Sally Snake’s Special Sound

Emergent Literacy

Ellie Buzbee


This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (moving arm like a slithering snake) and the letter symbol S, practicing finding /s/ is words and applying phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Primary paper and pencil, chart with “Sally Snake Slithers Slowly “ drawing paper and crayons;  word cards with SIT, SAG, MAX, SING, SOCK, DOG, SNAKE, TURLTE; assessment clip art worksheet identifying pictures with /s/.


1.  Say: 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 /s/. We spell /s/ with the letter S. S looks like a snake and /s/ sounds like a snake.

2.  Let’s pretend our arm is a snake, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime slithering snake.] Notice where teeth are? (Top teeth touching the bottom). When we say /s/, we blow air between our teeth.

3. Let me show you show to find /s/ in the word fist. I’m going to stretch fist out in super slow motion and listen for my snake. Fff-i-i-i-ssss-ttt. Slower: FFF-iiiii-ssssss-ttt. There it was! I felt my tongue behind my teeth. I can feel snake /s/ in fist.

4.  Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Sally Snake Slithers Slowly” Everyone say it three times together.  Now say it again, but this time stretch the /s/ at the beginning of words. “SSSally SSSnake SSSlithers SSSlowly.” Try it again, this time break if off the word: “/s/sally /s/nake /s/lithers /s/lowly.”

5. [Have student take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter S to spell /s/. Capital S looks like a big snake. Let’s write the lowercase s. Start up high at the rooftop (top of line) and begin to make c. When you get to the fence (middle line), loop back around with a tail and finish on the sidewalk (bottom line). Now we know that the letter s makes the /s/ sound. Keep practicing making an s as I come around. The teacher should walk around and review the students’ work.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in sat or rat? Sock or clock? Sleep or beep? School or fool? Fist or hand?

7.Say: Let’s read a story with about Silly Sally. I will introduce the book, Silly Sally. I am going to be using a big book because it is great for the students to see the pictures and the words as I read. Using big books makes it easier for the children to follow along to what I am reading.

Book Talk: Silly Sally is a crazy girl. She does a crazy thing as she walks into town. Some of her animal friends join her in her silly walk to town. I wonder what silly Sally is. Teacher will proceed to read the story one time through discussing the important details of the story. Then the teacher will pass out note cards with /s/ snakes on it and will have the students raise their card every time they hear the letter or sound /s/. “Ok, now I want to see how well you can pay attention to the sounds that you hear. Look at your cards, what is it a picture of? (a snake) What letter shape is the snake in? (/s/) Ok, I want us to use our cards and I am going to read Silly Sally and I want you to listen to for the sound of the letter /s/. During the reading of the story I am going to use highlight tape to highlight the letter /s/ for the students to see more clearly. When you hear the /sssss/ sound or the letter /s/ I want you hold up your card quietly. Make sure that you think about when you want to put your card up.”

After reading the story and having the students hold up their /s/ cards, I will have my student draw a picture of their favorite /s/ word. I will also ask the students to do their best to write as much as they can about their picture, using invented spelling.


The assessment is going to be an activity that the students will do individually. The students will be given a piece of paper with the /s/ words and a clip art picture on it. The student will circle the /s/ word (sand, sit, sad, nest, etc.). My student will receive a star sticker once that activity is completed.


Wood, Audrey. Silly Sally. New York, NY. Scholastic Inc, 1992. 32 pages.


Cherof, Cassie. “Silly Sarah the Slimy Snake


Clip Art Worksheet for Assessment

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