Sneaky Snake

Emergent Literacy

Beth Kelley

Rational: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme that /s/ is represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words, how to write an upper case S and lower case s, and how to distinguish between words that have /s/ and words that do not have /s/.

Materials:  Primary paper and pencils; Chart with “Seth Snake slithers sneakily down the sizzling hot sidewalk”; card with the letter S; Scoot, by Cathryn Falwell


1.   Say: “We use the letters of the alphabet to write and say words every day.  It is very important that we learn the sounds that go with each letter of the alphabet so we can use them correctly. Today we are going to be working on the sound /s/. We spell /s/ using the letter S.”


2.   Say: “Let’s make the /s/ sound. Can you think of an animal that makes the /s/ sound? That’s right. . .  a snake makes the /s/ sound. Every time we hear /s/ we are going to pretend that we are snakes and we are going to make our hands slither like snakes.” (Demonstrate the motion.)


3.   Say: “Now we are going to make the /s/ sound and we are going to pay very close attention to what our mouth and tongue do when we say /s/. (Say /s/.) When we say this our teeth should be barely open and our tongue should be lightly touching the back of your teeth and front of your mouth. Let’s say it again and make sure our mouth and tongue are doing the right thing.”


4.   Say: “Now we are going to practice /s/ with a tongue tickler. Don’t forget to use your slithering snake hands!”  (Point to each word as student is saying it.) “‘Seth Snake slithers sneakily down the sizzling hot sidewalk.’ Good job with all those /s/’s! Now let's say it again, and this time, stretch the /s/ at the beginning of each word. ‘SSSSeth SSSSnake SSSSlithers SSSSneakily down the SSSSizzling hot SSSSidewalk.’ Wonderful!  Now we are going to try it again, but this time we are going to break the /s/ off of each word: ‘/S/ eth /S/ nake /S/ lithers /S/ neakily down the /S/ izzling hot /S/ idewalk.’ Fantastic!”


5.   Say: “Now I am going to show you how to find the /s/ in words. I am going to use the word snail. Ssss-n-ai-l. Do you hear the /s/ in ssss-n-ai-l. In the word snail, the /s/ is at the beginning, but sometimes it can be in the middle or at the end. Okay, now I am going to say some other words, and I want you to use your snake hands when you hear /s/.” (house, mask)


6.   Say: “Since we know what /s/ sounds like and we can recognize it in words, now we need to practice writing it. We use the letter S to write /s/.” Show them the card with the letter S. “The letter S even looks like a snake. We are going to start by writing the lower case s. Watch me write s and then you can try. We start just below the fence and make a c, and then we curve down to the side walk. I want you to write one s. When you have finished writing one s raise your hand and I will come by to make sure it is written correctly. After I check your s I want you to write five more s’s for practice.” (After everyone has had enough practice continue with the lesson.) “Now we are going to practice the upper case S. It looks just like the lower case s except it is bigger. We start just below the rooftop and make our c that stops at the fence, and then we curve down to the side walk. When you have written one S raise your hand so that I can come check it. After I check your S you can write five more to practice.”


7.   Say: “Now I am going to say different words and I want you to tell me which one you hear the /s/ in.” (Sand or water, float or sink, plate or base).


8.   Say: “We are going to read a story now. We will be reading Scoot, by Cathryn Falwell. This book is about lots of animals in the woods, and they like to play and jump around in the woods, except for these six turtles. They like to sit, and not move, but strong winds come upon the turtles. What do you think will happen to the six silent turtles? Let’s read it to find out! While I am reading the story I want you to listen for the /s/. . .  don’t forget to use your snake arms when you hear /s/!”


Assessment: I will give students a worksheet with different pictures. I will tell students to circle the picture if it has the /s/ sound in it. Then I will have them write an upper case S and a lower case s.



Resources: (Slithering, Sneaky Snake Says “SSSsssss” by Janie Colvin) (Sassy Sally Snake by Caroline Burr) (Slithering Snakes by Hannah Jackson)


Falwell, Cathryn. Scoot! China. Greenwillow Books, 2008.


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