Slither Like a Snake With S

Emergent Literacy

Rachel Bowman



Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (snake hissing) and the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials:  Primary paper


                   Chart with 'Six slippery snails, slid slowly'

                   Drawing paper


                   Six sleepy sheep (Puffin Books, 1991)

                   Word cards with SIT, SELL, PINK, SUN, LOW, and SAKE

                   Assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/.




1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is

learning what letters stand for. Our mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /s/. We spell /s/ with letter S. S looks like a snake, and /s/ sounds like a snake hissing.


2. Let's pretend to hiss like a snake, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime hissing snake] Notice where your top teeth are? (top teeth stacked on bottom teeth). When we say /s/, we blow air between out top teeth and lower teeth.


3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word list. I'm going to stretch list out in super slow motion and listen for my hiss. Lll-i-i-ist. Slower: Lll-i-i-i-s-t

There it was! I felt my teeth bite down on one another and blow air. I can feel the hiss /s/ in list.


4. Let's try a tongue tickler [on chart]. 'Six slippery snails, slid slowly.' Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /s/ at the beginning of the words. 'Sssssix ssslllipppppeerrry ssssnnaillss sssslllidd ssssllowlly.' Try it again, and this time break it off the word: '/s/ix /s/ lippery /s/ nails /s/ lid /s/ lowly.'


5. Have students take out primary paper and pencil. We use letter S to spell /s/. Capital S looks like a snake. Let's write the lowercase letter s. Start just below the rooftop. Start to make a little c up in the air, and then make a backwards c down to the sidewalk. I want to see everybody's s. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in work or sun? singer or toe? on or slow? list or drop? still or what? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Slither like a snake if you hear /s/: The, silly, slippery, slug, flipped, for, some, sweet, red, suckers.


7. 'Let's look at an S book. This book is about a silly creature with a name that starts with /s/. Can you guess?' Read page _, drawing out /s/. Ask

children if they can think of other words with /s/. Ask them to make up a silly creature name like Siffer-Seffer-Seff, or Sooter-Slipper-Sang. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly creature. Display their work.


8. Show SIT and model how to decide if it is sit or mit: The S tells hiss like a snake, /s/, so this word is sss-it, sit. You try some: SELL: sell or sell? Pink: sink or pink? SUN: sun or fun? LOW: low or slow? SAKE: sake or make?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with S. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.




Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case forteaching recognition of phoneme identity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 805-812.l


Assessment worksheet:


'S' image:


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