Buzzy B's
Emergent Literacy Design

Meg Miller


Rationale: To learn to read and spell words, children need the alphabetic insight that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  Before children can match letters to phonemes, they have to recognize phonemes. This lesson focuses on the /b/ phoneme.  The goal of this lesson, is that children will learn to identify /b/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding /m/ in printed words.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Betty blew bubbles before beginning her busy afternoon"; class set of cards with b on one side and a question mark on the other; drawing paper and crayons; The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss; copies of a bee handout (clipart); printed pictures with bug, door, bath tub, book, pillow, bus, lamp, and rug.


1.      Introduce the lesson by explaining that 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 /b/.  Today we are going to search for /b/ in words!

2.      Ask students: Have you ever seen a bumblebee?  Do they b-b-b-uzz?  Whenever we hear /b/, we can buzz like bees! 

3.      Let's try a tongue twister [on chart.]  "Betty blew bubbles before beginning her busy afternoon."  Let's say it three times together.  Now, this time let's stretch out our buzzy /b/'s at the beginning of our words.  "Bbbetty bbblew bbbubbles bbbefore bbbeginning her bbbusy afternoon." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: " /b/ etty /b/ lew /b/ ubbles /b/ efore /b/ eginning her /b/ usy afternoon."

4.      Have students take out their primary paper and pencils.  We can use the letter b to spell /b/.  Let's write it on our paper.  Start at the roof.  Draw a line all the way down to the ground.  Go back up over our line all the way to the fence and make a circle.  I want to see everybody's b.  After I put a sticker on it, I want you to make eight more just like it.  When you see letter b all by itself in a word, that's our signal to say /b/ like the bees.

5.      Call on students to answer and tell how they knew:

~Do you ever hear /b/ in bird or dog?

~Do you ever hear /b/ in dump or bump?

~Do you ever hear /b/ in lazy or busy?

~Do you ever hear /b/ in bun or sun?

Pass out b/? cards to each student.  Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /b/ in some words.  Show me the /b/ if you hear the sound or the ? if you don't.  Give the words one at a time: Betty, blew, bubbles, before, beginning, her, busy, afternoon.

6.      Read The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss and talk about the story.  Read it    once again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /b/.  List their words they find on a marker board.  Have pre-made handouts with a bee on them for students to write in a message about the book using invented spelling.  Display their work in the classroom.

7.      For assessment, distribute the picture page [made with clipart] and have students name each picture.  Circle the pictures that include /b/.

Reference: Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website.

Click here to return to Beginnings.