Absent Animals

Absent Animals
Target text


Associate the letter A (and lowercase a) with the short /a/ sound as in animal, ant, and cat.

See Standards

Lesson Plan

Target Words:

  • ant
  • absent
  • animals
  • alligator
  • antelope
  • anteater


  • Animal graphics*
  • Large ant graphic*

*Items included below.

State and Model the Objective
Tell the children that they will pretend to be animals as they practice saying the short /a/ sound in words that start with the letter such as absent, animal, alligator, ant, antelope, and anteater.

Literacy Activities
Act like animals

  • Introduce each paper animal to the children, pointing out that they all begin with the letter A, and in these words, A makes the /a/ sound as in apple.
  • Demonstrate how each animal would act (e.g., alligators snap jaws, anteaters slurp ants, antelopes leap, ants crawl on the ground).
  • Allow the children to take turns choosing a graphic and acting like the animal while the other children guess the animal (support as needed).
  • When the children guess the animal correctly, write the animal name on the board and point to the letter A as they say, "/a/ /a/ /a/ ___ (e.g., alligator)."

Find absent animals

  • Choose one child to step outside the room.
  • Help the other children choose an animal graphic and hide it somewhere in the room.
  • Invite the first child back inside the classroom.
  • Allow the first child to search for the absent animal.
    • Have the other children help him or her by saying the /a/ sound louder as he or she gets closer or softer as he or she moves away from the hidden animal.
  • Repeat the activity, allowing other children to take turns searching for the absent animal.

More Practice
Write the target letter

  • Show the children the large ant graphic.
  • Have the children name the letter A in the word ant and say the /a/ sound.
  • Instruct the children to write the letter A (and lowercase a) several times around the ant, saying the /a/ sound each time they write the letter A.
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SEEL At Home


Associate the uppercase A (and lowercase a) with the short /a/ sound as in animal, ant, and cat.


  • Animal graphics
  • Container 

Activity: Absent Animals

  • Identify each paper animal with your child and point out that each animal begins with the letter A, which makes the short a sound as in apple.
  • Have your child step outside the room while you hide an animal graphic somewhere in the room.
  • Invite your child back inside the room to search for the animal. 
    • Help your child search for the absent animal by saying the /a/ sound louder as he/she gets closer or softer as he/she moves away.
  • Repeat the activity, taking turns hiding and searching for the absent animal.
  • Make a list of the words from the activity that begin with the letter A (e.g., absent, animals, alligator, ant, antelope, anteater).
  • Have your child underline the letter A in each word while saying the /a/ sound.
  • Animals
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SEEL lessons align with Common Core Standards. Please see the standards page for the code(s) associated with this lesson.