Sssss says the Snake

Phonemic Awareness Emergent Literacy

Mary Cam Carlson

Rationale: Rationale: This lesson will help children learn /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will be able to recognize /s/ when it is said by remembering the motion associated with the sound (swirling your hands in an upward motion like a snake) and the letter symbol S, provide phonemic awareness for the letter /s/, and they will be able to recognize /s/ in written and spoken form. 


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; picture with symbol and letter and tongue twister: "Sissy sat on a slippery snake"; markers and paper; word cards with SAT, SUB, SACK, STAY, SLAP, and STICK; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /m/ (URL link below).


1. Say: Each letter of the alphabet has a unique sound.  We form letter sounds by moving our mouths in different ways.  To day we are going to focus on the sound /s/.  We spell /s/ with letter S. [show picture-sound card]. S looks like a snake, and /s/ sounds like what a snake says "ssssss"!

2. Let's pretend to slither like a snake,  /s/, /s/, /s/. [pretend to slither our hands like a snake.] Notice how your lips and teeth make the sound? When we say /s/, we open our lips, put our teeth together and press our tongue to our teeth and let the air come out of our teeth.

3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word blast.  I'm going to stretch blast out very slowly and listen for s…s ssss.  Bbb-llll-aaa- ssss-tttt.  Slower: b-ll-aaa-ssss -ttt did you feel it and hear it!  I felt my tongue against my teeth. I can hear myself say /s/ in blast.

4.  Let's try a tongue twister. " Sissy Sat on a Slippery Snake." Lets say it together.  When you hear /s/ move your hands like a snake. Lets stretch out the sounds when we hear /s/. Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/S/issy /s/at on a /s/lippery /s/nake."

5.   [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. Letter S looks like a snake that is slithering.  A lowercase s looks exactly the same.  For S start at the roof and make a  curve to the fence then make a curve the opposite way to the sidewalk.  For a lower case s do the same thing but write it from the fence to the sidewalk. 

6.   Next ask students to identify the word with /s/ in it: Do you hear /s/ in less or more? Mouth or nose?  sad or glad? Earth or Mars? sand or rock? Say: Now see if you can watch my mouth make the /s/ sound, make the snake when you see it: salad, hamburger, french fry, ketchup, mustard, pickle, cheese, onion, sauce. 


7.  Say: Lets read a story, Verdi, its about a snake who loves to soar through the sky.  Can you find a picture of Verdi soaring through the sky? I am going to read the story, and every time you hear /s/ make a snake with your hands.  Next draw a picture of any kind of snake soaring through the sky.  He can do flips, figure eights, or loop de loops. Be creative!! Then write a sentence about your picture.

8.  Show SAT and model how to decide if it is sat or top: The S tells me to sound like a snake, /s/, so this word is sss-at, sat.  You try some: Sub: sub or tank? Sack: Sack or bag? Stay: Gone or Stay? Slap: Hit or slap? Stick: twig or stick?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to complete the partial spellings by adding s and color the pictures that begin with s. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.


Bruce Murray, Brush your Teeth with F 

Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Assessment Worksheet:

Dr. Murray literacy design example

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