Brown Bear’s Ball or Mouse’s Money?

 Dana Harbin

Emergent literacy design 



Rationale: It is important for children to be able to identify beginning sounds in words so that they can connect them to letters. Children must learn how to listen for, say, and recognize the consonant sounds so that they will be able to attach the phonemes to letters.


Materials: Pocket chart; Picture cards for bear, hat, and moon; Other picture cards of objects starting with the same letters: banana, baby, ball, home, heart, money, mouth, mouse; three-way-sort sheets from Teaching Resources by Pinnell, Gay Su and Fountas, Irene C. ©2003 (three-way-sort sheets are just pieces of paper which have been divided by lines into three sections), Alligators All Around: An Alphabet by Maurice Sendak


Procedures: 1. Introduce the lesson by reading Alligators All Around: An Alphabet by Maurice Sendak, and explaining to children that today they will learn more about they sounds that they hear in words.


2. Remember last week when we worked on some beginning sounds of words? Well today we will continue doing that with the sounds /b/, /m/, and /h/. I would have children say the word bear very slowly and tell them to think about the sound at the beginning of the word. "what do you hear at the beginning of the word?  That’s right, it says /b/. Now can you all say baby? Good. Does it have the same sound at the beginning as bear does? Now let's say bear and baby one more time. Excellent. Now "Judy" can you come and put this picture of a baby under the picture of the bear? Why did we do that? You’re right because they both have the same beginning sounds. Thank you."


3. Continue to sort using the other b words then use the h and m words. Make sure to model each sound and really stretch out the sound h-h-h. 


4. Now take all of the pictures down from the chart except bear, hat and moon. Mix the pictures up. Then hold up the pictures one at a time and ask children which column the picture should go under. "What is this? Right, a ball. Now which picture does this ball go under? Right this picture of the ball goes under the picture of the bear because they both start with the b-b-b sound."


5. Sort all of the picture cards in this way. Check the columns by allowing children to say the name of the heading picture (bear, hat, moon) and then move down the column to make sure that they all begin with the same sound b, h, or m.


6. [Ask children to move to their desks.]  Give each child a three-way-sort sheet and a set of picture cards from Teaching Resources. "Look at each picture card. Say what it is very slowly and listen for the beginning sound. Now place the picture card under the correct heading picture." "Do this for each of your picture cards."


7. Ask to the whole class. "Which column did you put the picture of the bat etc. in?"


8. Give each child another three-way-sort sheet and ask them to place a b, h, and m at the top of a column. "Now I will read some funny sentences. After I have completed each sentence I want you to repeat it. Each time you hear the /b/ sound at the beginning of a word place a dot under the /b/ column. Each time you hear the /h/ sound at the beginning of a word place a dot under the /h/ column. Each time you hear the /m/ sound at the beginning of a word place a dot under the /m/ column." "Do you understand?" "OK." "Let’s begin…"

                        Sentences: Brown bears sometimes eat marvelous marshmallows.

                                         Black bears like to wear happy hats.

                                        Happy children make their marshmallows black in the fire.

Now count up how many dots you have in each column and place the number at the bottom of the column. These papers can be used to assess how well children grasped the concept of beginning sounds within written text. It also helps children realize how doing this type of activity will help them to learn to read.


Reference:  Pinnell, Gay Su. And Fountas, Irene C. © 2003. Phonics lessons letters, words, and how they work. Pp. 137. PA9. Kindergarten edition. 

 Click here to return to Beginnings.