Emergent Literacy - Lesson for teaching letter recognition

Lauren Hendriks


“Sticky Spaghetti Snakes!”



Most children seem to be familiar with the s = /s/ concept; however, many children have trouble recognizing it on the end of words, especially plurals. This lesson is intended to familiarize students with the phoneme /s/ using hands on activities. My goal for this is to help students recognize, identify, and locate that s = /s/ in spoken or written words. By the end of the lesson, the students will also be able to correctly write the letter s.


1. Tape

2. Poster Board

3. A large letter “S” on a piece of red construction paper

4. Over-cooked spaghetti noodles (at least 2 for each child)

5. Primary paper and pencils

6. Worksheet with pictures of words that have "s" in the beginning, middle, and end

     http://www.coloring.ws/t/abc/s-snake.htm (picture of a snake shaping the letter S, “s”   is at the beginning)

     http://www.coloring.ws/t/animals/color-possum.htm (picture of a possum, “s” is in the middle)

     http://www.coloring.ws/t/sports/ballet/1.htm (picture of a hippopotamus, “s” is at the end)

7. Text containing many words with the phoneme /s/. Suggestions:  The Stray Dog : From a True Story by Reiko Sassssa; Author: Simont, Marc, or  Sometimes I’m Silly; Author:  Cousin, Patricia T.

8. Chart with:  “Sammy the sneaky snake slithered into the slippery spaghetti”

9. A basket or box containing objects with phoneme /s/ at the beginning, middle, and end

10. Blank worksheet for students to paste the /s/ words on for assessment.


1. Begin the lesson by saying, "Boys and girls, today we are going to pretend to be sly slithering snakes in search of words with letters that make the same sounds that a snake makes." Next ask your students "What sound does a snake make?" Have them make the sound several times. Ask them, "Where is your tongue when you make the /s/ sound?" "Is air coming out of your mouth or nose?"  Then explain that snakes do what is called hissing. Now model the phoneme /s/ for them as the hissing sound that they will be making today as snakes.

2. On a poster have the word HISS written with the last two graphemes of “s” decorated like snakes so that your students can associate the phoneme with its grapheme by a familiar picture. Next say, "Boys and girls, let’s say hiss." "Do you hear the snake sound in the word hiss?" "Watch me hiss one more time." "Are we all making the same sound, /s/?"

3. Are you ready for a challenge? Let’s try a tongue twister. Refer to the tongue twister you have written on the chart. "Sammy the sneaky snake slithered into the slippery spaghetti.“ Everybody say it three times together. Now we are going to say it again, but this time stretch out the /s/ at the beginning of the words. "Ssssammy the ssssneaky ssssnake sssslithered into the sssslippery sssspaghetti." Let’s try it one more time, and this time break the /s/ off the word: "/s/-ammy the /s/-neaky /s/-nake /s/-lithered into the /s/-lippery /s/-paghetti." Great Job!

4. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil). "We can use the letter s to spell /s/. Let's write it. I will draw it first, so watch as I draw it (first capital, and then lowercase). For the uppercase S, you will form a c up in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back. Now it's your turn." Let the students write several uppercase S ‘s. Now boys and girls, we are going to write the lowercase s . For this you will fokrm a tiny c up in the air, then swing back like this. Students will write several lowercase s’s. Then model a word with an s in each of the three places, beginning, middle, and end, and have your students copy the words onto their paper.

Example words – snow, slip, sip, Sunday, September, rose, lost, purse, please, first, kiss, grass, kids, mess, bus.

5. Give each student two spaghetti noodles and a copy of the letter S (have a copy of the snake worksheet each student). Ask them to form their spaghetti noodles into the shape of the letter S on the paper. Once they are done, they have to try to make another letter S with their spaghetti on the back of the paper without being able to see the written letter.

6. Now have your children pick one item from your basket of objects that contain the phoneme /s/. Model the first item you pick up – I have just picked up a sock. The /s/ in this word comes at the beginning. Now, I want you to share what you have picked up and tell the class where the /s/ sound is in your word.  Have your children share what they chose and discuss where the phoneme /s/ is in the word. For example, if someone chose scissors, it has /s/ in the beginning, middle, and end. If someone else picked a bus, explain how you hear /s/ at the end.

7. Now it is time to use an easy book to emphasize the snake sound /s/ in texts. Introduce a book such as The Stray Dog : From a True Story by Reiko Sassa by Marc Simont, which contains words that contain the phoneme /s/. You can introduce the book by saying, "Boys and girls, I am going to read you a short story about a family going on a picnic then adopting a scruffy stray dog and calling him Willy. I want you to keep your ears open for words that make the same sounds as snakes. Every time you hear a word with the snake sound I want you to hiss like a snake, making the /s/ sound! Okay, listen closely!"

8. For assessment give your students the three worksheets with pictures of animals that you hear s = /s/ in (follow link included above). Also include two pictures of animals that do not have the letter “s” in their name (examples:  dog and ladybug). Have one sheet where they cut out the pictures and one with 3 columns. One column beginning, one middle, and one ending. Next tell your students what each picture is and have them say back to you what they are. Now have them cut out the pictures and place them into the correct column according to where they hear s=/s/ in the word.


Aimee Maner. "MiSS"chievous Snakes

“Letter S Spaghetti Party” by Ginger Terry ESL Teacher. Lewisville, Texas


Kid’s Zone Coloring Pages


Return to Constructions


Name ______________________

Finding the S in words!

Directions:  Cut out all five pictures. After sounding the name of the picture out loud, pick which category the picture will go in.

/s/ at the beginning                           /s/ in the middle                                             /s/ at the end