Play the Drums with D



Emergent Literacy Lesson

By: Trisha Daniel



Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /d/, the phoneme represented by D. Students will learn to recognize /d/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (playing the drum) and the letter symbol D, practice finding /d/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /d/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.



Primary paper and pencil

Chart with "Diane’s dog digs down deep"

Drawing paper and crayons

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans (Walker Childrens, 2006)

Word cards with DEN, DOT, PEER, DICE, CART, and DARK

Assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /d/ (URL below)



1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move as we say /d/.  We spell /d/ with letter D.  D looks like half of a drum and /d/ makes the sound as if you were playing a drum.


2. Let's pretend to play the drum,  /d/, /d/, /d/. [Pantomime drumming] Notice where your tongue moves? (Behind top teeth then down). When we say /d/, we open our mouth wider.


3. Let me show you how to find /d/ in the word under.  I'm going to stretch under out in super slow motion and listen for the drum.  Uunn-d-er.  Slower: U-u-u--nn-ddd-err. There it was!  I felt my tongue touch the back of my top teeth and my mouth open wide. I can hear the drum /d/ in under.


4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Diane’s dog digs down deep." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /d/ at the beginning of the words. "Ddddiane’s ddddog ddddigs dddown dddeep." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/D/iane’s /d/og /d/igs /d/own /d/eep.”


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use the letter D to spell the sound /d/. Capital D looks like half of a drum.  Let's write the lowercase letter d. Start just below the fence and make a circle that touches down at the sidewalk, then go up to the roof and draw a straight line all the way down to the sidewalk touching the circle on the right side.  I want to see everybody's d. After I put a sticker on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /d/ in start or done?  Drive or walk? Seek or hide? Shady or sunny? Bend or break? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /d/ in some words. Play your drum if you hear /d/: The, damp, duck, dove, in, the, deep, lake.


7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. This book uses endangered animals to represent all the letters of the alphabet; endangered means at risk of being extinct, or no longer existing. So an endangered animal is one that has a low population and could soon no longer exist. The bald eagle is an endangered animal.  David McLimans tells us about an endangered animal that starts with D.  Can you guess?"  Read the D page, drawing out /d/.  Ask children if they can think of other words or animals with /d/.  Ask them to make up their own animal name that starts with D, like dillypotamus or drave debra. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their new animal. Display their work.


8. Show DEN and model how to decide if it is den or pen: The D tells me to play my drum, /d/, so this word is ddd-en, den.  You try some: DOT: dot or lot? PEER: deer or peer? DICE: dice or mice? CART: dart or cart? DARK: dark or bark?



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




Assessment Worksheet

“Acquiring the Alphabetic Principle” by Brian Byrne and Ruth Fielding-Barnsley from the Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 82(4), Dec 1990, 805-812.

“Popcorn Goes Pop” by Alle Hausfeld

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