Nick’s Sticky, Icky Fingers


Erin Carey

Beginning Reading

1st to 2nd grade




Rationale: In order to learn to read, children must first be aware of the correspondence of letters and their phonemes and that the spelling maps of words instruct us in how to read and say them. Vowel sounds, especially short vowels, are the most difficult phonemes for children to become aware of and identify. Through this lesson, children will learn to recognize the correspondence i = /i/ in written words.  They will learn the sound i makes by learning a meaningful representation and how to spell and read words with the i = /i/ correspondence through a letterbox lesson and by reading a book.


Materials: primary paper and pencils for each child; letterboxes and letterbox letters (b, c, f, g, i, k, m, n, r, s, t, x) for each child, Large letters and letterboxes for teacher, Tin Man Fix-It books for each child, paragraph about Nick and his glue


Procedure: 1. Today we are going to learn about the short i. Has anyone ever been gluing something and gotten glue all over you? Your fingers get all sticky and icky, don’t they? I will then read a short paragraph story about a boy named Nicky who got very sticky using his glue. Can everyone act like Nicky and rub your fingers like you are trying to get the glue off of them? Shake out your hands and say, “Sticky, Icky!”

Good job!


2. Now listen to this tongue twister: “The impatient Indian was ill inside the igloo.” Now repeat that after me. Good job! Now listen closely. Do you hear /i/ in sit or cat? Lick or lock?  Bib or bat? Frog or fish?


3. Does anyone know what i looks like? Everyone take out your primary paper and pencil and write a short i on your paper. Hold it up and show everyone when you are done.

Good job!

While you have your paper out, think of a word that has /i/ in it. Write that word on your paper and hold onto it because we will use it again to write some sentences later.


4. Now we will use our letterboxes. Everyone get your letterboxes out and I will show you how to spell using the boxes and your letters. In each box there will be a different sound.

I will use my own large boxes in the front to model for the children what to do.


When I spell “big” I am using only three boxes because there are three phonemes in “big”.

 /b//i//g/. Sound out the phonemes.

Can everyone repeat that after me?/b//i//g/.

Good. Now what would happen if I wanted to spell “Nick” like the boy in the story I read to you?

What if I told you that just like this word “big,” there are also three phonemes in Nick? I don’t need to add another box just because there are four letters in Nick. There are still only three sounds. Listen as I sound it out. /n/ /i/ /k/.

See? There are only three mouth movements in Nick. I will put n in the first box, i in the second box, and ck  in the third box.


5. Now its your turn. I will call out a word that has a short i in it and you will use your lettest to spell out the word using the correct number of phonemes. The first word is “it.” How many phonemes are in the word “it”?


There are only two.. Only use two boxes and spell “it.”

I will continue to have the children spell the following words: 3- tin, fix, sit, 4- stick, trim.


6. I will now put all of the words used in letterboxes up on the board and call on students to read the words one at a time. Once one student has read the word, the whole class will repeat that word.


7. I would like everyone to take out their Tin Man Fix-It  book. We will read this book together. If you hear the sound a short i makes, remember that /i/ sound?, in a word that we read, shake your hands out like we did earlier to  let me know you heard it.


8. Good job class. Now that we’ve read our book, I want you to pull our that short i word that you wrote earlier. I want you to write a sentence using that word somewhere in that sentence. Be sure to underline your word so that I can pick it out of your sentence.


Assessment: The children’s assessment will be if they can recognize the /i/ phoneme during the reading of the book. I will assess each individual child using their written sentences by noticing what word they chose in the beginning of the lesson, if it is spelled correctly, and if I is used correctly in the sentence.



Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 644-650.  

Icky Sticky Inchworm by Liesa Viruleg

(1990). Phonics Reader Short Vowel Tin Man Fix-It. Carson, CA (USA), St Albans, Herts. (UK): Educational Insights.

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