Wash Your Hands…they are icky sticky!

Beginning Reading

Barret Freeman



In order for children to be successful in  reading  and writing words, they must have the understanding that each letter (or group of letters) stands for a phoneme (or “mouth move”, vocal gesture).  By learning about letter-sound correspondences, these beginning readers can become fluent readers.  Short vowels are often very difficult for children to identify.  Long vowels are easier because they “say their name”, but short vowels are equally as important.  This lesson will use letter box lessons, tongue twister practice, and whole text reading to teach students to recognize the correspondence i = /i/ in spoken words.  It will also help children to learn to spell and read words with the “short i" (i = /i/) sound.


·  List of words to compare -ex. Do you hear /i/ in sick or well (word list: stand or sit; sip or gulp; stick or rock; hen or pig, sick or well)

·  Large Elkonin boxes for teacher demonstration

·  Large letters for teacher demonstration (a, b, c, e, h, i, l, n, p, r, s, t)

·  Elkonin boxes for each student (strips of 5)

·  Laminated letters for each student (a, b, c, e, h, i, l, n, p, r, s, t)

·  List of letterbox words for students to spell: 2- (is, at) 3-(pit, nap, pet, big, chip) 4-(last, spin) 5-(split, print, blast)

·  Copy of “Tin Man Fix-It” for each pair of students (Educational Insights- 1990)

·  Primary writing paper for each student (for message)

·  Pencil for each student

·  “Silly Words” sheet for each student (teb, wif. gib, rab, zilt, blept, nilt, tand)


   1.“Class, today we are going to learn about the letter i.  The letter i makes the sound /i/.  Have you ever eaten a sticky piece of candy and gotten it all over your hands?  Well whenever we hear the /i/    sound, I want you to shake your hands in front of you and say icky sticky.  Can everyone try that with me?”  Icky sticky.  “Good, now let’s try it again, but this time we’ll stretch out the /i/ sound like this…iiiiiicky stiiiiiicky.  Now you try it with me.”  Iiiiicky stiiiiicky. “Great job!”

   2.”Ok, now we are going to say a tongue twister with our /i/ sound.  Listen first and then we’ll say it together.  Izzy the iguana is in the igloo.  Now say it with me… great. Now we’re going to say it again, but this time we’ll stretch out our /i/ sound.  Listen first, and then do it with me.  Iiiiizy the iiiiguana iiiiiis iiiiin the iiiiiigloo.  Ok, now say it with me.  Great!  Now let’s try it one more way.  This time we are going to separate our /i/ sound from the rest of the word like this… /I/ zzy the /i/ guana /i/ s /i/ n the /i/ gloo.  Good job.  You all were great at paying attention to our /i/ sound!”

   3.”Ok, now let’s practice finding the /i/ sound in some spoken words.  I will say two words and I want you to tell me which word has the /i/ sound.  We’ll just shake our icky sticky hands in front of us    when we hear the /i/ sound.”Do you hear /i/ in sick or well?  In stand or sit?  In sip or gulp?  In stick or rock?  In hen or pig?  Good job. You all did very good using your icky sticky hands."

   4.Next, I will do a group letterbox lesson with the whole class.  I will pass out strips of 5 Elkonin boxes to each student.  I will also pass out sets of laminated letters to each student (a, b, c, e, h, i, l, n, p, r, s, t).  “Now I’m going to show you how to spell a word using our handy letter boxes.  It is really fun!  We have to remember that each box stands for a different sound that our mouth makes (the boxes do not tell us how many letters are in the word).  Ok, I’m going to spell the word strip. ( I will use my larger Elkonin boxes and letters on the board to allow the students to see everything that I am doing).  Ok, to spell strip I want to first stretch it out to see how many sounds it has.  Ssssss ttttttt rrrrrr iiiiii pppppp.  Ok, my word strip has five sounds so I will use five boxes to spell it.  The first sound I hear in strip is sssss.  I am going to find my letter s  and put it in the first box.  The second sound I hear in strip  is ttttttt.  I am going to find my letter t and put it in the second box.  The next sound that I hear in my word strip is rrrrr.  I’ll get the r and put it in the third box.  The fourth sound that I hear in strip is iiiiiii.  Oh wait…that’s our icky sticky sound!  I am going to find my letter “i” and place it in the third box.  The last sound I hear in my word strip  is ppppp.  I will find my “p” and put it in the last box.  That spells strip!”

   5. After modeling how to spell a word using letter boxes, I will do a group letter box lesson.  I will use some review words (short a and short e) to make sure that the students are actually decoding and not just repeating the /i/ sound everytime.  Letter box words: 2- (is, at) 3-(pit, nap, pet, big, chip) 4-(last, spin) 5-(split, print, blast)  I will give the students one word at a time (from smallest phonemes to largest phonemes) and let them use their letterboxes to spell it.  I will circulate through the classroom observing to see if the students are spelling the words correctly.  If they spell a word wrong, I will pronounce what they spelled and ask them if they can change it to say the letterbox word.  I will give needed help if necessary (I do not want my students to get to the point of major frustration).

  6.After the students have practiced spelling each word with their letterboxes, I will take up the boxes and letters.  I will spell each word on the board and ask the students to read it out loud to me.  If they seem to be having a difficult time, I will use body coda blending to help them decode the word (cover up all letters except for the vowel, ask student to say the vowel’s sound, uncover part of word up to the vowel and ask student to say it…uncover the whole word and ask student to read it).

  7.I will divide the students into pairs and give each pair a copy of “Tin Man Fix-It”  Before the students read the book, I will give a quick book talk to get them interested.  “Tin Man Fix-It is a book about a tin man named Tim.  One day Tim and his friend Jim are outside working and a big kid named Sid comes flying towards them on his skateboard.  Sid runs into Tim and Tim falls to the floor in a bunch of pieces!  To find out what happens to Tim and Sid, you have to read the book.   The partners will take turns reading the book to each other.  I will walk around and observe the students’ reading.

  8.I will have the students write a message.  “Ok class, now we are going to write a message.  I want you to write about your favorite candy that is icky sticky.  Before you write your message, I’ll write one to you on the board.”  I will write the sentence ‘I love tootsie rolls’ on the board for students to see.  Then I will allow the students to write their messages.

  9.I want to assess the students using some simple psuedowords.  I will use pseudowords with /i/, /a/, and /e/ to make sure that saying /i/ is not just routine.  This will allow me to tell if the students are actually decoding or just guessing when reading words.  I will give each student a sheet called “silly words”(teb, wif. gib, rab, zilt, blept, nilt, tand).  They will be allowed to color it while I call each student to my desk individually to have them read the pseudowords to me.


Clabby, Caitlin. Icky Sticky Hands

Tin Man Fix-It.  Educational Insights. 1990

Murray, Bruce.  How to Teach Letterbox Lessons (reading genie website)

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