“Tick, Tock,” Says the Clock!

Emergent Literacy Design

Nell Fleming


Rationale: Letter recognition is one of the two best predictors of beginning reading success (Adams, 36). It is very important for children to learn to recognize letters in print and to associate them with their corresponding sounds. In this lesson, children will be introduced to the phoneme /t/. They will be able to say /t/, recognize the letter t and write upper and lower case t.

Materials: Primary paper, pencils, chart with the sentence “Tim was told to talk to his teacher Tuesday at two”, class set of cards with upper and lower case t on one side, a handout with pictures on it (tail, flower, tree, slide, hat, tape, chicken, turtle, coat, snake, tub), the book Time For Bed, by M. Fox, Harcourt Brace, 1993.


 1. Explain: Words that we say and write are made up of twenty-six different letters. Each letter makes its own sound.  It is important to learn to recognize each letter and remember the sound it makes. Today we are going to learn about the letter t. I am going to help you remember the sound it makes by teaching you about how your mouth moves when you say the sound.

 2. Review: Remind students of how they can pay attention to the way their mouth is moving when they are speaking.

 3. Explain: How many of you have listened very closely to a watch? Has anyone listened to the sound a big grandfather clock makes? It sounds like /t/ /t/ /t/. This is the same sound the letter t makes. Say the sound with me /t/ /t/ /t/. This time think about how the tip of your tongue hits the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth. Every time you feel your mouth do this, you are saying the letter t’s sound. Now, make a swinging motion with your finger like the one in a big grandfather clock /t/ /t/ /t/. Great!

 4. Model: Now let’s try a tongue twister. Listen closely to this sentence, then I want you to repeat it. “Tim was told to talk to his teacher Tuesday at two.” (Use chart with sentence for students to see). I want to hear you say it two more times. Good! Now, listen as I find the /t/’s in the sentence I will stretch out the t-t-t-t’s that I hear. “T-T-T-Tim was t-t-t-told t-t-t-to t-t-t-talk t-t-t-to his t-t-t-teacher T-T-T-Tuesday at t-t-t-two.” Now you try! Stretch out those t-t-t-t’s and swing the clock’s pendulum! Good job! This time, we are going to break off the /t/ from the rest of the word. /T/-im was /t/-old /t/-o /t/-alk /t/-o his /t/-eacher /T/-uesday at /t/-wo.

 5. Simple practice: Have students take out primary paper and pencils. We are going to learn how to spell /t/. Upper case T is very easy! (Model as you explain) Start at the roof, t-t-tumble to the ground, then cross it at the very top! Now, let me see you try it! Great! Keep practicing until you have ten T’s. (Observe and provide help when needed). Ok, now let’s try lower case t. It is a lot like upper case T, but not as tall. Start just below the roof, t-t-tumble to the ground, then cross it in the middle. Let me see you try ten t’s. (Observe and provide help when needed).

 6. Simple practice: Give students cards with upper and lower case t written on one side. Now we are going to play a game where I will give you a word, and if you hear a /t/in the word, hold up those cards. If not, keep your cards in your lap. tap, baby, ten, teddy, cow, rug, tub, desk, table, tight, loose, tickle

 7. Whole texts: Read Time For Bed. Read it a second time and give students directions. This story has some words that have our /t/ sound in them. This time, when you hear a word that has /t/ in it, hold up your cards, and then I will ask you which word you found /t/ in. We will make a list of words with /t/ in them to put up on our word wall.

 8. Assessment: Give students the picture page. Discuss what each picture on the page is. Tell students to circle the words that have /t/ in them. Also, have them practice making the letter t on primary paper.


Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning To Read, Thinking and Learning about Print. Urbana- Champaign, IL: Center for the study of Reading, 1990. pg. 36.                                        ;         

Butcher, Shona. Tick Tock Goes the Clock. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insp/ butcherel.html.

Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teach Decoding: Why and How. Columbus, OH:  Pearson, 2005. pg. 60-82.

Murray, Bruce and students. Hand Gestures for Phonemes. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/gestures.html.

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