Navigating with N

Michael Norris

Emergent Literacy Design

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify the phoneme /n/ represented by the letter N. Students will learn to identify /n/ in spoken words, practice finding /n/ in words, learn to recognize /n/ in spoken words using the sound a boat makes, and applying phonemic awareness with /n/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters. 

Materials: Tongue Tickler written on poster board: "Nick never worried Nora about her niece's neck," primary paper and pencils, Letter N Book, Note Cards: Net, Nap, Not, Nice, Nest, Nine, Nickel, and Assessment worksheet: (

Procedures: 1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. We have to learn what letters stand for, and it can be tricky. The letters stand for the way our mouths move when we say a word. Today we are going to learn about the letter 'n' and to me the sound makes, /n/. To me /n/ sounds a bit like the sound a speedboat makes.

2. Let's pretend we are driving a speedboat, /n/, /n/, /n/. (Pantomime steering a speedboat) Notice where your tongue is (located at the roof of your mouth) and the tongue makes a tickle feeling for the sound /n/.

3. Let me show you how to find /n/ in the word net. I am going to stretch out the word net in a slow motion and listen for the sound the speedboat makes. Nnn-e-e-t. Slower: Nnn-e-e-e-t. I felt it! I felt my tongue touch the roof of my mouth and my tongue tickle.

4. Let's try a tongue tickler now. Nick never worried Nora about her niece's neck. Great Job! Now let's say it twice in a row. Very Good! Now let's stretch it out the /n/ at the beginning of the words 'NNNick nnnever worried NNNora about her nnniece's nnneck.' Try it again and break the /n/ off of the word: "/N/-ick /n/ever worried /N/-ora about her /n/-iece's /n/-eck.

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter N to spell /n/. Capital N starts at the rooftop and comes straight down.  Then put your pencil back at the point you started your N, except make a slanted line away from the first line all the way to the sidewalk.  Come back up to the roof with a straight line.  Now let's make a lowercase n. Start at the fence and draw a straight line down to the sidewalk.  Then start at the fence and make one hump down to the sidewalk.  I want to see everybody's n. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew. Do you hear /n/ in nap or hay? Mean or nice? Hun or mad? Time or nine? Say: Let's see if you can spot the sound of /n/ in some words and don't forget to drive our speedboat if you hear /n/: belt, near, run, far, nail, tear, ten, niece, pick, sun. Good Job!

7. Now we are going to look at the N book. At this point I will have students listen to the story "The Best Nest".  While reading I will have the students do the "speedboat" sound and movement when they see or hear the letter N in the story.

8. Show NAP and model how to decide if it is nap or map: The N tells me to drive a speed boat, /n/, so this word is nnn-ap, nap. You try some: NOT: not or cot? Neck: neck or peck? NOW: cow or now? NET: net or pet? CAN: cat or can?

9. For the assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the spellings and color the drawings only with the picture that has the /n/ sound.




Worksheet: (, Book: The Best Nest by: P.D. Eastman,

Helpful Lesson: Abbie Simpson




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