Slithering, Sneaky Snake Says “SSSsssss”



Emergent Literacy

By Janie Colvin


Rationale: Throughout this lesson, children will learn to identify /s/, which is the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to identify /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (slithering like a sneaky snake) and the letter symbol S. Students will also practice how to find /s/ in words, as well as learning how to apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.



Primary paper and pencil; Chart with “Seth Snake slithers sneakily down the sizzling hot sidewalk”; Pipe cleaner; Glue; Eyes; Clipboard; Colored Pencils; Drawing Paper; “What Begins with S” worksheet; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with SO, SIX, SOCK, and SEE.




1.     Say: “Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what each individual letter stands for. We can hear each letter sound by the mouth movements that we make as we say words. Today we are going to learn about the letter /s/, as well as learning about the sound it makes. When I hear or say the letter /s/, it reminds me of the sound a snake makes as it slithers along the ground.”


2.     “To remember that the letter /s/ sounds like a slithering snake, let's pretend that our arms are snakes. Put your hands together and wiggle your arms while making the “Sssssss” sound, like a snake would make (/s/ /s/ /s/ /s/). Let's pay close attention to the movements of our mouths as we make the “Sssssss” sound. When we say /s/, notice where your top teeth are. (Your top teeth are resting on your bottom teeth). Your tongue should be pushing against the back of your bottom teeth. When we say /s/, we are blowing air between our top teeth and our bottom teeth.”


3.     Say: “Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word mask. I am going

to stretch out the word by saying it very slowly. Your job is to watch what I am doing and to listen very carefully for the sound that a snake would make. Mmm-a-a-ask. Ok, now I am going to say our word even slower. Mmm-a-a-a-sss-k. There it was! I felt my tongue pushing against my bottom teeth as I blew air in between my bottom and top teeth. I can definitely feel the slithering, sneaky snake /s/ in mask.


4.     Say: “Ok everyone, let's try a tongue tickler (on chart). “Seth Snake slithers sneakily down the sizzling hot sidewalk.” Great! Now let's say it again, and this time, stretch the /s/ at the beginning of each word. “SSSSeth SSSSnake SSSSlithers  SSSSneakily down the SSSSizzling hot SSSSidewalk.” Excellent!  Try it again and break the /s/ off of each word: “/S/ eth /S/ nake /S/ lithers /S/ neakily down the /S/ izzling hot /S/ idewalk.


5.      [Have all the students take out primary paper and a pencil].  Say: “We will use the letter S to spell /s/. Capital/uppercase S looks like a snake. Let's write uppercase S. In order to write uppercase S, we must first form a c in between the rooftop and the fence. We will then swing back down, forming a backwards c in between the fence and the sidewalk (demonstrate on primary chart paper). I want to see everyone’s’ uppercase S! Great job everyone! I'm going to walk around and look at everyone's S. If I put a smiley face on your paper, then please practice writing nine more S’s just like the first one. Now we are going to write lowercase s. In order to write lowercase s, we need to form a tiny c starting at the fence and going to the center of the fence and the sidewalk. We will then swing back down, forming a backwards c from the middle of the fence and the sidewalk to the bottom of the sidewalk (demonstrate on primary chart paper). Can everyone show me their lowercase s? Great job! I'm going to walk around and look at everyone's s. If I put a smiley face on your paper, then practice writing nine more just like the first one.”


6.     Say: “Now, each of us is going to make our own slithering, sneaky snake. I am going to hand each of you a pipe cleaner, and I want you to form the letter S with it. When you are finished, I will pass out the googly eyes for you to glue onto your snake. After you have completed your craft, you will have a slithering, sneaky /s/ snake.”


7.     Say: “I will now read a couple of  words to see if you can tell which words contain the letter s. If you hear /s/ I want you to raise your slithering, sneaky /s/ snake in the air. Do you hear /s/ in third or second? Dirt or Sand? Stop or Go? Swim or Float? Skip or Run? Side or Front? Winter or Summer?”


8.      Say: “Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with a S. Can you guess? Read the pages regarding the letter S, drawing out /s/. Ask students if they can think of other words with /s/. Ask them to make up silly creature names that begin with /s/. Then, have each student write their silly creature name with invented spelling and draw a picture to show what it might look like. Have students share their work and say each creature’s name together as a group, drawing out the /s/.”


9.      Show SLAP and model for students how to decide if the word is clap or slap. Say: “The S tells me to slither like a sneaky snake. So this word is Ssss -lap. Now you try: SOUR- is this sour or hour? SLOW- is this slow or glow?  SOON- is this soon or moon? SEND- is this send or bend?”


Assessment: I will distribute a worksheet to assess the students’ learning. The students will practice printing the letter S and decide which pictures begin with S. Also, I will call on individual students to come forward and read the words from step #9.


References: (Slithering Snakes By: Samantha Dobbin) (Slithering Snake Says “SSSsssss” By: Maggie McKinney)




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