Hiss Like A Snake with S

Kristin Saltsman

Emergent Literacy


Rationale: This lesson will help students to identify /s/, the phoneme the corresponds with S. Student will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a representation, such as a hissing snake, 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, Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie (Rankin, Laura, Bloomsbury, 2007). Words cards with STOP, SOON, POOR, SUN, SING, and SOCK, assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/.



1.     Say: Our written language is very different from other written languages. It can be confusing trying to learn what each of our letters stand for and how our mouth moves when we say different words. Today we are going to practice spotting the mouth move /s/. We spell /s/ using the letter symbol S. We can remember this by thinking that the letter S looks like a snake, and /s/ sounds like a hissing snake.

2.     Say: Let’s pretend that we are all snakes, /s/, /s/, /s/. (Show a gesture that would remind students of a snake). Notice that our lips are not touching, but our teeth are together. When we say /s/, we are pushing air through our teeth.

3.     Say: Let me show you how I would check for hissing S in saw. I am checking for /s/ like a snake. I am going to say the word saw slowly and I want you to listen for the snake to hiss. Ss-a-a-ww. Again, but slower: sss-a-a-a-wwww. There is a /s/ in saw. It is at the beginning of the word.

4.     Say: Now let’s try a tongue tickler (on poster). “Sara sang silly songs”. Now everyone say it three times together. Now let’s say it again and this time stretch the /s/ at the beginning of each word. “Sssssarah sssssang sssssilly sssssongs”. Now let’s say it one more time, but now break /s/ off each word. “/s/ara /s/ang /s/illy /s/ongs.

5.     (Have students take out primary paper and pencil). Now let’s look at using the letter S to spell /s/. S looks like a snake. Since we now know that S looks like a snake, let’s look at lower case s. To make a s, I want you to start at the fence and make a little c. When you have your little c, I want you to draw a backwards c under your first c. Make sure to touch the sidewalk, but don’t go into the ditch. When everyone has made their s, I would like for you to show it to me. When I give you a sticker, I want you to go back and make nine more, to make sure that we understand how to write s.

6.     Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in sick or cat? Saturday or Monday? So or not? Dress or black? Say: Now I want to see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in a few words. Make the snake signal when you hear /s/: sour, dog, sword, squirrel, slow, bark, jump, sing.

7.     Say: Now let’s all get together and read a book. Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie. Book talk- In this book there is a little fox who loves to collect small things. One day when she is at school, she finds a little camera and keeps it. The only problem is one of her classmates says that it is his camera. You will have to keep reading to find out what happens to Ruthie and the little camera. Read page 2 and 25, show how the /s/ sound is on these two pages. Ask students to think up small items that have the /s/ sound. Have students to write their word using invented spelling, and draw a picture of their word and how it correlates with the story.

8.     Show the flash card STOP and model how to decide if it is stop or drop. The S shows you that there is a snake, so the word is sssssss-top. Now you try some:

SOON: soon or moon? , POOR: core or poor? , SUN: sun or fun? , SING: zing or sing? ,  SOCK: sock or lock?

9.     For assessment, hand out the worksheet.


Student will color the pictures that begin with the /s/ and write the letter S at the beginning of each correct word. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/s-begins2.htm

Beginning Reading, Marilyn Jager Adams (1990), The Reading Research and Education Center.

Alex Howard, Frying Bacon with S,



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Kristin Saltsman