Jennifer Pegues

Emergent Literacy Design


Slithering S




  Before a child is able to read or write, he/she must be able to identify phonemes and the letters which represent them.  This lesson will teach students to represent the phoneme /s/ in speech and the letter s in written language.  The goal will be met by having the children listen for and repeat the phoneme in speech. 



Primary paper and pencil; chart with Susie the snake slithers swiftly down the street; worksheets with variety of pictures on it; 5 cards with pictures of “s” words on them (sailboat, sun, star, snake, stairs) and 5 cards with non-s words on them (bed, tire, bird, lion, egg),  the book Roar and More by Karla Kuskin



  1. Begin the class with a review of the letters that have previously been learned.  This should include most of the vowels and some consonants.  Discuss both the phoneme and the letter it represents and ask students for examples of words that begin with these phonemes. 
  2. Write the letter p on the board.   Say:  “Do any of you have a name that begins with the letter s?  The letter s says /s/.”  Stretch out the /s/ when you say  the child’s name. 
  3. Ask the students:  “Do you hear the /s/ in the word seven?  (children should answer yes) Good.  When you hear me say a word and it has the /s/ sound, I want you to slither your hands like a snake would.  Does everyone understand?  Let’s practice now:  seven.”  (Wiggle your hands when you say the s in order to model for  the students.)
  4. “Let’s say a tongue twister together now.”  Point to the words on the chart as you say the words.  “Susie the snake slithers swiftly down the street.” “Lets say this together a few times.  Good job.  Now this time, let’s stretch out the /s/ at the beginning of the words.  “Ssssusie the ssssnake sssslithers sssswiftly down the sssstreet.”  “Everyone is doing such a great job.  We are going to say this sentence one more time and break the /s/ off  a the beginning of the word:  “/S/usie the /s/nake /s/lithers /s/wiftly down the /s/treet.”  “Great job!”
  5. Give the students a piece of primary paper and a pencil.  “We use the letter s to spell /s/.  Let’s write it together.  To make the letter s you: first form a tiny cup in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back. When you are done raise your hand and I will come and see it.  After I pat you on your back, I want you to write it 5 more times just the same way so that you can become an expert at writing the letter s.  I know you will do a great job.”
  6. At this point in the lesson, ask the children to raise their hand if they can answer your question.  “Do you hear /s/ in sun or moon? Finish or start?  Sky or ground?  Good job.”  Now show the children the cards and ask them to move their hands like a snake if they hear the /s/ when they say the word. 
  7. Read the book Roar and More by Karla Kuskin.  Have the students wiggle their hands like the snake does when they hear the /s/.  Then have each student draw a picture of a snake and write a message using invented spelling about the snake.  Display their work in the classroom for a short time and then take each student’s paper and add it to their alphabet book.  . 
  8. For assessment, distribute the picture page and help students name each picture and color the pictures that begin with the /s/ sound. 



  1. Estill, Laura.  Finding F.
  2. Kuskin, Karla.  Roar and more.  Harper and Row: New York, 1990.
For further information, send an e-mail to Jennifer Pegues

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