“Slithering Snakes Say S”


Emergent Literacy


Hayes Adams


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 (the sound a snake makes and moving your hand in an S shape looking like a slithering snake) and the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Slithering Sassy Sammy Snake Slinks at Sunset"; drawing paper and crayons. Six Sleepy Sheep. Gordon, J.; word cards with SACK, SAND, MILK, SONG, SING, and SAY, SAT; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/ (URL below).



1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. Just like when you tell your friend a secret, each letter has its own secret. The hard part is learning what each letter or word’s secret is—or how your mouth moves certain ways when you say the letters and words. Today we're going to work on spotting the movement you mouth makes when you say /s/.  We spell /s/ with letter S.  S looks like a snake, and /s/ sounds like the noise a snake makes with its tongue.


 2. Let's pretend to be a snake,  /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime a slithering snake with your hand] Notice where the roof of your mouth is? (Show student how your tongue touches the roof of your mouth). When we say /s/, we press our tongue to the roof of our mouth and blow out air, the same sound a snake makes.


3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word snake.  I'm going to stretch snake out in super, sluggish, slow motion and listen for my snake tongue sound.  Sss-n-a-k.  Slower: Sssss-n-n-n-aaa-k

There it was!  I felt my tongue touch the roof of my mouth and blow air. I can hear the snake’s tongue /s/ in snake!


4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. " Slithering Sassy Sammy Snake Slinks at Sunset." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /f/ at the beginning of the words. " ssslithering ssassy sssammy sssnake ssslinks at sssunset." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: /s/lithering /s/assy /s/ammy /s/nake /s/links at /s/unset.


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter S to spell /s/.

Capital S looks like a curled up snake.  Let's write the lowercase letter s. Start at the top and make a little c shape like a sticking out tummy. Then make a backwards c like a sticking out tummy the other way and connect them together in one fluid motion. It looks like a curled up snake. I want you to make nine more just like it.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in slurp or milk? sun or moon? stick or rock? shoe or foot? Sunday or Monday? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Make a slithering snake with your hand if you hear /s/: The, silly, slimy, worm, slinked, slowly, in, the, rain, shower.


7. Say: "Let's look at a book about sheep. These six sheep try to fall asleep by doing lots of things that start with /s/ like slurping soup, telling stories, singing, and so on. Can you imagine the types of things that they will think of that start with the letter S to help them fall asleep? Tell the students to make up their own silly tongue twister for example, it could be about an animal that starts with S, with an S name, doing an action the starts with S, in an S way like slowly, sneakily, sweetly, softly, in a place that starts with S. Tell students to draw and color what is happening in their silly tongue twister. For example, for Slithering Sassy Sammy Snake Slinks at Sunset I would draw sammy the snake being sassy and slinking with a sunset in the background. Display their work.


8. Show SAT and model how to decide if it is sat or pat: The s tells me to make the snake’s tongue sound, /s/, so this word is sss-at, sat.  You try some:? SACK: sack or pack?, SAND: sand or hand?, SONG: song or long, SING: sing or wing? SAY: say or day?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to complete worksheet by drawing a line to help the sailboat find the items that begin with the S sound and then color those objects. Call students individually to read S words that they colored ( there are only three)


Reference: Gordon, J. Six Sleepy Sheep. New York: Puffin Books. 1991.


Assessment worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/s-begins1.htm


Similar lesson design: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/adventures/mckinneyel.htm