Blowin' Bubbles with B

An Emergent Literacy Design

By: Ashley Runyon


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

Materials: Primary paper and pencil with eraser; chart with "Bubba’s bagel baked bacon bits"; Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book by Alexander Stadler (2002); drawing paper and crayons; word cards with BIG, MAKE, BUN, SHUTTER, SANK, and MUST; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /b/ (URL).


1. Say: Imagine you are an undercover spy. You can’t discuss important topics in front of just anyone, right? You have to have a secret code. Well, our English written language is just that—a secret code. Even though secret codes may seem to be hard to learn, I promise it’s not! Each letter is simply pronounced by movement of the mouth, which is exactly how you say words. Today, we are going to target how the mouth moves for /b/. We spell /b/ with letter B. B looks like a stick to blow a bubble, and /b/ sounds like blowing a bubble very gently.

2. Let's pretend to blow a bubble, /b/, /b/, /b/.  (Show blowing a bubble out of an imaginary stick) Isn’t it cool how every time you say /b/, your top and bottom lips have to touch? Try to say /b/ without touching your top and bottom lip together. You can’t, right? Therefore, /b/ is a very special letter with a one of a kind sound!

 3. Here, allow me to show you how to find /b/ in the word tube.  Even though I said tube like I was talking normal, this time, I'm going to stretch tube out in super slow motion. Make sure you listen for my bubble!  Ttt-u-u-ube.  Slower: Ttt-u-u-u-bbb-e Hmm, I heard the /b/ that time!  Both my top and bottom lips touched when I said that word and I can feel the bubble /b/ in tube.

4. Now that we found the /b/ in tube, let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Bubba’s bagel baked bacon bits." Everybody say it three times together. Great! Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /b/ at the beginning of the words. I really want to hear the /b/. "Bbbubba’s bbbagel bbbaked bbbacon bbbits.” I really liked the /b/ I heard. Now, you’re going to do it one more time but this time, break it off the word: "/b/ ubba’s  /b/ agel /b/ aked /b/ acon /b/ its.”

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil given at the beginning of lesson]. We use letter B to spell /b/. Capital B looks like a stick that is used to blow bubbles.  Let's write the lowercase letter b. Start at the top of the page. Draw a straight line from the top to the bottom. Then, start at the middle of the straight line, where the dots are on the page, and make a backwards c. It almost looks like a half bubble on the straight line. Okay! I want to see everybody's b. After I put a check mark on it, I want you to make nine more just like it, which is how many total? 10!

 6. Call on students to answer and explain why they chose that answer: Do you hear /b/ in book or novel? Blank or note? Bottle or cup? Bib or hankie? Rib or chicken? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /b/ in some words. Blow a bubble by holding the bubble stick if you hear /b/:  The, bunny, butterfly, flake, yard, bat, tab, for, yellow, baby.

7. Say: "Let's look at a story. Alexander Stadler, the author, tells us about a girl who borrows a book. Can you guess what type of book she borrows?"  Read the first two pages and make sure to draw out /b/, having the students blow an imaginary bubble when they hear it.  Ask children if there are any additional words that have /b/.  Ask the students to make up a couple of interesting book titles using B, like Big Bubbles and Butterflies or Bobby’s Butterscotch Bagel Bites. Then, instruct each student to write their titles with invented spelling and draw a picture of what the cover of the book would look like. Display their work.

8. Show BIG and model how to decide if it is big or wig: The B tells me to blow a bubble, /b/, so this word is bbb-ig, big.  You try some:  MAKE: make or bake? BUN: bun or sun? SHUTTER: shutter or butter? SANK: sank or bank? MUST: must or bust?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to complete the partial spellings, like insert the b in front of the letters “oat” and color the pictures that begin with B. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words seen previously in step #8.


Stadler, A.  Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book. Harcourt Children's Books; 1st edition. 2002.


Meg Miller, Buzzy B's:

Assessment worksheet:

Return to the Awakenings index