, /a/ will be part of our regular practice!
Lastly, I like to include some practice with the letter A in my centers to build students' practice with it and strengthen their fluency. Attached are some activities that could be used with centers.