Sally Snake

Emergent Literacy Lesson

 Wendy Robinson


Rationale:  For children to read, they must first have an understanding and be familiar with the different vocal gestures that make up written words.  This lesson will teach students the vocal gesture that is used for /s/.  This lesson will also introduce the students to the written letter symbol S.  This lesson will develop the students’ phoneme awareness of /s/ by giving them instruction and practice on how to form the /s/ vocal gesture and a creative hand movement to help them remember the vocal gesture.



Primary Paper


Drawing Paper

Reading A-Z Decodable book In The Sea by Brian Roberts (2002)

Assessment page(see below) with /s/ sound pictures and other pictures (snail, star, car, dog, sandwich and snake)

Tongue Twister on Sentence Strip:  Silly Sally Swims Sideways on Sunday.

Picture Cards with the following objects that begin with /s/:  storm, sun, cats, star



“The written language is like a secret code.  Today I need your help to break part of this code.  With every sound we say, our mouth moves differently.  Today we are going to discover what sound we hear in the word snake, /s/.  Can you say /s/?  The first sound we hear in the word snake is /s/.  In order to create the /s/ sound we need to put the tip of our tongue above our top teeth and blow air to make a hissing sound like a snake.  Like this.” Model for the children how to say /s/.  “Today we are going to learn how to find the /s/ sound in words like snake.”


Ask the children “What does a snake say as it slithers through the grass?  That’s right!  It says /s/.  Now we are going to pretend to be snakes slithering in the grass.  Move your hands like this (back and forth) and pretend to be a snake.” (Model to them how to pretend to be a snake in the grass).  “Make sure you say /s/ while pretending to be a snake.


“Now we are going to try a tongue twister.  I’ll read it first and then we will all say it together.  Silly Sally Swims Sideways on Sunday.  Now you say it with me.  Silly Sally Swims Sideways on Sunday.  Good Job!  Now we are going to say it together again, but this time when we hear /s/, we are going to pretend to be snakes.”  (Repeat this activity until you are confident that the children can identify the initial /s/ sound in each of the words in the tongue twister).


“Now we are going to learn about the letter that makes the /s/ sound.  Does anyone know what letter makes the /s/ sound?”  Give each student a piece of primary paper and a pencil.  “Today we are going to be drawing S’s on our paper.”  Draw an S on the board.  “This is the letter S.  It makes the /s/ sound like in snake.  This is how you draw the letter S.  First form a c up in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back.  Now everyone try to draw the letter S.”  Check to see that all students are getting the concept.  Have them practice making ten or so on their own.   “Remember this is the letter that tells us to say /s/ like in the word snake.”


“Sally.  Did you hear /s/ at the beginning of Sally?  Wow!  I did too.  What about zoo?  Do you hear /s/ in zoo?  Me either.  Let’s try more words.  I am going to say some words.  I want you to raise your hand if you know which word has the /s/ sound.”  Say the words slowly enunciating each sound.  “Do you hear /s/ in the word sail or tail?”  (sat or cat, sand or hand, hats or cap).


“I am going to say a word that has /s/ in it.  I want you to pretend to be a snake slithering through the grass every time you hear /s/.”  Say each word slowly so they can hear the sounds:  sun, storm, cats, star. (Show picture cards after you say the word)


“Now we are going to read a book.”  Read the decodable book In The Sea by Brian Roberts.  Reread the book and have students slither to every /s/ word they hear.  “I am going to read the book again.  This time when you hear /s/ I want you to pretend to be a snake slithering through the grass.”  After reading, ask the students to tell you the /s/ words they heard in the story and write them on the board. 


“Now I want you to draw a picture of your imaginary snake and write about the /s/ words you heard today.”  Encourage the students to use invented spellings as well as the words written on the board.


Give each child a copy of the S assessment.

“The snakes are trying to slither their way home.  Can you help them find their way through the /s/ sounds to get home?”  Explain to the children that they have to circle all of the words with /s/ in them.

Letter S Assessment Sheet











Roberts, Brian, Reading (2002).


Hamby, Courtney, Vacuuming the V’s


Murray, Bruce, The Reading Genie


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