Purple Penguins and Popping Popcorn

Emergent Literacy

Erin Stephan


Before students can learn to read or spell words they have to be able to associate letters with the individual phonemes they stand for. Phonemes are vocal gestures or mouth movements that correspond with a letter. Children need to learn to recognize phonemes in spoken contexts, before they match phonemes to letters. In this lesson, students will learn to identify the sound and spelling of /p/. 

-Tongue twister on chart paper: "Patty the purple penguin made puffy popcorn for Pam the playful pink pig."
-Primary paper (for each child)
-Pencils (for each child)
-Picture cards (puzzle, top, pencil, pie, nap)
-If You Give a Pig a Pancake  by Laura Numeroff
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children Books, 1998
-Picture worksheet for assessment (pictures: book, pen, dog, cat, penguin, pig, pizza, fish, cup, mouse, pie)

      1. Introduce the lesson to the students by explaining that we are going to learn a new letter and the sound that letter makes. "First, we have to pretend we are detectives. We need to figure out what movements our mouth makes when we say /p/. It may be tricky to spot the mouth movement for /p/, but soon you'll be able to find the /p/ sound in lots of words!"
2. "To make the sound /p/ your mouth moves a certain way. Your lips start pressed together, and your mouth pops open."Model how to make /p/ with your mouth. "I love to eat popcorn. When you make popcorn it makes the p sound."Demonstrate making popcorn by opening and closing your fists and saying /p/. "Let's all make popcorn. /p/ /p/ /p/."

       3. "Now, let's try to pop the p sound in these words. Repeat after me." Say each word once, and then repeat it with the students: pizza, plate, pig, purple. Emphasize the /p/ sound in each word, and make the 'popcorn' motion with your fist on the /p/ sound. "Good job! Now let's try a tongue twister with lots of p's! Say it with me."Point to the words on the chart as you say each word: Patty the purple penguin made puffy popcorn for Pam the playful pink pig. "Let's read our tongue twister again two more times, but lets but our popcorn pop when we say /p/." "Now we are going to do it again and hold the /p/ sound at the beginning of the words. Ppppatty the ppppurple ppppenguin made ppppuffy ppppopcorn for Ppppam the pppplayful ppppink ppppig. We are going to try it one more time, but we are going to break the /p/ sound away from the word: /p/ atty the /p/ urple /p/ enguin made /p/ uffy /p/ opcorn for /p/ the /p/ layful /p/ ink /p/ ig."

       4. "As detectives I am going to need your helping finding the /p/ sound in these words. When you hear the /p/ sound I want you to pop your popcorn with your hands." Hold up pictures one at a time saying the corresponding word. Stretch out each word so the /p/ sound is clear. Pictures: puzzle, top, pencil, pie, nap.

       5. "I need you guys to do some more detective work. Do you hear /p/ in peach or banana?" Call on a student who is raising there hand to answer and explain how they knew to the class. Down or up? Cup or mug? Play or run? Tug or push?

        6. "The letter p is going to help us spell /p/." Have the students get out primary writing paper and a pencil. "To write a p put your pencil on the fence, go straight down to the ditch, come up and put his chin on the sidewalk. I'm going to check your work, and then you can practice writing eight more just like it. Now you will know how to write a p in a word that has the /p/ sound!"

        7. "What do you think would happen if you gave a pig a pancake? In this story a little girl gives a pig a pancake, and then the pig wants syrup which makes her all sticky. The pig takes a bath and wants a rubber duck. The pig has lots of energy and wants more and more things. Do you think the little girl can keep up with the pig?" "As I read the story, be good detectives and listen for all of the /p/ sounds. When you hear /p/ remember to pop popcorn with your hand." Read If You Give a Pig a Pancake.

        8. To assess the students individual understanding of the phoneme /p/ give each student a page with different pictures on it. Some of the pictures will begin with p, others will not. Have the students say the name of each picture to there self the color each picture that starts with a p.


Frey, Katheryn. "Purple Polly Platypus". http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/freyel.html

 Murray, Bruce. "Sound the Foghorn." http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/navig/murrayel.html


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