Baboons Banging Bongos!

Emergent Literacy

By:  Leah B. Smith


Phoneme awareness can be defined as the ability to identify the vocal gestures (phonemes) in spoken words, and is the greatest predictor to successful reading. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that it is effectively taught to all children learning to read.  In order to do this, phonemes should be taught explicitly and systematically.  According to research, there are three features that are key to teaching an effective phoneme awareness lesson.  These are:  focusing on an individual phoneme, creating activities to make each phoneme memorable, and finding phonemes in spoken words.  During this lesson, the focus will be on finding the phoneme, /b/, which is represented by the letter b.  The above three strategies will be implemented throughout the course of this lesson in order to most effectively teach this phoneme.


-Various items that begin with the letter /b/:  book, ball, bongos, basket, block, bottle, boot
-Primary Paper
-A copy of the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.  Publisher: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1970.
-Story book paper (paper that is blank at the top for illustrations with a lined bottom, so that the students can write on it)
-A page that contains the following pictures: car, boat, ball, net, boy, girl, bongo drums, piano, book, pen, bee, snail
-Chart that displays the tongue twister: Blue baboons beat big bongos!


1.  "Learning to read and write is really important, and the trick to doing this is learning the sounds for different letters and learning how our mouths move when we say those letters.  I want each of you to look at these objects.  Show them the objects that are listed above.  Let's say the name of each of these objects together.Give specific praise.  "Now, does anyone know what all of these words have in common?"  Give praise for correct answers.  "Right!  They all begin with the /b/ sound!  Today, we are going to pretend like we are detectives, and we are going to look for the /b/ sound in different words!"
2.  "Have you ever heard the sound a drum makes?  Right!... it's b-b-b-b-b-b." Model pretending to tap a drum for the students while saying the /b/ sound.  "Now let's all pretend that we are playing our bongo drum while we make the /b/ sound!"
3.  "Tongue twisters are tons of fun, and this one is filled with the /b/ sound!" Get students' attention to the chart and model reading it for them, stressing the /b/ sound.  "Now let's try it together!  Blue baboons beat big bongos!"  Give praise.  "Now we're going to try it again, and every time you say the /b/ sound, I want you to pretend like you're playing your bongo drum.  Now it's your turn to practice the b's!"  Let them repeat this several times until it is evident that they understand.
4.  "We can even write the /b/ sound using the letter b.  Let's practice writing it!Model for students how to do this.  "Start at the roof, go down, and then bounce up and around!  Now you try!  When you think you've got it, raise your hand, and I will come by and take a look.When student successfully writes the letter, have them write this five more times for additional practice.  "Remember, whenever you see the letter b in a word, it says what?  Right... it says /b/!"
5.  "Now let's see if we can find the /b/ sound in some words.  Do you hear the /b/ sound in bubbles?  Let's me s... bbbb-u-bbbbles.  Yes, I definitely hear the /b/ sound in bubbles.  Did you?  What about these words- do you hear the /b/ sound in good or bad?  Bat or rat?  Big or small?  Boat or float?"
6.  Do a Read Aloud with the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?  Discuss this with the students, and then reread the book.  "I am going to read the book again, but this time, I want you to pretend to play your bongos each time you hear the /b/ sound.  Are you ready?  Great... let's get started."
7.  "Now, we're going to make our own book of /b/ sounds.  Why don't we call our book Baboon, Baboon, what do you hear?, since we talked about the baboon that played his bongos?"  Allow students to make suggestions, and then distribute the story book paper and crayons for them to draw and illustrate their picture.  "I want everyone to write at least one sentence about something the baboon could have heard and draw a picture at the top, so our book will have illustrations.  Do your very best work, and really think about those b's!"

I will use the student's story book page, as well as the b's picture page for their assessment.  They should circle all items that begin with the letter b and write a b above the circled items.


Murray, Dr. Bruce. Making Friends with Phonemes

Self, Jamie.  B-b-bouncing ball

Martin, Bill Jr.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.  Harcourt Brace and Company, 1970.

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