Emergent Literacy

by Avery Gwaltney





This lesson will help children identify /h/, the phoneme represented by H. Students will learn to recognize /h/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (laughing) and the letter symbol H, practice finding /h/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /h/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.



*Primary paper and pencil

*drawing paper and crayons

*chart with “Henry helped Holly hold the hot potato.”

*Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House, 1963)

*word cards with HOOP, HOT, HEAL, HULA, HOPE, and HEAD

*assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /h/ (URL below).



  1. Say: “Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for--the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we’re going to work on spotting the mouth move /h/.  We will spell /h/ with letter H.  H looks like a ladder with one rail, and /h/ sounds like laughing. HAHA.”
  2. Alright, let’s pretend to laugh, /h/, /h/, /h/. [Holding tummy and laughing] Ask: “Do you notice where your tongue is?” (Touching back of lower teeth). When we say /h/, we blow air over our tongue. Try making the /h/ sound with me again.
  3. Let me show you how to find /h/ in the word happy.  I’m going to stretch help out in really slow motion and I want you to listen for the air coming from my mouth in a /h/ sound.  Hh-aa-pp-yy.  Slower: H-h-h-aaa-ppp-y. There it was!  I felt air blowing out of my mouth over my tongue as I made the /h/ sound. I can feel the laughing /h/ in HAPPY.
  4.  Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Henry helped Holly hold the hot potato.” Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /h/ at the beginning of the words. “Hhhenrey hhhelped Hhholly hhhold the hhhot potato.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/h/ enry /h/ elped /h/ ollyy /h/ old the /h/ ot potato.
  5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter H to spell /h/. Capital H also looks like a ladder with one step.  Let’s write the lowercase letter h. Start just below the sidewalk and draw a straight line down to the gutter. Without moving your pencil, begin drawing a curved line up to the fence and curve back around down to the sidewalk. I want to see everybody’s h. When you are done, I will put a sticker on your page if you drew the letter correctly. Then I would like you to draw six more lower case h’s.
  6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /h/ in hay or grass? horse or bunny? hungry or tired? holiday or season ? happy or sad? Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /h/ in some words. Laugh if you hear /h/ in the following words: hug, dance, swing, honey, jump, fast, slow, hooray, pink, happy.
  7.  Say: “Let’s look at a book.  Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature who does not like green eggs and ham.”  As I read, I want you to laugh out loud if you hear the /h/ sound. Ask the children to make up funny words, emphasizing the letter h. Then have each student write out their funny /h/ word and draw a picture to illustrate their word.
  8. Show HOOP and model how to decide if it is HOOP or LOOP: The H tells me to laugh, /h/, so this word is hhh-oo-p, hoop.  You try some: HOT: hot or cat? HEAL: heal or feet? HULA: hula or jump? HOPE: hope or joke? HEAD: head or feed?
  9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with H. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Bruce Murray.  Emergent Literacy Lesson. “Brush Your Teeth with F”. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html


Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/prek_wrksht/learning-letters/h.htm



Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham. New York. Random House. 1960. pg. 18.


Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House, 1963) pg. 18.

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