Grrrrrowling Like a Dog

Lindsay Jones
Emergent Literacy


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /r/, the phoneme represented by R.  Students will learn to recognize /r/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (clenching teeth like a growling dog).  The students will first learn the letter symbol R.  They will also practice finding /r/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /r/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters. 

Materials:  Primary paper, pencil, list of R words, picture of letter R, tongue twister, The Radish Man song, words on index cards, crayons, two assessment worksheets.


1.  Say:  Did you know that your mouth moves a certain way for every letter in the alphabet. Today we are going to learn about the letter R.  We are going to figure out the way the mouth looks when we say words that start with R or have the /r/ sound in them.  We spell /r/ with letter R.  /r/ sounds like a dog growling or starting up a chainsaw. 

2.  Say:  Now lets pretend we are an angry dog and we are growling.  /r/, /r/, /r/. [Make growling noises like a dog].  Say:  Lets notice what our teeth are doing when we make our growling sounds.  Our top and bottom teeth are clinched together with no space in between, and our tongue is curled up at the roof of our mouth. 

3.  Say: Now we are going to find /r/ in some words I have written down.  I am going to show you how to find the /r/ in a word first before you do it on your own.   We are going to look at the work road now.  I’m going to say the word very slowly so you can hear all the different letter sounds.  Rrr-ooa-d.  Slower: rrrr-o-o-o-a-d.  I feel my top and bottom teeth touching each other and my tongue is curled up.  I can feel the growling /r/ in road. 

4.  Say:  Let’s try a tongue twister [on CHART] now.  “Ruth and Rachel ran after Richard’s rabbit in the rain”.  Then we say it all together three times.  Now the teacher says it again, but with stretching out the /r/ at the beginning of each word.  “Rrrruth and Rrrrrachel rrrran after Rrrrichard’s rrrrrabbit in the rrrrain”.  Try it again this time breaking off the /r/ from each word.  Say: “/r/ uth and /r/ achel /r/ an after /r/ ichard’s /r/ abbit in the /r/ ain.” 

5.  [The students now need to take out their primary paper and pencil].  We use the letter R to spell /r/.  A capital R looks like the letter P with another leg coming out of it.  Kind of like a kick stand for a bicycle.  Say:  Lets write the uppercase letter R.  To write a letter R you need to start at the rooftop and go straight down to the sidewalk.  Then go back up to the roof and bump around to the fence, and draw a diagonal stick down.  Now I want everyone to hold up there paper with the letter R on it because I want to see it.  After I tap your head I want you to write nine more R’s. 

6.  Now have the students choose between two words, where one has the /r/ and the other does not.  Call on the students who raise their hands and have them explain how they know that word has the /r/ sound.  Say: Do you hear /r/ in work or left? Hair or fun? Love or rain? Drop or gone? Red or green? [Allow time in between each set of words for students to answer and explain answers].  Now let’s see if you can spot the mouth move of /r/ in some words.  Growl like a dog if you hear /r/ in: hair, seen, loft, green, sore, cat, rod, the, rice, furry, head, like, ride. 

7.  Say: We are going to look at a song that has words in it with the letter R.  This song is called The Radish Man and it is sung to the tune of The Muffin Man.  The teacher will sing it aloud first by herself and then the class with join in.  Then there needs to be a time when each student names a word that begins with the letter R in the song.  Now have the students create their own five-line song that contains words with the letter R.  Have some students sing their new song for the class.  Booktalk: Instead of reading a book we are going to sing a song.  This song is about a radish man who loves to sing and he especially loves to sing about the letter R.  Let's sing the song to see which R words he likes to sing about. 


8.  Say: Now I want you to look at some words and tell me which ones start with the letter R or have the /r/ sound in them.  Show the word ROAD and model how to decide if it is road or toad.  Does this word make the growling sound which means it has the /r/ sound.  You try some: RED: bed or red? RAKE: rake or bake? ROB: knob or rob? RIDE: hide or ride? RAN: pan or ran?


9.  For assessment, the teacher needs to distribute a worksheet reviewing the /r/ sound and words and pictures that have to do with the letter R.  Students will need to draw lines to the pictures that are items that start with the letter R.  They can compete another worksheet where they will need to color the pictures of the words that begin with R and complete the word by writing an R. 


References: Lesson design and outline is based upon the “Brush Your Teeth with F” lesson designed by Dr. Bruce Murray. 

 Pearson Matthews: Popping Popcorn

Assessment Worksheet: and


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