Slithering Snakes


Emergent Literacy

                                   Hannah Jackson                                  



The goal of this lesson is for students to identify /s/. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (slithering snake) and the letter symbol  S, practice finding /s/ in words through reading, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Picture of a slithering snake, chart with the chant: “Susie saw striped sunflowers” primary paper, pencil, whiteboard, dry erase marker, Scoot, by Cathryn Falwell


1. Introduce lesson, “Good morning friends! Today we are going to learn about a new letter, the letter S and the sound it makes and how to make it. We spell /s/ with a S.

2. “Does anyone know what this picture is?” (Hold up a picture of a slithering snake) Correct! It’s a snake! How does a snake move? (Move arm in a “s” pattern.) What does a snake sound like? (Demonstrate what a snake sounds like then have the children participate with you. “Great! Does anyone notice that their tongue is touching their teeth when the say that? Also, the letter S looks like a snake and it sounds like a snake!

3. Let’s look for the letter s in the word cooks. I will say the word really slow to make sure you all can hear the snake in the word, ccccooookkksssss. Did you hear it? Great!

4. “Let’s try a tongue twister!” (Point to chart, Susie saw striped sunflower seeds) Say it through once for the children, then have children say it with you. “Now, when you hear the sound /s/ everyone wriggles their arms like a snake” (demonstrate again to children what to do with their arms, arms move in an “s” pattern).

5. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil) “Did you know that we use letters to demonstrate sounds that we hear? (Demonstrate on a whiteboard how to make a lowercase letter s) Start at the rooftop and curve down through the fence and curve back up when you get to the sidewalk. Alright, now you all try! I will come around and check your work. If I say you did it right, go ahead and make 9 more.

6. Call on students and ask them how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in sign or rhyme?  Star or bar? Rock or sock? Let’s see if you can spot when my tongue hits the back of my teeth to make the /s/ sound, if you hear the sound, move your arms like a snake. If you don’t hear the sound, make an “x” with your arms: stitch, sting, ring, stop, have, sun

7. Now students, it is time to hear a story. We will be reading Scoot, by Cathryn Falwell. This book is about lots of animals in the woods, and they like to play and jump around in the woods, except for these six turtles. They like to sit, and not move, but strong winds come upon the turtles. What do you think will happen to the six silent turtles? Let’s read it to find out! Also, pay extra close attention to words that have the sssss sound. And if you hear the ssss sound, wave your arms around like a snake!  

8. For assessment, the children will be given a worksheet with different pictures on it. Tell the students if the picture beings with an s, then they may color it. If it doesn’t, they should draw an x over the picture.


Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Urbana, IL: Center for the Study of Reading, 36-43

Bell, Elizabeth. Slinky Scaly Snakes.

Falwell, Cathryn. Scoot! China. Greenwillow Books, 2008.

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