Isabelle the Icky Iguana

Beginning Reading: Decoding with Short Vowels
Jill Overstreet


Rationale: This lesson is designed to help children understand the sound and spelling of/i/. Short vowels are a very hard concept for children to learn. They have to understand that letters stand for phonemes and how you spell words stand for the sounds we say when speaking. In this lesson, students will be able to find the /i/ (short i) sound in spoken words, give it a meaningful name, and then be ale to find the same sounds in written words.

Materials: primary paper and pencil; poster board with the tongue twister “Isabelle iguana is in her igloo.” Tin Man Fix It- one for each students; Elkonin letter boxes for each child; plastic letters for each child letters p,n,f,s,h,c,m,t,l; individual picture pages (pig,chin,pin,fish,lip,mitt) with the correct number of letter boxes underneath the picture; and picture words (pig,lip,chin,mitt,,fish,pin) written on note cards,



1. Introduce by saying that our language is sometimes really tricky, but there are fun ways to make it easier. Tell the students that we use letters to write down written words, and those letters represent different sounds. Then say, “today we’re going to match the letter i in different words and help you remember how it sounds. By learning this sound and how to write it, you will learn to write more words than you are able to now.

2. Write the letter I on the board. Tell the students the little i makes the /i/ sound. Ask students: Have you ever blown a big bubble with bubble gum and it pops all over your mouth? What did it feel like? Would you say it was icky and stick? Let’s try and stretch out the words icky and sticky to see if we can hear the /i/ sound. I will try it first. I am going to say icky as slowly as I can. /Iiiiiiccckkkyyy/. Did you hear the /i/ sound? Now let’s try the word sticky./ssttttiiiccckkkyyy/. Good! We are going to call the /i/ our icky, sticky sound.

3. Now let’s try something else really fun. I want everyone to read what this poster says, “Isabelle iguana is in her igloo.” Each student takes a turn saying the tongue twister. Then as a class, stretch out the /i/ sound at the beginning of the words while using the shaking hand movement for each /i/ sound. “Iiisabelle iiiguana iiiis iiiin her iiigloo.”

4. Next student get out their primary paper and pencil. Tell students that they can use the letter i to spell the sound /i/.Students write the letter. “Start at the fence and make a line to the ditch. Then put a dot about the fence where you started. When everyone is done show the person next to you. “Does it look about the same? Now, take turns writing the letter i on each other’s papers.” Walk around and observe student’s work and model while students are working as well. “Whenever you see the letter i in a word, that is when you can pretend to have icky sticky fingers and shake them off.”

5. Next, each student receives an Elkonin letterbox with the letter tiles. Say, “now we’’ practice the /i/ sound to spell words. Let’s say I wanted to spell pig. First, I am going to unfold three letter boxes because pig has three sounds in it, /p/ /i/ /g/. I will put the first sound I hear P-P-Pig in the first box. The next sound is /i/ like our icky sticky fingers. This goes in the second box. There is one box left, and one sound G-G-G. All of you have similar letterboxes and letters. I want you to spell the words as I say them like I just modeled for you. Let’s open our letterboxes to three letterboxes. Have them spell pin, lip,pig,chin,fish, and mitt. Then have students explain how they came up with their spellings. Continue with four to five phoneme words.

6.Next pass out the book Tin Man Fix It by Sheila Chushman to the students. “Now, let’s work on reading our /i/ sound words. Since we all know how to recognize the letter i in words, we can all say the /i/ sound when we see the letter. Allow students to read in pairs of two. After reading, have students write a few words with the /i/ sound. Give a short book talk before the story. After the book is read, and words written, compile a list of all the words on the board.

7. Call on students to answer questions and tell how they knew. DO you hear /i/ in chin or teeth? In or out? Trick or treat? Big or small? Now let’s see if you can find the mouth move in some words. Raise your hand if you hear the /i/ sound in these words. If you don’t hear the sound, just leave your hand on your desk. Izzy, the, icky, sticky, Indian, was, in, his, igloo.

8.. If the word has the /i/ sound have them write it. Also Tin Man Fix It can be read by the students the next day for a running record. You can give the students a list of words and have them read it to you. This is a good way to review what they learned.


Icky Fingers by Jenni Anderson

The Icky Sticky Indian by Melissa Hensley

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