The Icky Sticky Ice Cream Cone

Rachel Bier

Emergent Literacy


Children need the alphabetic insight that the smallest units of sounds (phonemes) are represented by the written letter or letters (graphemes) that make up a word. The child must first recognize the sound or phoneme and identify it in spoken language. This lesson will help children identify /i/ (short i).They will learn to recognize /i/ by first learning a meaningful representation and the letter symbol.


Primary Paper and Pencil for each student; chart with “The inchworms were itching to get inside the Indians igloo”; drawing paper and crayons; Tin Man Fix-It, Educational Insights, 1990; Picture page with frog, bug, wig, dog, igloo, milk, wagon, hill, fan, mit.

I will introduce the lesson by explaining that how we write spoken words is by using a secret code. I will explain that sometimes the code can be tricky but it is important that we learn the way our mouth moves when we say certain sounds. If we can figure out the way our mouth moves, the code should be pretty easy for us to break. Today we are going to work on breaking the code for /i/. We are going to see the way our mouth moves when we say /i/. At first it may seem like the /i/ is hiding in words, but soon we will be able to find /i/ in all kinds of words.

I will ask the students: How many of you like to eat ice cream cones? I know I do! But I HATE it when my ice cream starts to melt over the cone and it gets all over my hands. When that happens my hands get all icky sticky. Does that happen to you too? When that happens I need to shake off my hands and say /i/. Let’s pretend we are eating an ice cream cone and our hands just got all icky sticky. Let’s shake off our hands and say i-i-i-i-icky sticky!

I will say to the students: Good, we got our icky sticky hands shaken off. Now, let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “The inchworms were itching to get inside the Indians igloo.” Okay, now let’s all say it together. This time when we say it I want everyone to stretch out the /i/ sound at the beginning of each word that you hear it. “The iiinchworms were iiitching to get iiinside the Iiindians iiigloo.” This time when we say it lets try breaking the /i/ sound off each word: The /i/ nchworms were /i/ tching to get the /i/ ndians /i/ gloo. 

[Have students take out primary pencil and pencil]. We use the letter i when we are spelling words to make the /i/ sound. I want everyone to practice writing their i’s. To make an i you start at the fence and draw a straight line down to the sidewalk. Don’t forget to go back and give your i  a hat, a dot will do. Everyone try that. Once I come by and put a sticker next to your i I want you to fill the rest of the row with i’s just like it. When you see the letter i when you are reading it is going to make the icky sticky /i/ sound.

To students: Remember how we said sometimes the /i/ sound can hide in words? Well now that we know what our mouth does when we make the /i/ sound, let’s see if we can find that hiding /i/ in some words. Let me show you how I find the hiding /i/ so you can do the same thing. Let’s take the word fix. I am going to say all the sounds I hear very slowly. F-f-f-i-i-i. There it is! It was right there in fix.

6. To students: I am going to say a series of two words. After I say them, I want you to raise one hand if you hear /i/ in the first word I say and raise two hands if you hear /i/ in the second word I say. Is everyone ready?

Do you hear /i/ in…

winter or summer?

brother or sister?

flat or hill?  

big or small?          

I will read give a brief book talk for Tin Man Fix-It: Tim the tin man and his friend Jim are working in the garden when Sid, the big kid, comes by and hits Tim. Tim falls down and gets broken. Will his friend Jim be able to help him? Let’s read to find out! After we read it and we talk about it, we will read it again. This time when we read the story I want everyone to make icky sticky hands every time they hear the /i/ sound. I will write the words that you do icky sticky hands to on the board. Next I want everyone to draw a picture of something they have fixed or would like to fix and then write a message about it. They will write the message using invented spelling.

As an assessment tool I will hand out picture pages for each student. The students will circle the pictures on the page that when you say what the picture is you hear the /i/ sound.


Kohtala, Mareena. I’ve Got a Bad Taste in my Mouth! Aaa!

Murray, Dr. Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition.

Tin Man Fix-It, Educational Insights, 1990.

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