Icky Sticky Fingers

Beginning Reading Lesson

 Molly McCormick


            In order for children to develop phonemic awareness, it is important for them to have an understanding of short vowel sounds.  This is a vital concept to ensure their success in reading.  This lesson will help students identify the correspondence i= /i/ in spoken and written words through illustrating the phoneme-grapheme correspondence with memorable and meaningful tools.  Children will also learn to spell and read words with i=/i/ by teaching a letterbox lesson and reading a new book.



•  Primary paper and pencil

      •  Chart with the tongue twister “Izzy the Iguana licks sticky insects inside an igloo”
Liz is Six (Educational Insights)

   Picture page with illustrations (pig, duck, bed, hill, twig, bib, fish, pan, witch, wizard)

   “Icky sticky” picture of ice cream dripping off of an ice cream cone



  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that is is important in reading to understand the different sounds letters make when we see them in words.  “Today we are going to learn a fun way to say the letter i in a word!  Has anyone had ice cream drip down their hands when you are eating an ice cream cone on a hot day?  When that happens to me my hands get stuck together.  What do you say when your hands are stuck together from the ice cream?  That’s right, iiiiiiiiiiicky stiiiiiiiiiiiiiicky fingers!  That is the sound the short i makes that we are going to focus on today.  Let’s all pretend that we have sticky ice cream dripping down our hands and say together ‘iiiiiiiiiiicky stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicky.’  Great job class!!  You are all saying the short i sound correctly.  Each time we see an i like this, visualize our sticky ice cream fingers like in this picture (show the picture of dripping ice cream, featured at the top of this page).”
  2. “Now let’s all look at a fun tongue twister that has lots of our iiiiiiicky stiiiiicky i’s in it.  Everybody read the tongue twister together: ‘Izzy the Iguana licks sticky insects inside an igloo.’  This time when we say the tongue twister together let’s all make the ‘icky stick’ hand motion and stretch out the /i/ sound like we just practiced.  Iiiiiizzy the iiiiiiiiiiiiiguana liiiiiiiiiiiicks stiiiiiiiiiiicky iiiiiiiiiinsects iiiiiiiiiiinside an iiiiiiiiiiiigloo.  Try it again, and this time break is off the word: ‘/i/ zzy the /i/ guana l /i/ cks st /i/ cky /i/ nsects /i/ nside an /i/ gloo.  I am so proud of you, class!  You were all participating and saying beautiful i’s in the tongue twister.
  3. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil.]  “We can use the letter i to spell /i/.  Let’s write it.”  Model the writing on the board with the same primary paper format on the board for all the students to see.  “Start at the fence.  Draw down the sidewalk.  Now lifting your pencil, give your line a dot above the sidewalk.  I want to see everybody’s i.  When I come by and draw a smiley face on your paper, write nine more i’s just like it.  When you see letter i all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /i/.”
  4. Let me show you how to fin /i/ in the word fish.  I’m going to stretch fish out in super slow motion and listen for the icky sticky sound.  F-f-f-i-sh.  F-f-f-i-i-i . . . there it is!  I do hear the icky sticky ice cream in fish.
  5. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew:  “Do you hear /i/ in bit or bake?   Pig or bag?  Swap or swim?  Nose or lip?  Big or small?”  Pass out a card to each student.  “Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /i/ in some words.  Rub your ‘icky sticky’ hands together if you hear /i/.  Lizard, split, upset, boy, list, glass, scissors, pen, twig.
  6. “We’re going to read a short story about a little girl named Liz.  Do any of you like to play baseball or softball?  Liz loves to play baseball with her pig.  Let’s read the story and find out about Liz and her baseball skills.”  Read Liz is Six and talk about the story.  Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /i/.  List their words on the board.
  7. For assessment, distribute the picture page and help students name each picture.  Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names ha /i/.



•  Betbeze, Meg.  Icky Sticky Fingers! (Beginning Reading

•  Eldredge, J. Lloyd, Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Upper Saddle River, NJ. 1995.

     Melton, Shealy.  The Glue is Sticky!! (Beginning Reading)

     (1990). Phonics Reader Short Vowel Liz Is Six. Carson, CA (USA), St Albans, Herts. (UK): Educational Insights.

Dr. Murray's Reading Genie
Auburn University