Dribble your D

Britney Cain


It is important for students to understand and recognize phonemes quickly and easily, so that they can become fluent readers. Because b and d are often confused by emergent readers, it is important to supply them with tools to help decipher between the two letters. In this lesson, students will learn to recognize /d/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (moving hand like you are dribbling a basketball) and the letter symbol d. Students will practice finding /d/ in spoken words by reciting tongue ticklers and pointing out the pictures that contain /d/ on a worksheet and apply phoneme awareness with /d/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters. Students will learn how to write d on primary paper.



Picture of a boy dribbling a basketball


Chart with tongue tickler- David’s daddy’s dog didn’t dig dirt in the dark.

Assessment worksheet with pictures of /d/ words

Primary paper


Word cards with dot, dig, ten, date, pug




1. Begin the lesson by introducing the phoneme /d/ and show the picture of a boy dribbling a basketball. Recite several words containing /d/ while stretching out each word so that students can hear the sounds you are making. “Watch me as I stretch out the letter D and make the /d/ sounds. Now say it with me, ‘dddddd’. The letter D sounds like someone dribbling a basketball. Can everyone dribble their basketball with me? (While moving hand up and down like dribbling a ball) /d/, /d/, /d/, /d/, /d/”.

2. “Now, everyone look into the mirror while you say /d/. What motion does your mouth make? Notice how your tongue hits the roof of your mouth and then you lower your jaw. Everyone put your hand under your chin so that you can feel your chin dropping when you say /d/. It is important for students to understand the movement of the mouth so that it is easier to pick out these phonemes in spoken words.

3. I’m going to show you how to find the sound /d/ in words. I’m going to say a word in slow motion, and you are going to listen for our dribbling /d/ sound. Hhhhh-oooo-llll-d. I felt my chin drop at the end of that word. Hhhh-ooo-lllll-d. The end of this word has the dribbling /d/.

4. Introduce the tongue tickler on chart paper. “David’s daddy’s dog didn’t dig dirt in the dark. Can everyone say this with me 2 more times? Now, let’s say it and stretch out the dribbling /d/ at the beginning of each word. DDDavid’s ddddaddy’s ddddog ddddidn’t ddddig dddddirt in the dddark. What words start with /d/?”

5. “Did you know that there is a symbol we use to write the sound /d/? Everyone take out their pencil and paper, and I will show you the special symbol. Let’s write the lower case c. Start by making a little c a little bit under the fence and curving around down to the sidewalk. Next, draw a line starting at the rooftop and bring it straight down to the sidewalk, which will connect the line and the little c. After I walk by and put a star on your paper, you may finish the line out by writing more d’s.

6. Call on students and ask: Do you hear the dribbling d in cat or dog? Duck or off? Yes or bed? “Now I’m going to say a list of words and when you hear a word with the dribbling d, I want you to dribble your basketball. List: funny, drink, double, bug, sad, door, purse.

7. Introduce “My Dog Fred” poem. “I am going to read this poem to you, and each time you hear the dribbling D, I want you to give me a big thumbs up. I am going to read it slower the second time and I want you to write the dribbling d words on your paper.

8. I will show the word dot and model how to decide if it is dot or pot. The d tells me that I need to use my dribbling d sound, /d/. dddddot. Now you try some: dig, dig or pig? ten, ten or den? pug, pug or dug? date, late or date?

9. Students will be assessed by completing a worksheet that displays pictures of several items. Students are directed to color the pictures that have the /d/ sound in them.


Lesson Design: “Sizzling Steak” by Stephanie Pollak  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/adventures/pollakel.htm

Poem: http://www.poetry4kids.com/poem-546.html

Tongue Tickler: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/ticklers.html

Ideas for Assessment Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/letterd.htm


Return to Invitations index