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Purple Polly Platypus

Katheryn Frey
Emergent Literacy


Students need to be able to recognize individual phonemes and associated them with their corresponding letter or letters before they can read. We also know that letter knowledge is the best predictor of first-year reading achievement followed by the ability to pick out phonemes in auditory language. This lesson will help children identify /p/ in spoken words by giving them meaningful representations, practicing finding /p/ in words, giving them visuals, and showing them the letter symbol for /p/.


primary paper
poster board with “Purple Polly platypus plays with Perry the pink, pudgy pig.”
blank paper
1 index card with the letter p on it
small picture of a puppy for each student (simple, black and white, can be printed all on the same page and cut out for each student)
book - Pillow Pup
picture worksheet (several pairs of pictures, one containing /p/ and one not)


1. Start by explaining to the students that in the English language we represent certain sounds, which we make with specific mouth movements, with letters. To read, we have to learn which letters go with which mouth movements. Today we are going to learn about the mouth moving to make /p/. Here is a card with the letter p. The letter p makes the /p/ sound.

2. Ask students: Have you ever heard what happens when you put popcorn in the microwave? Watch my mouth: /p/! Can you say it with me? /p/! That’s the mouth move we’ll be looking at today! Say it for me one more time.

3. Lets try a tongue twister with /p/ in it (on a poster board). I’ll say it first (pointing to each word as it is said). “Purple Polly platypus plays with Perry the pink, pudgy pig.” Now let’s read it slowly together. Listen for the /p/ sound! Okay, this time I’m going to say it and clap my hands every time I hear /p/. Now you guys say it together and clap every time you say /p/.

 4. Have the students get out their primary writing paper and a pencil. The letter p can be used to spell /p/. Now lets write the letter p. First, watch me. Start at the fence, go straight down to the ditch, come up and put his chin on the sidewalk. Now you try. Once you’ve finished your p, show it to me. Once I’ve put a sticker on it, please write ten more. When you see the letter p in a written word, it means say /p/.

5. Now lets practice finding /p/ in words. First I will say the word quickly, then I will say it slowly. When I say it the second time, make the popcorn sounds when you hear /p/. “pig, /p/ (/p/!)…/i/…/g/.” The /p/ sound was at the beginning of that word! Let’s try another. “nap, /n/…/a/…/p/ (/p/!)”. (Repeat with several more words: pencil, grape, tap, hopper, flip, paper)

 6. Hand out a piece of blank paper to each student. I want each one of you to think of something with /p/ in it and very quickly draw a picture of it. If you need help thinking of something to draw, I will give you some ideas. You have 5 minutes and then we will share. (After they’ve finished drawing their pictures, post the pictures around the area and ask the students to say the name of the picture. Then say it slowly back to them and have them clap when they hear the /p/ sound.)

7. Call on students who raise their hand to answer: Do you hear /p/ in plate or fork? Lamp or desk? Kitten or puppy? Soap or water? Now I’m going to read out tongue twister again and this time I want you to clap every time you hear /p/. (Read slowly) “Purple Polly platypus plays with Perry the pink, pudgy pig.”

8. Introduce the book: Today we’re going to read a story about a dog who gets a hold of a pillow. Do you think it’s a good thing when a dog gets a hold of a pillow? What do you think might happen? Let’s read and find out. Read Pillow Pup and talk about the story. Hand out a small printed graphic of a puppy to each student. Then reread the story and have the students hold up their puppy picture each time they hear /p/ in the story.

9. Assessment: Hand out the picture worksheet. After naming each picture with the students, have them circle the picture in each pair whose name has /p/ in it.


Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. 1990. p. 36.

Ochiltree, Diane. Mireille d’Allance (Illustrator). Pillow Pup. Margaret K. McElderry, 2002.

Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website – English Phonemes, Spellings, Example Words, and Meaningful Names.



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