Perfectly Popping

popcorn kernel
Emergent Literacy

Gina Reynolds



           The best predictors of reading success are letter knowledge and phonemic awareness.  This means that children need to be aware that spoken words are made up of phonemes and that these vocal gestures have a corresponding letter(s) that represent them.  My goal in this lesson is that students will learn to identify p = /p/ in spoken words and will learn the written letter that represents it.


-Primary paper and pencil

- Chart with “Prince Peter put on his parka while eating pumpkin pie.”

-Picture cards of the following:  pig, pen, cat, soap, pear, bat, dog, plane, apple

-“Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss.


  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that all of the letters of the alphabet make different sounds.  Also explain that our mouths move differently when we say the different letters.  Review the letters we have previously learned. 

Boys and girls, we have been learning our letters so we can become better readers.  These letters that we have been learning all make different sounds and our mouths move differently to make those sounds.  Can you raise your hands and tell me some of the letters we have learned and the sounds they make?  (Students would give answers such as a says /a/ and /A/” and continue reviewing through the previously learned letters.) “Great!  Today we are going to continue learning our letters with the letter p.”

  1. Ask the students, "Has anyone ever heard a balloon pop?  Can anyone tell me what sound the balloon makes when it pops?  You’re right!  It makes a /p/ sound, and this is the sound that the letter p makes.  Now, let’s all make the /p/ sound together.  Demonstrate the /p/ sound and then have everyone join in.  Great job!  When we make the /p/ sound, can anyone tell me what your lips do?  Watch me say it.  Demonstrate with exaggeration the act of putting your lips together and letting out a small breath.  Ask the class to do this with you.  Some words that have the /p/ sound are, pop, pan, and put.  Everyone pretend to pop a balloon a couple of times.  This is the /p/ sound.
  2. Now let’s try a fun tongue twister [on chart].  Read it to them first and then explain the activity with the tongue twister. 

This time when we read the tongue twister, every time you hear and say the /p/ sound, pretend to pop a balloon in your hands.

  Repeat the activity until all of the students are popping at the correct times.

  1. [Practice writing the letter p].  Have students take out a piece of primary paper and a pencil. 

Now that we know the sound that p makes we are going to learn how to write the letter p.  Everyone pick up your pencil and follow my instructions.  To make the letter p, start at the fence and draw a straight line all the way down to the ditch.  Pick your pencil up and take it back up to the fence.  Now, draw a half circle that goes down to the sidewalk and touches the stick.  Now, I want all of you to practice making 5 more letter pwhile I walk around and see how good they are.

 Walk around and help students who need more guidance.  When they have all mastered this, continue with the lesson.

  1. Okay, now we’re going to play a game and I’ll give you two words and you tell me which one you hear the /p/ in.  For example, I might say, ‘Do you hear /p/ in hop or run?  (sound the words out for them this time).  /h/o/p/.  Hop.  /r/u/n/.  Run.  I hear the /p/ in hop!   Now, let's try this with the rest of our words.

Do you hear /p/ in:

            doze or sleep?

            up or down?

            sing or rap?

            apple or orange?

             You guys are really getting great at the /p/ sound.  This time I’m going to show you a couple of pictures.  I want you to say what the picture is, and if it has the /p/ sound, make a noise like you are popping a balloon.  [Hold up picture cards with the following:  pig, pear, pen, bat, cat, dog, soap, plane, apple].

  1. Read Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss.  Have the students to raise their hands every time they hear the /p/ sound.  When they correctly identify the /p/ sound write the words on the board.  After reading, have them look around the room and see if they can find other words with p in them.  Write these words on the board also.
  2. For assessment, give the students a worksheet with pictures and words containing the correspondence p = /p/ mixed with words that do not.  The students will circle the pictures and words that have p = /p/.


 Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. 1990.

 Dr Seuss, Hop on Pop.  Random House:  New York, New York. 1987

 Eldridge, J Loyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Prentice Hall, 1995. p.23-34

Plenty of Popping by Shealy Melton

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