Getting Icky and Sticky with /i/

Emergent Literacy

Haley Dykes


Students must develop phonemic awareness in order to identify letters and become effective readers. It is very important for children to master the short vowels first, since they occur in every word. The goal of this lesson is for students to be able to identify the short i sound, /i/, by learning a meaningful visual and oral representation of /i/, practice finding /i/ in words modeled by the teacher, and by completing a practice worksheet.


-Poster with i=/i/ listed under a picture of icky sticky fingers.

-Word cards with DID, FIX, THICK, KISS, GRIN

-Individual cards identical to the poster for students to have.

-Chart with tongue twister. (Isabel the Iguana is incredibly itchy)

-A copy of the book Tin Man Fix-It (Sheila Cushman, Educational Insights: Carson. California, 1990.) for each student

-Assessment worksheet [Words that Start With the Letter I (short i)]


1. I Will introduce the lesson by explaining that letters make up words, and it is important to learn the different sounds of the letters so we can become good readers. First I will build some background information by talking to the class about short vowels. I will say, 'Who remembers some short vowels we have learned?' Then after some discussion, I will say, 'Today, we will work on the short vowel i, which makes an /i/ sound. After we recognize the sound /i/ in spoken words, we will learn how to read i=/i/ in a book.'

2. I will pass out the cards with the phoneme and picture on it to the students. I will say to students, 'Pretend you have a big, delicious ice cream cone in your hands. The ice cream is melting and drip drip dripping down your hands. Now, look at your fingers- your fingers are all icky and sticky! Everyone say Iiiick! Can you hear the /i/ sound in icky sticky? Watch my mouth and listen as I say it. Iiiiiiiicky Stiiiiiicky. Now lets say it together. Very good!'

3. I will say to students, 'Now that we have learned the phoneme /i/, I am going to give you a fun tongue twister to help you with the sound /i/.' I will then model the tongue twister and emphasize the /i/ sound with the icky sticky hand gesture 'Isabel the Iguana is incredibly itchy'. I will say, 'Lets say it together three times with the hand gesture and stretch out the /i/ sound. Nice job, everyone!'

4. I will say to students, 'We found the /i/ sound in Isabel by recognizing that i is at the beginning of the word and it makes the /i/ sound. Lets try to find the /i/ sound in other words that do not start with i. I will model a word for you first by saying it slowly and stretching out that /i/ sound. Lick. Liiiiiiick. Do you hear the /i/ sound? Great job! Lets try some together. Raise your hand if you can hear the /i/ sound in mix. Drag out the /i/ sound. Very good. What about spit? Very nice. Now, do you hear the /i/ sound in fat or thin? Snake or lizard? Grin or frown? Fix or brake?

5. I will read the book Tin Man Fix It to the class. Before I begin, I will give a brief book talk: 'Tim is a tin man who works in a garden with his friend Jim. One day, Tim gets knocked over and falls apart and it is up to Jim to fix him. Do you think Jim can save his friend? We will have to read to find out!' I will explain to them that every time they hear the /i/ sound to raise their icky sticky fingers. When we are finished with the book, we will go back over all of the words we heard the /i/ sound in and write them on the board.

6. I will show the word cards and ask the students to tell me if it says itch or ditch. 'How do we know? Because we see the i at the beginning of itch and we know it makes the /i/ sound. Great job everyone. Now you try some: DID: did or lid? KISS: miss or kiss? FIX: fix or mix? That was great!'

7. For assessment, I will give every student a worksheet where they can cut, color, and write on. The words are: igloo, iguana, inch, imp, ink, insect, and a blank spot for them to fill in 'What else starts with i?'




1. Cushman, Sheila. Tin Man Fix It. Educational Insights. Carson, CA :1990.

2. Enchanted Learning, Short I Alphabet Activities Page.

3.Strowd, Michelle. 'Icky Sticky Mess'. Auburn University, Alabama, 2002.