Water The Grass With T

Courtney Hillman
Emergent Literacy

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

Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Todd and Tina took tater tots to the turtle”; I Spy pictures with characters and objects from story; When Tilly Turtle Came to Tea (Scholastic, 2001); word cards with TIP, TOP, TEN, TANK, RUG, FABLE, TIME; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with
/t/ (URL listed below).

1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. It is hard to learn what each letter stands for. Letters stand for the mouth moves we make when we say words. Today, we are going to practice recognizing the mouth move /t/. We spell /t/ with the letter T. T looks like a sprinkler, and /t/ sounds like a sprinkler.

2. Say: Let’s be a sprinkler. Move your arm across your body and go /t/, /t/, /t/. How does your mouth move when you say /t/? The tip of your tongue touches above your top teeth when you make the /t/ sound. Let’s practice it again and pay attention to your mouth when you do. [Practice /t/.]

3. Say: Now, I am going to demonstrate how to find /t/ in the word chart. I am going to stretch the word out very slowly and listen for the sprinkler. Chhh-a-a-art. Help me drag it out even slower. Chh-a-a-a-r-r-t. There it is! I felt my tongue touch just above my top teeth. I feel the sprinkler /t/ in chart.

4. Say: Next, we’re going to practice the sprinkler noise by saying a tongue twister! Do you know what that is? A tongue twister is a phrase or sentence that is made up mostly of words that have a common phoneme. The tongue twister we’re going to work with is [on chart] “Todd and Tina took tater tots to the turtle.” Let’s say it together. Okay, let’s say it three times, and listen for sprinkler /t/. Now, let’s stretch out the /t/ at the beginning of each word. “Tttodd and Tttina ttook ttater ttots tto the ttturtle. This time, we’re going to separate the /t/ from the word. “/t/ odd and /t/ ina /t/ ook /t/ ater /t/ ots /t/ o the /t/ urtle.”

5. [Primary paper and pencil is needed for this activity] The letter T is used to spell the /t/ sprinkler sound. Capital T looks like a sprinkler. Let’s write the lowercase letter t. Start at the rooftop and bring a straight line all the way down to the sidewalk. Then, draw a smaller line across at the fence. Everyone show me your t. After I have given you a sticker, write nine more.

6. [Ask students to answer and stretch out the word and show where the sprinkler is.] Say: When you hear the sprinkler do the sprinkler move with it! Do you hear /t/ in touch or hear? Taste or smell? Tiger or lion? Heart or brain? Big or little? Party or rock? As a class, do the sprinkler move every time you hear the /t/ sound. A, terrifying, tiger, ran, and, trotted, over, a, trampoline.

7. Say: Now, we’re going to read When Tilly Turtle Came to Tea. Tilly Turtle goes to tea with her friends, but she laughs too hard and knocks over the table! How will they finish their tea time? Listen very carefully for all of the words with /t/. We will make a list of all of these words as we read. Once we’re done reading, we’re going to go on a hunt for these objects or pictures around the room that start with the letter T. [Have objects like a tea cup, a picture of Tilly, a turtle, etc.]

8. [Show the word TIP and model how to decide if it is tip or rip.] Say: Here is the word TIP. The T tells me to make my sprinkler noise, /t/, so the word is tttt-ip, tip. Now I want you to try: TOP: top or mop? TEN: pen or ten? TANK: rank or tank? RUG: rug or tug? FABLE: table or fable? TIME: time or lime?

9. [For assessment, give students the worksheets. Students circle the objects that begin with the letter T. Also, do individual assessments using the word cards from the previous step (#8).


“Gulp Your Gatorade with G” by Mary Katherine Cook

Byrne, Brian; Fielding-Barnsley, Ruth (1989) Phonemic awareness and letter knowledge in the child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(3), 313-321. 

Assessment worksheet: http://www.beginningreading.com/Alphabet_4Tt.gif

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