Slinky Scaly Snakes

Emergent Literacy

Elizabeth Bell

Rationale:  Children need to be able to see the letters in words and be able to recognize their meaning.  The focus for this lesson is to introduce s=/s/ and to teach children how to write the letter. One other focus is to teach the children how to write an upper case S.

Materials: primary paper, pencils, S cards, pictures of objects starting with S (snake, school, slug, shirt, ship, sun), picture of objects not starting with S (book, toy, bicycle, watch, dog, bag, cookie, cat), tongue twister: “Sammy the slithering snake sneaks so silently and secretly”, book: Sheep on a Ship


  1. Today, we are going to talk about the letter /s/ (s=/s/).  Watch me say snake. When you make the /s/ your tongue hisses and your lips move apart. Do you hear an s in sing or bat, say or bake, silly or bad, sound or dog?  Continue these steps until each student has an understanding.
  2. I will now write a tongue twister on the board for the children: Sammy the slithering snake sneaks so silently and secretly.  Then I will ask the children to say it together. Now, I will demonstrate drawing out the s=/s/ sound. Now I will say the tongue twister by myself and I want each of you to listen carefully: SSSSSammy the sssslithering ssssssnake sssssneaks ssssso sssssilently and ssssecretly. Did you all notice that I drew out the s sound just like ssss? Now that you have heard me say it once, I want each of you to participate in saying it together being sure to draw out the s sound really well.
  3. I will then ask the children to take out their primary paper and have them practice writing the letter S in both upper and lower case. Once I model it, they will do it. Now we are ready to practice writing the letter S. I will show you first how to write the capital S. The first step in writing a capital S is to form a c in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back. Now I would like each of you to pull out a sheet of paper and pencil and let’s begin doing it together.
  4. Next, I will hold up cards with the pictures on them of objects that do and don’t begin with the letter S. I will ask them to recognize what objects begin with the letter S and which ones do not. I have some pictures I want us to look at. I want each of you to tell me which of the objects begin with letter S. Watch me do one first. This is a “book”. The word book does not have the S sound that I am looking for. Does everyone understand? Now let’s do some together. In order to assess the children, I will informally asses each child by calling on them.
  5. Now we are going to read the book Sheep on a Ship.  This is a book about sheep that are on a ship. The sheep have lost one of their friends and are in a hurry to find him. In order to find out, we will need to read the book. We will first read the book aloud and then I would like us to go back and find words in the story which begin with our /S/ sound. To use invented spelling, I will then ask the children to write the words that begin with S.
  1. To assess the children, I will have them come up to my desk to assess them on an individual basis. I will choose a book that has many sounds with s=/s/ such as Sheep On A Ship.

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Reading Genie

Lecture Notes from CTRD 3710

Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Illinois (1990)