Cracking Sticks
An Emergent Literary Design
Yolanda Routh

Rationale: Before children can read and spell words, they must understand that letters stand for phonemes in spoken words.  Then, the must recognize that spellings map out the phoneme sequence in spoken words.  Children must recognize phonemes in order to learn correspondences.  Most of kindergarten is learning the consonant phoneme-grapheme correspondences.  It is difficult to come up with creative ways to remember correspondences.  This lesson will help students identify /k/.  Students will recognize /k/ in spoken words by creating meaning corresponding the letter and sound.  They will also be able to find /k/ in words.

Materials:  a stick, "cats can climb up couches, can you?" on chart paper, primary paper, pencil, marker, star stickers, /k/ objects to put around the room (i.e., cat stuffed animal, card, kite, corn, can, etc·), fish cards with cab, bud calm, back, card, room, catch printed on them, paperclips, "fishing pole", string, magnet, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff, chalk, paper with mice printed on it, worksheet with pictures of a cat, card, bus cookie, and book on it.

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that writing is a secret code.  However, we can figure out the code by examining the sounds that letters make.

    ? "Today, we are going to look at the letter c.  You may think that /k/ will be hard to find in words.  However, when you become familiar with the /k/ sound that c makes, you can find it in all kinds of words!  For example, Cathy, your name starts with /k/!"

2. Begin by bringing in a stick.  Tell students to listen when I break it in half.  Tell students that the /k/ that the sticks make when the /k/rack is what we are looking for.

    ? "Now that you know the sound we are looking for, I'll show you how to spot /k/ in a word.  You stretch the word out and see if you hear the /k/ like the stick made.  I'll try 'cat'.  /k/-/k/-/k/-/k/-a-t.   /k/-/k/-/k/.  I did it!  'Cat' has the /k/ sound."

3. Next, have an engaging sentence or tongue twister written on chart paper.  Have the students stretch out the /k/ sound in the sentence after you model it.  For the next practice, have the children act like they are cracking sticks when they hear the /k/ sound.

   ? "Next, letâs try to say a tongue twister (written on chart paper).  'Cats climb on couches can you?'  Letâs say it again and stretch out the /k/ sound.  '/K/-/K/-/K/-a-t-s /k/-/k/-/k/-a-n you?'  This time, act like you are cracking a stick when you hear the /k/ sound."  (Repeat sentence).

4. ãNow, we can use the letter c to spell /k/.  Letâs practice writing it.  I will go first and then you try.  I will start at the fence and /k/-/k/-urve around and /k/-/k/-ome up a little above the sidewalk.  Now, you try.  When I like the little c that you have made, I will put a star on your paper.  Then, you can make a whole row of c's!  Now you know when you see a c in a word to say /k/!"  Click here to see how to write the letter c !

5. "Now, I want you to find an object in the room that has /k/ in it (in groups)."  Have each group present and have the class agree or disagree.  Next, set out fish cards with some /k/ words and some not /k/ words.  Place paperclips on them and have a 'fishing' pole with a magnet on the end.  "Next, I'm going to let the group leader from each group come up and go fishing.  Whichever word they pick, I will say out loud.  If you hear the /k/, crack your stick.  If not give a thumbs down."

6. Read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff and have a grand discussion.  Reread slowly and have children crack their sticks when they hear the /k/ sound.  Accept answers that may not be c but still say /k/.  List the words on the board.  Have kids write a message about the story on mouse paper.  Have students use invented spelling.  Put their work on the bulletin board!

7. To assess, hand out a picture worksheet and have students circle words that begin with /k/.

References: Eldredge, J. Lloyd (1995).  Developing Phonemic Awareness Through Stories, Games, and Songs.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms, pp. 50-70.

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