Pop Your Popcorn with P


By Molly Montgomery



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


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper. "Penelope’s Picnic"; drawing paper and crayons;; word cards with PET, PAY, PICKLE, PILL, PORK, and PIN, And Color worksheet (per student).



1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for--the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /p/. We spell /p/ with letter P. P looks like a piece of un-popped popcorn, and /p/ sounds like popcorn being popped.

2. Let's pretend we are popping popcorn, /p/, /p/, /p/. [Pantomime popcorn popping] Notice where your lips are? (Touching each other). When we say /p/, start with our lips together and we push air out of our mouth while parting our lips.

3. Let me show you how to find /p/ in the word lamp. I'm going to stretch lamp out in super slow motion and listen for my popcorn. Lll-a-a-mm-ppp. Slower: Lll-a-a-a-mm-pppp There it was! I felt my lips come together and then blow out air. I can feel the popcorn popping /p/ in lamp.

4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /p/ at the beginning of the words. " Pppppeter Ppppiper ppppicked a pppeck of ppppickled pppeppers." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/P/ eter /P/ iper /p/ icked  a /p/ eck of  /p/ ickled /p/ eppers.

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter P to spell /p/. Capital P looks like a piece of popcorn. Let's write the lowercase letter p. Start at the fence, go straight down into the ditch, come up and put his chin on the sidewalk. I want to see everybody's p. After I put a smile 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 /p/ in pill or mill? Plate or bowl? Pink or green? Color or paint? Light or lamp? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /p/ in some words. Pop your popcorn if you hear /p/: "The, pushy, person, left, the, purple, pillows, beside, the, puffy, couch."

7. Say: "Now I’m going to read the book Penelope’s Picnic. This story is about Penelope the pig and her friend Polly. They go down to visit the penguins picnic. When the get there the penguins are gone playing games. So Penelope and Polly decide to eat some of the penguins food. The food is so yummy that they start eating a lot of it. Will the penguins be back in time to eat some of their food? We are going to have to read the book to find out." "Ok, while I’m reading this book I want you to listen for the /p/ sound we have been talking about all class. Everytime you hear the /p/ sound I want you to make the popcorn popping motion with your hands. [Teacher will read the story and students will make the motion.]

8. Show PIG and model how to decide if it is pig or dig: The P tells me to pop my popcorn, /p/, so this word is ppp-i-g, pig. You try some: PET: pet or met? PAY: pay or lay? PICKLE: pickle or tickle? PORK: fork or pork? PILL: mill or pill? PIN: win or pin?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Color in all the pictures that start with /p/. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie: Hand Gestures for Phonemes



Lesson Reference: "Pop, Pop, Pop, Goes the Popcorn" by Susan Grimes-



Penelope’s Picnic:



Assessment worksheet:



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