Sawing Saws


By Elisabeth Owen

Emergent Literacy


Rationale:   This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S.  The students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (sawing with a saw) and the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters. 


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with tongue twister "Sally sees silly signs"; cue cards with SICK, SIP, SEAT, SEAL, SAY, and SAND; and assessment worksheet for identifying words with beginning /s/ sounds.




1. Our written language is hard to learn sometimes.  We have to pay attention to the way that our mouth moves when we make certain sounds.  Today we are working on how to find the mouth movement for /s/.  /s/ is spelled with the letter S.  S looks like a snake and sounds like a saw sawing.


2. Let's pretend that we are holding a saw. Move the saw back and forth like you are cutting a piece of wood, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Move arm back and forth over other arm as if cutting it.]  Notice where your tongue is? (Tip of tongue touches above top teeth).  When we say /s/, we put our tongue above our top teeth and blow out air making a sound like a saw cutting wood. 


3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word star.  We are going to say the word really slowly while stretching and listen for the saw sound.  Ssssss - tar.  There it is!  I felt air blowing out of my mouth over my tongue.  I can feel the sawing in star.


4. Let's try a tongue twister.  "Sally sees silly signs".  Let's say it together three times.  Now, let's say it again but this time really stretch the /s/ at the beginning of the words. "Ssssally sssees sssilly sssigns".  Now, let's try that again and this time instead of dragging out the sound, let's separate that sound at the beginning from the rest of the word. "/s/ ally    /s/ ees   /s/ illy     /s/ igns"  Remember to saw your arm when you hear the /s/ sound.


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter S to spell /s/. Capital S looks like a big snake, and little s looks like a baby snake.  Let's write the lowercase letter s. Start just below the fence. Curve it back up to touch the fence.  Swoop down to right below where we started and bend it back around to touch the sidewalk.  Let me see everyone's s.  After I check everyone's little s's, I want you to make five more just like it using the same steps we just did. 


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew:  Do you hear /s/ in spoon or fork?  Sun or moon?  Smile or frown?  Summer or fall?  Small or big?


Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Start sawing if you hear /s/: Sleep, mask, door, run, snack, switch, ham, less, bag.


7. Phonetic cue reading. Show SICK and model how to decide if it is sick or lick: The S tells me to saw, /s/, so this word is sssick, sick.  You try some:  SIP: sip or dip? SEAT: meat or seat? SEAL: meal or seal? SAY: say or pay? SAND: band or sand?


8. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to draw lines to and color the objects that start with S. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #7.




Dr. Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie, Mouth Moves and Gestures for Phonemes.


Beginning Constants Worksheet.

Return to Doorways