Emergent Literacy Design:  Play Ball!
A Lesson Design for Emergent Literacy By Jessica Freeman

Rationale:  Before young children can learn to read and spell words, they must learn to recognize letters and the sounds or phonemes that those letters represent.  Some letters are easily recognized, while others are more difficult due to their similarities with other letters.  Two such letters that cause students constant confusion are the letters b and d.  This lesson will help children recognize letter b and also to differentiate from other letters such as letter d.  Once students can recognize the letter, then they will be introduced to the phoneme that b represents. 


Materials:  primary paper, pencil, chart which contains the tongue twister:  Barry and Becky brought bats and balls to play baseball, a letter card with the letter b, Dr. Seuss’ ABC book 



1. Assess knowledge and review any letters that students have already been introduced to by holding up several letters previously learned but including the letter b and asking student to identify them. 


2.  Once the students have been shown letter b, assist the students in learning to print b by offering the following example:  “To play baseball you must have a bat and a ball.  It is the same way when you write the letter b; you must have a bat and a ball.”  Model for the students by writing a b on the board and saying; “First you draw a bat from the ceiling to the floor.  Then you must draw the ball next to the bottom of the bat and make them touch to hit the ball.”  Explain to students that d also looks like a ball and a bat, but that it is made with a yo-yo and a string and shouldn’t be confused with b.  “To make a d, first you write a circle on the middle line down to the floor for the yo-yo and then you draw the string touching the yo-yo from the ceiling to the floor.


3.  Next, have students pull out primary paper and pencil and practice writing a row of b.  Now I need for everyone to make b on their own.  After I put a smiley face on your paper, I need for you to make a line of b.


4.  Then, refer to the chart and have students repeat the tongue twister:  Barry and Becky brought a bat and ball to play baseball.  Bring the repeated /b/ sound in the tongue twister to the students’ attention.  Explain to them that b is the /b/ sound that you hear in ball.  Model this sound for them. 


5.  Ask students a series of questions to help build phonemic awareness of the letter b.  “Do you hear /b/ in bad or dad?  ball or call? base or race? bag or rag?


6.  Read the page on B from Dr. Seuss’ ABC book that contains numerous words containing b.  Have the students raise their hands with they hear the /b/ sound in words as you read. 


7.  To assess what students have gained from this lesson, distribute the coloring page mentioned below.  Have students color the letter b with a green crayon and use a black crayon to color any letters that look like b but are not b.  To assess phonemic awareness, revisit step number 5 and add more words. Also, step number 6 is a great assessment tool for phonemic awareness. 




Buddy the Bee Bats Balls with the Letter B, Jamie Ann Mathis http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/begin/mathisel.html


Activity Letter Recognition Sheet



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For questions or comments email me at freemjh@auburn.edu