The Squiggly Snake says: “ssssss….”


Stefanie Berryhill


Emergent Literacy 

Rational: Children need to understand that letters stand for phonemes and that spellings map out these phonemes in words that people say.  Children must first recognize the phonemes in spoken words before they can actually match letters to the phonemes they represent.  This lesson is to help children identify /s/.  They will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding /s/ in words. 


Materials: primary paper and pencil; chart with “The silly snake swam slowly in the stream;” set of cards with /s/ on one side and a ? on the other; drawing paper and crayons; James and the Good Day , picture page with sand, salt, cat, soap, boot, face, chair, sun, snail, nut, star.


Procedures: 1. Introduce by explaining that our written language is like a secret code.  You must figure out what mouth movement the letters stand for.  Today we’re going to be working on finding the /s/ sound.  Once we begin saying it a few times, it will become easy to pick out in words.


2. Ask students: Does anyone know what sound a snake makes? It says /s/… That is the mouth movement we are looking for in words.  Let’s pretend we are snakes and make the /s/ sound.  (slither your hand like a squiggly snake).


3. Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart) “The silly snake swam slowly in the stream.” Everybody say it with me 3 times.  Now lets say it again, stretching out the /s/ sound at the beginning of all the words.  “The /s/illy /s/nake /s/wam /s/lowly in the /s/tream.”


4. Have students take out primary paper and pencil.  We can use letter s to spell /s/.  Let’s write it. Start just below the fence and curve up to the fence, touching it then continue your curve until you have a little cup, then curve the opposite way and touching the side walk as you go by.   It should look like a squiggly snake.  Everyone try this by yourselves.  Once I have put a star on it, write 9 more just like it, so you have 10 in all. When you see the letter s in a word, that’s the signal to make the squiggly snake /s/ sound.


5. Call on students and tell how they know: Do you hear /s/ in bug or spider?  Speak or yell?  Miss or Ma’am?  Face or head?  Fast or quick?  (Pass out s/? card to each student).  Say: Lets see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words.  Show me the s if you hear /s/ and the ? if you don’t.  (Give words one by one). The, silly, snake, swam, slowly, in, the, stream. 


6.  Read James and the Good Day and talk about the story.  Read it again and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /s/.  List their words on the board.  Then have each child draw a Sail boat and write a message about it using invented spelling.  Display their work. 


7. For assessment, distribute picture page and help students name each picture.  Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names have the squiggly snake /s/ sound in them. 


Reference: Dr. Murray’s Example of Emergent Literacy Design: Sound the Foghorn. .

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