Hear Your Heart Beat With The Letter B

By: Kathy Walsh

Emergent Literacy



This lesson will help children hear the phoneme /b/ when they see the grapheme B. It is important for emergent readers to understand that the letters they see represent the phonemes in spoken words. They must make the correspondence between graphemes and phonemes before they begin to read. This lesson is designed to help students recognize /b/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (heart beat) and the letter symbol B. Students will then practice finding /b/ in spoken and written words. They will then apply phoneme awareness with /b/ by distinguishing words based on beginning letters in both print and spoken words to evaluate their full understanding of the grapheme and phoneme correspondence.



Primary paper and pencil


Chart with “Bill and Betty baked brown bread for Barbara’s baby.”

Chart with the words: BAT, GRAB, TUB

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr. (Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 1967)

Note card with a picture of a cab drawn and the word CAB written below

Note cards with BIG, BAKE, SITE, BUG, BALL, MAD, BAT, BOOK

Assessment worksheet



1. Say: The way we say and read words is like a secret code. The tricky part is learning the letters and learning how to make our mouth move to make the sounds. Today we are going to work on making our mouth say /b/ with a special way of holding our lips. We spell /b/ with the letter B. We will make a special gesture with our hands when we hear the letter to help us remember what sound the b makes.


2. How many of you have ever been to the doctor and he uses this thing called a stethoscope? Who knows that a stethoscope is used for? Explain that doctors use it to listen to your heartbeat. It sounds like (buh bump, buh bump). There is a letter in the alphabet that sounds like a heart beat. We have a special gesture to make the sound of a heartbeat to help us remember the sound /b/. First, watch me tap my chest to make the sound of our heartbeat like doctors hear in a stethoscope /b,b/, /b,b/, /b,b/. Now I want everyone to make the sound of their heartbeat with me /b,b/, /b,b/, /b,b/. You make the sound /b/ when you see the letter b. The special way to hold your mouth is your lips start out together, then they open and a puff of air comes out. Lets all make the /b/ sound with our mouths.


3. Say: Let me show you how to find /b/ in the word cab. Does everyone know what a cab is? They are often yellow cars with a driver who gets paid to take people to different places. I am going to stretch cab out in super slow motion and listen to the sound of my heart beating. Ccc-aaa-bbb. Did everyone hear the heart beat with the /b/ sound? I made my lips open in the special way we learned to make the /b/ to make the word cab. Say the word slowly with me.


4. Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. Read: “Bill and Betty baked brown bread for Barbara’s baby.” Wow, listen to all the heart beating in this sentence! I will read it again and make my special motion when I hear the /b/ sound. Read it again. Now, class, read the sentence with me and make the heart beat with your hands when you hear the /b/.  Now read it three times on your own. Try to read it by breaking it off the word: “/b/ ill and /b/ etty /b/ aked /b/ rown /b/ read for /b/ arbara’s /b/ a /b/ y. Notice how each time we make the heart beat we see the letter B.


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil] We use B to spell /b/. Capital B looks has a straight line with two humps on the side. Lowercase b is a straight line from the rooftop to the sidewalk with a hump from the sidewalk to the fence. The hump should face right. Watch as I write a capital and lowercase B. Now I want everyone to make a capital and lowercase B. I will put a smiley face when I like your letter writing and I want you to make five more capital and five more lowercase letters just like it.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear  /b/ in bake or time? Dog or bike? Safe or ball? Now lets look at this sheet of words. Tell me which word I am pointing to: Bat or hot? Time or grab? Tub or stuck?

Say: Lets see if you can spot the special mouth movement /b/ in some words. Make your heart beat with your hands if you hear /b/: the, bite, blame, stop, bright, meet, break, to, pay, night, block, bike.


7. Say: Let’s look at one of my favorite books. This book as beautiful pictures of lots of different animals. The main animal begins with the letter B. What animal could it be that begins with a B? Those are all good guesses but the title may give away which animal I am talking about: “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?” That’s right, it’s a bear. I wonder what animals he meets in the story. I will show you some pages of animals on them. The phrase “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?” is repeated a lot in this book. When I get to the phrase I want you to read it with me while making your heartbeat. Lets practice by reading the title. (read the title and make the heart beat when you get to a B.) As I read I will point to the words. If I get to a B I will tap my chest to make my heartbeat. If you hear the sound I want you to make your heartbeat with me! You can do this with any book you read to help you remember the sound /b/.


8. Show BAT and model how to deiced if it is bat or hat: the B tells be to make my heart beat, /b/, so this word is bbb-aaa-ttt, bat. You try some: BIG: bag or tag? BAKE: take or bake? SITE: site or bite? MUG: bug or mug? BALL: ball or tall? MAD: mad or bad? BAT: mat or bat? BOOK: cook or book?


9. Assessment: Pass out the worksheet. I will go through the worksheet by sections to tell what each picture is and to answer any questions. Students shouldn’t talk unless they are asking me a question. I will then bring each student back to the table for a conference one on one. I will ask them these questions while keeping a running record to see if they know the phoneme /b/ and can recognize the grapheme B.




Do you hear /b/ in train or blank, same or bark, brake or lake, grab or great, fan or strawberry?


Grapheme: This will be printed on a paper for each student to write on.


Circle the word with the letter Bb in it:


1. Label                     or                         Plain

2. Mom                     or                         Brown

3. About                    or                         Tape

4. Train                     or                         Brain

5. Game                    or                         Bush



10. References:

Vanhooser, Holly. Better “B” the Best. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/vanhooserel.htm


Talley, Amanda. “Ha, Ha, Hooray for Reading!” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/talleyel.htm


Martin Jr., Bill. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (1967) http://www.amazon.com/Brown-Bear-What-You See/dp/0805017445/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0


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