Emergent Literacy Design: DUH! I know my D!

Lynn Mitcham



Phonemic awareness is essential for children who are learning to break the alphabetic code.  Emergent readers must have a thorough understanding of which sounds correspond to which letter to begin reading.  Marilyn Jager Adams states, "Knowledge of letters and phonemic awareness have been found to bear a strong and direct relationship to success and ease of reading acquisition" (Adams, p. 44).   This lesson will teach children to recognize the phoneme /d/ and recognize it in spoken words by associating it with the slang "duh."  Students will practice pronunciation, isolate the phoneme in spoken words, practice writing the letter, and decide between two words, either spoken or written, which includes the letter. 



Picture of a dog, duck, dinosaur, and the letter d; chart paper with "Dan drew drowsy ducks and drakes" printed on it; primary paper and pencil; Dunk on a Bike by David Shannon; word cards with DOG, DOLL, DAD, and DARK printed on them; assessment page with images of cat, dog, door, bed, book, and duck.



1. Say: Today we are going to learn about a very special letter.  Learning our letters and the sounds they make will help us learn the secret code of written words.  Who can tell me what this is a picture of? (DOG!) What about this photograph? (DUCK!) What about this drawing? (Dinosaur!)  And can you take a guess at what letter this is? (D!)  That is right! This letter is a d.  All those other things we looked at, the dog, the duck and the dinosaur, they all start with d.  If that is something you already knew say, "DUH!" (Duh! And open palms to sky in a gesture as if something was obvious.) You are SO SMART! Do you know how I know that? Because you just told me what sound the D makes! D makes the /d/ sound, just like if you already knew something! DUH! Say it with me! "/d/ /d/ /d/"


2. When you were saying /d/, /d/, /d/, did you feel your mouth open a little bit? Did you feel your tongue start behind your top teeth and then dart back behind your bottom teeth? Say /d/ again to see if you feel that.


3. We are going to see if we can find the /d/ sound in some of our words.  Let's try child. I'm going to say it really slow… chhhh-aye-l-DUH.  Did you hear it?? If you heard it, say "DUH Miss Mitcham!" What about the word duck? Let's say it slow DUH-ck! Did you hear it? Where was it, in the beginning or the end? In the beginning, DUH!


4. Are you ready to tickle your tongues? The teacher will refer to the chart: "Dan drew drowsy ducks and drakes." Let's say it again three times! Ok, now let's say it silly.  Let's be silly by dragging out our DUH sound.  /D/an /D/rew /D/rowsy /D/ucks and /D/rakes.  Now let's say it right! Dan drew drowsy ducks and drakes! Great!


5. How about everybody get out your paper and pencil so we can learn how to draw our d! Start with little c by starting just below the fence.  Go up to the fence and curve around until you get to the sidewalk.  Curve back up and you have little c.  Is that ready to be a little d yet? NO! Then go up to the rooftop and make a line all the way down to the sidewalk to make the little d.  Let me see everybody's little d's.  Great! Now try it five more times on your own.


6. I'm going to give you two words and I want you to tell me which word has the /d/ sound in it! Are you ready? (Taking volunteers for either the answer or how they knew, or both.) Do you hear "DUH" in dog or cat? Duck or bird? Dinosaur or fossil? Food or Drink? Pants or Dress? Middle or beginning?  Start or End?


7. Now we are going to read this funny book called Duck on a Bike.  "In this book a silly duck lives on a farm.  One day, he sees his boy's bike.  What do you think that silly duck is going to do?  How do you think the other animals will feel? We will have to read to find out!"  When I read this book, every time you hear the /d/ sound, I want you to hold your hands in our special way.


8. (The teacher will show a card with the word DOG on it.) How can we read this...?  Does this say log or dog? The /d/ sound teaches us to say DUH when we see a D.  So this must be /d/ og.  Now you try! Does this say: DOLL: Doll or mall? DAD: dad or mad? DARK: dark or bark?


9. (To assess, pass out sheets with pictures of things that begin with d and things that don't.) I want you to color in the pictures on this page of things that start with the /d/ sound!   The assessment page will be found here: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/alphabet/circlewordsthatstartwith/dr.shtml