D-d-d-dribble the Basketball


Emergent Literacy Design

Liz Copenhaver



It is important for emergent readers to fluently recognize letters and match them with their corresponding phonemes because “knowledge of letters and phonemic awareness have been found to bear a strong and direct relationship to success and ease of reading acquisition” (Adams, p. 44).  This lesson will teach students to recognize and write the letter d  in print and recognize its corresponding phoneme /d/ in spoken words.


Primary writing paper


Poster with tongue twister “Dogs dance down the dark doors daily” written on it

Down by the Bay by Raffi.

Sheets of pictures of a cat, dog, bed, book, duck


1.  Say:  For the past few days, we have been working on letters.  It is important for us to know our letters in print and their vocal sounds because this knowledge will help when we are learning to read.

2.  We will review letters that have been previously taught.  Say:  Does anyone remember what letter we learned yesterday?  Raise your hand if you know the letter and vocal sound it makes.  Another letter?

3.  Have students take out their writing paper and pencil.  Write the letter c on the board.  The students have already learned the letter c.   Say:  What letter is this?  That’s right, the letter c.  To draw the letter c we go up and touch the fence, then around and up.  We are going to now use little c to make the letter we are working on today, little d.  Everybody watch me first draw it.  First little c then little d.  You just add a line from the sky down to the ground.  Draw the d on the board.  Now I want everybody to draw 10 d’s on their paper.

4.  Say:  Now that we know how to make the letter d we need to know what sound it makes.  It makes the /d/ sound.  It’s like bouncing a basketball, /d/ /d/ d/.  Demonstrate bouncing an imaginary basketball with hands as saying it.  Say:  Now, everyone get their hands ready to bounce their basketball and say it with me.  /d/ /d/ /d/.  Bounce your basketball.

5.  Take out tongue twister poster with “Dogs dance down the dark doors daily” written on it.  Say:  Let’s try a tongue twister where almost every word starts with the letter d and the /d/ sound.  Listen once and then repeat after me.  Dogs dance down the dark doors daily.  Good.  Now let’s stretch out the /d/ sound at the beginning of the words.  Ddddogs ddddance ddddown the ddddark ddddoors ddddaily.  Now let’s break off the /d/ sound at the beginning of the words like this /d/ ogs.  Ready. /d/ ogs /d/ ance /d/ own the /d/ ark /d/ oors /d/ aily.  Repeat.

6.  Say:  Now we are going to find words that start with the letter d and the /d/ sound. A few word examples are sat and dad, dig and big, buzz and ditch, did and kit.  Say:  For example, I hear /d/ in dull but not in boy.  /d/ /ul/.  Do you hear /d/ in sat or dad?etc.

7.  Next read aloud the book Down by the Bay.  Have students bounce their basketball when they hear /d/ and see a d begin a word on the page.  If students catch on, this reading can be a shared reading activity.  Say:  As I am reading, I want you to pay close attention to the words that start with /d/.  Bounce your basketballs when I get to those words. 

8.  For assessment, pass out sheets with pictures of things that begin with d and things that don’t.  Have students circle pictures beginning with the letter d.  Example pictures are cat, dog, door, bed, book, duck, etc…


Adams, Marilyn Jager.  Beginning to Read:  Thinking and Learning About Print.  Center for the Study of Reading, 1990.  p. 44.

Freeman, Jessica.  Play Ball! http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/explor/freemanel.html

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