Messy Monkeys!!

Emergent Literacy Lesson Plan

Mallory Cadrette

Rationale:  Letter recognition is a very important step towards a student's ability to successfully read and write.  Adams states that "the single most predictor of students' end-of-year reading achievement- regardless of instructional approaches- was their ability at the beginning of the year to recognize and name upper and lower case letters" (Adams, p. 10).  The goal of this lesson is to introduce a letter of the alphabet.  The letter I chose to teach in this lesson is m.  I will demonstrate how to write m in both upper and lower case letters.  I will also teach students the sound that m makes, also making them aware of the movement of their mouth when pronouncing m.  My goal is for the students to learn to recognize both upper and lower case M, to be aware of the mouth movement involved with m, and to practice finding the letter m in words.


-Posterboard with tongue twister: "Maggie the messy monkey gets mad on Monday!"

-Primary writing paper (for students)

-Pencils (for students)

-Dry erase marker

-Dry erase board

-Picture of Maggie the messy monkey

(found at

-Picture cards with words that begin with m and words that do not begin with m, such as marshmallow and chocolate, mouse and cheese, man and woman, money and coins, mother and father

-Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed book (by Eileen Christelow)

-worksheet for assessment with pictures of words beginning with m and pictures of those not beginning with m (examples: moon, earth, cat, monkey, muffin, pizza, mop)



1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that our alphabet is like a secret code.  "Today, we are going to learn more about the letter m so that when we spot it in words we will be able to recognize it and sound it out!"

2. First, we will review the letters that we have already learned, for example, a, e, b, and p.  As you write the letters on the board, have the students make the sound that each letter makes as a class.  Have students give an example of a word that starts with each of these letters.  "Good job everyone!  I really liked how you came up with your own words for those sounds!"

 3. Tell the students that: "Today we are going to learn about the letter m.  My friend Maggie the messy monkey (show picture) is going to help us with this letter.  First, let's see what our mouth does when we make the /m/ sound, like in mmmmonkey, mmmmoon, and mmmmelon.  Do your lips come together?  Great job!!"

4. "Okay now we are going to listen for the /m/ sounds in a pair of words.  I want you to pick out which word in the pair has the /m/ sound.  Let's do one together.  Does mug or cup have the /m/sound?  M-m-m-u-u-g-g or c-c-c-u-u-p-p?  I hear the /m/ sound in mug.  Did you hear it?  Now, you try a few."  Ask students: "Do you hear the /m/ sound in mac and cheese or cookies? Munch or chew?  Muffin or cake?"

5. Next, I will show the poster with our tongue twister on it.  Tell the students: "Put your listening ears on tight, because after I say our tongue twister I want you to say it back to me.  Okay?  Make sure to listen for the /m/ sound in our tongue twister."  The poster says, "Maggie the messy monkey gets mad on Monday!!"  I will read the tongue twister to them, emphasizing the /m/ sound.  Then I will have them say it with me, making the /m/ sound on every m word.  Say to the students: "Now you try the tongue twister.  Great job guys!!  Let's say it three more times together."

6. I will then have them take out their primary paper and pencil to practice writing their upper and lower case m.  I will first model this on the chalkboard.  "Okay everybody, eyes on me.  Now we are going to go over how to write the letter m.  To make a capital M you start on the rooftop and go down straight through the fence and stop when you get to the sidewalk.  Next, go back to where you started on the rooftop and go down the slide through the fence until you hit the sidewalk and then back up the slide through the fence to the next rooftop.  Finally, go down straight through the fence to the sidewalk and stop."  Tell the students to practice writing ten capital M's and if they have questions to raise their hands for help.  "Now, to make a lowercase m you start on the fence and go down to the sidewalk then back up toward the fence and hump around and down to the sidewalk again."  Have the students write ten more lowercase m's.

7.  Next, I will show them the picture cards of different objects two at a time.  I will then ask the students which picture begins with the /m/ sound.  I will model this for them by saying, "I hear the /m/ sound in marshmallow, but not in chocolate."  Then I will show them the pictures to informally assess them.

8.  I will then read the book Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed? by Eileen Christelow.  "Today we are going to read a really funny book.  This book is about five little monkeys who are not sleepy and do not want to go to bed.  What do you think their mom is going to say to them about jumping on the bed?  We will have to read to find out what happens!  Let's pay extra clase attention to words where you hear the /m/ sound.  If you hear the /m/ sound in a word, I want you to put your hands under your arms and 'act like a monkey' without making any noise!!"

9. "Everybody did an awesome job!  You were all great listeners!"  For assessment, I will pass out the worksheet with pictures on it.  The students will be instructed to circle the pictures that have the /m/ sound in their name.  "Look at each picture carefully and then circle the pictures that start with the letter m."



Adams, Marilyn Jager.  Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.  Urbana, IL:

            Center for the Study of Reading, 10-12.

Alexander, Shannon.  Magical Moon. 


Christelow, Eileen.  Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.  New York, NY: Clarion Books,


Clark, Kathryne.  Max's Magic Magnets.  


Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie.

Return to Encounters index