Icky Sticky!




Beginning Reading Literacy

Kasey Shepherd



In order for children to become successful readers, they must first understand the alphabetic principle--the idea that a word’s letter sequence is a map of the phonemes of the spoken word.  Short vowels are very important for children to learn because they are found in many words.  This lesson teaches the letter-sound correspondence i = /i/.  Students will identify /i/ in spoken words, spell and read words with /i/using letterboxes.  Students will also read a new book that uses the /i/ correspondence frequently. 

Materials: Graphic image; Letterboxes for each student (paper squares taped together); Letter manipulates for each child (i, n, b, g, z, p, t, w, l, l, m, s, s, h); List of short i words (in, big, tin, zip, will, miss, snip, hint); Letters and boxes for whiteboard (teacher); One copy of Tin Man Fix It for every student; Two copies of Liz is Six


1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words.  Now, we already learned about /e/.  We find this in words like pen, pet, Ben, get.  Today we are going to learn about short i.  When I say /i/, I think of a little girl who spilled her drink saying "Icky Sticky! What a mess!" [Graphic image]  Look at this letter.  This is short i.  This letter says /i/. [Rub hands together when reading short i words]

2. Say: When I listen for /i/ in words, I hear i say /i/, and my mouth is open with my tongue low. [Make vocal gesture for /i/] I’ll show you first: sit. I heard i say /i/ and I felt my mouth open with my tongue low. There is a short i in sit. Now I’m going to see if it’s in time. Hmm, I didn’t hear i say /i/. Now you try. If you hear /i/say: "Icky Sticky! What a mess!" If you don’t hear /i/ say: "Not there."

Is /i/in kick, pants, slid, mitt, snow, Liz?  

3. Say: Now we are going to spell some words using our letterboxes.  First I am going to show you how we use a letterbox.  The first thing we need to know is that every box represents a sound.  We put the letters in the boxes that match the sounds. 


So, what if I want to spell the word stick?  To spell stick in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /s//t//i//ck/.  I need 4 boxes.

I heard that /i/ just before the /ck/, so I’m going to put an i in the 3rd box.  The word starts with /s/, that’s easy; I need an s. I think I heard /t/ after I heard /s/ so I’ll put a t right after the s.  I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//t//i//ck/.  The missing one is /ck/. Many words that end with /k/ are spelled with two letters: letter c and letter k. So, then I will put the letters c and k in the fourth letterbox because the fourth sound in stick is /ck/.  Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display paper with stick on the top and model reading the word.]


4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for in: Our teacher told us to go in the classroom.  What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word.  Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /i/and don’t forget to put the last sound at the end. Here’s the word: big, I have a big teddy bear at home.  [Allow children to spell remaining words: tin, zip, will, miss, snip, hint.]


5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled, but first listen as I read a word for you. [Model how to read a word with i=/i/]

6.  Great job.  Now you are going to read a story called Tin Man Fix It.  Everybody find a partner that you know you will work well with.  Partner one is going to read the first page and then it will be time for partner two to read on page two. 

Booktalk: In this story, our friend Tim the tin man is working with Jim in the garden.  A big kid named Sid knocked Tim down.  Tim falls apart!  Will Jim be able to fix Tim?  Let’s read to find out.  During our story, if you hear the sound /i/, then I want you to rub your hands together like they are sticky.

7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about /i/, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem.  I am going to have an individual conference with every student.  All I need you to do for me is read a little bit of a book for me.  Our book is Liz is Six.  Does everyone remember reading Liz is Six last week? 


Melton, Shealy. The Glue is Sticky!



Murray, B. A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

Phonics Readers-Short Vowels.  Tin Man Fix It.  Educational Insights, 1990.

Phonics Readers-Short Vowels.  Liz is Six.  Educational Insights, 1990.


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