Slithering Snakes

Samantha Dobbin

Emergent Literacy Lesson

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (hand gestures of a snake) and the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and applying phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with chant written; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with SO, SIX, SOCK, MOON, FORK, and SEE; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/:



1. Say: Our written language is a secret code with many letters. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for the mouth moves to help make the sounds that we say come out right. Today we are going to work on spotting mouth moves to /s/. We spell /s/ with the letter S. S looks like a snake, and /s/ sounds like what a snake would make.

2. Let's pretend your hand is a snake, /s/, /s/, /s/. Move your wrist and hand like a snake while making the sound.  Notice that both of your top and bottom teeth are touching, and your tongue lays flat in your mouth, and you blow air through your teeth to make the sound.

3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word Boston. I'm going to stretch Boston out in super slow motion and listen for my snake. Bbb-oo-sss-tt-oo-n. There is was! Did you hear it? I felt my teeth touch together and blow air. I can feel the snake /s/ in Boston.

4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "six small sly slithering snakes." Everybody say it three times with me together. Now say it again, and this time stretch the /s/ at the beginning of the words. "ssssix sssmall ssssly sssslithering sssnakesss." Try again, and this time break if off the word. /s/ix /s/ mall /s/ly /s/lithering  /s/nake/s/.

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencils]. We use letter S to spell /s/. Capital letter S look like a snake and so does a lower case S. Let's write the lower case s. Start at the belt and go down to the shoe in a curvy motion going left then to the right. Do not pick you pencil up off the paper until you are done writing the letter s. Do the same thing with the upper case but this time you are going to start at the hat and then go down to the shoe in a curvy motion. I want to see everybody's Ss. After I put a star on it, I want you to make eleven more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear/s/ in block or sock? Heaven or seven? Go or so? Like or bike? Star or Moon? Sister or brother? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some other words. Move your hand like a snake if you hear /s/: The, soaking, wet, spider, saw, stars, in, the, sky.

7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with a S. Can you guess?" Read the pages of S, drawing out /s/.  Ask students if they can think of other words with /s/. Ask them to make up silly creature names that begin with /s/. Then, have each student write their silly creature name with invented spelling and draw a picture to show what it might look like. Have students share their work and say each creature name together as a group, drawing out the /s/.

8. Show SO and model how to decide if it is SO or GO: S tells me to snake my teeth /s/, so this word is sss-o, so. You try some six or fix? Hamburger or sandwich? Rack or Sack? Sky or Moon?  Six or mix? Dress or bow? Louis or Max?

9. Assessment: distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with S. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Garnettel, Brittney



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