The Icky Sticky Indian
Emergent Literacy Design


Melissa Hensley

 This lesson is designed to help children understand the sound and spelling of /i/.  Short vowels are a very hard concept for children to learn.  They have to understand that letters stand for phonemes and how you spell words stand for the sounds we say when speaking.  In this lesson, students will be able to find the /i/ (short i) sound in spoken words, give it a meaningful name, and then be able to find the same sounds in written words.

Primary paper
Chart with “Izzy, the icky, sticky Indian, was in his igloo.”
A picture of an Indian in an igloo on the chart
Flashcards with the words pig, tin, fix, man, tips, hits, and cat on them
Tin Man Fix-it (Educational Insights, phonics reader)
Picture worksheet
Crayons to color a picture with

1.    Introduce the lesson: All of the letters we have learned are part of a written secret code.  When we write words, we are actually combining a bunch of sounds or mouth moves using letters.  The hard part is figuring out which letters stand for what mouth moves.  Today we are going work on finding the mouth move for the letter i.  I makes the /i/ mouth move.  Sometimes it is hard to find the /i/ sound in words because it is not always at the beginning of the word.  Sometimes it is in the middle.
2.    Ask students:  Have you ever blown a big bubble with bubble gum and it pops all over your mouth?  What did it feel like on your mouth?  Would you say it was icky and sticky?  Let’s try and stretch out the words icky and sticky and see if we can hear the /i/ sound.  I will try it first.  I am going to say icky as slowly as I can.  /Iiiiicccckkkyyyy/.  Did you hear the /i/ sound?  Now let’s all try it with the word sticky.  /sssttttiiiiccckkkyyy/.   Good!  We are going to call the /i/ sound our icky, sticky sound!
3.    Let’s practice by saying a tongue twister [on chart].  “Izzy, the icky, sticky Indian, was in his igloo.”  Let’s all say this together three times.  Now let’s say it again and as we say it, let’s try and stretch out the /i/ sound in the words we hear it in.  “IIIIIIIIIzzy, the iiiiiiiicky, stiiiiiiiiicky IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIndian, was iiiiiin hiiiiiiis iiiiiiiiigloo.”  O.K.  Now let’s say it one more time and this time, let’s try and break the /i/ sound out the word and say it separately.  /i/zzy, the /i/cky, st/i/cky /i/ndian, was /i/n h/i/s /i/gloo.
4.    I will give each student a sheet of paper and ask them to take out a pencil.  “What letter do you think we use to represent the /i/ sound?  We use the letter i.  Let’s try writing it together.  Start at the fence line and then draw a straight line down to the ground.  Don’t forget, we always dot our i’s.  Ok, now everyone write a full line of i’s.  (I will walk around to room and check everyone’s letters.  I will also demonstrate one more time while the children are writing.)  Good,  when you see the letter I in words, it makes our icky, sticky, /i/ sound.
5.    Call on student’s to answer questions and tell how they knew:  Do you hear /i/ in chin or teeth?  In or out?  Trick or treat?  Big or small?  Now, let’s see if you can find the mouth move in some words.  Raise your hand if you hear the /i/ sound in these words.  If you don’t hear the sound, just leave your hand on your desk.  Izzy, the, icky, sticky, Indian, was, in, his, igloo.
6.    Read Tin Man Fix-It and talk about the story.  Ok, I am going to read the story again and I want you to raise your hand when you hear the icky, sticky, /i/ sound.  I will write the words on the board after we hear them.  Then, give the students a blank sheet of paper.  Ask them to draw and igloo and have them write a story about it using their inventive spellings.
7.    As an assessment, you may want to give the students a picture worksheet.  Have the students circle the pictures with the /i/ sound in them.  You may want to name the pictures with the students before they begin.


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

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