Darren Gordon

Emergent Literacy

Using Folk Tales:  Vowel Influences on the Letter G.

Rationale: Recognize and identify words with hard and soft g sounds
Categorize words beginning with the letter g by their sound (i.e., hard or soft)

1. Jack and the Beanstalk

2. Computer with internet access.



Read the folk tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. If multiple copies are available, have students follow along or participate in a picture walk or shared reading depending on their ability. Ask students who lived at the top of the beanstalk. Discuss the word giant and its beginning sound.


Ask students to name other words beginning with the same sound as the word giant. Create a list of their words on chart paper or overhead (some words should begin with the letter j). Prompt students to name a word in the title of Jack and the Beanstalk that begins with the same sound as giant. Students should respond with the word Jack.


Read the words in the list aloud, having students read the words with you or repeat the words after you. Ask students what they notice about the beginning sound and letter of each word? Students should be able to generalize that in these words, the letters j and g have the same sound.


Circle the words that begin with the letter g and ask students to help you find clues for why these words have the same sound as the letter j. If necessary, add a few words to the list (e.g., ginger, gentle, general, gym, gypsy) so that you have at least two examples of g followed by e, i, and y.


Explain that many words have the soft g sound. Draw students' attention to the letter that follows g in each of the words you have circled. Even if they do not see the similarities, write (and read) the words gang, gap, go, gobble, gum, and gush. Help students to see that when followed by e, i, or y, the g is usually soft and when followed by a, o, or u, the g is usually hard.


On a new piece of chart paper or overhead, draw a line down the middle of the sheet making two columns, one marked "Soft g" and the other marked "Hard g." Have students decide which column each g word should go from their initial listing. As you are doing this as a group, you can do some informal assessment by calling on individual students to see if they understand the generalization. If you think students need extra practice, add more words to the list (e.g., gigantic, germ, generous, gymnasium, gas, got, guppy).


Arrange students at a computer either as a group or individually, depending on their ability. Direct them to open the bookmarked website, Animal Coloring Pages: G. Ask students to:

  • Find an animal that begins with the letters go and honks (goose).
  • Find an animal that begins with the letters gi and is very tall (giraffe).
  • Find an animal that begins with the letters ga and lives in Africa (gazelle).
  • Find an animal that begins with the letters ge, is small, and looks like a mouse (gerbil).
  • Find an animal that begins with the letters gu and is a bird (gull).

Students do not necessarily have to be able to read all of the words if they understand the generalization. Write the animal words on chart paper or overhead as students find their answers.


Distribute one copy of the hard and soft g worksheet to each student. Have them put the animal names in the proper columns. You may also ask them to add the words from the previous chart you did together.


Teacher observation and ongoing assessments during the lesson
Hard and soft g worksheet
If students have journals or notebooks, they can be encouraged to use g words in future writing.

International Reading Association
Rebecca L. Olness


Click here to return to innovations