It’s Icky Icky Sticky!!

Beginning Literacy

Stephanie Fleming


Rationale:  It is necessary for beginning readers to be able to recognize that letters map out phonemes in spoken words.  In this lesson, the children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words that contain the correspondence i = /i/. This correspondence will be learned by giving the children a meaningful representation and by giving them practice with both written and spoken words that contain i = /i/.


Materials:  Picture of an ice cream cone dripping, tongue twister poster with: “Izzy the Iguana was ill with injuries inside the igloo,” primary pencils and paper for each student, Elkonin boxes (letterboxes): one set for each student and one large set for the teacher, plastic letters for each student and oversized letters for the teacher: i, t, s, p, k, d, g, h, m, f, l, c, k, n, a; list of pseudowords: fim, tib, frip, lin, bik, jit, mip, and the book, Liz is Six, for each student.


  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that in reading it is important to understand that different letters make different sounds.  “Today we are going to learn a fun way to remember that the letter i says /i/ in words.  Has anyone had ice cream drip down their hands when they were eating an ice cream cone on a hot day?  What did you say when that happened?  That’s right, you said ‘Icky!’  This is the sound that the short i makes.  Let’s all pretend that we have sticky ice cream dripping down our hands and say together ‘Iiiicky Stiiicky’ while we shake our hands.  Good job!  So remember this is the sound the short i makes, and each time we see an i like this, remember our icky sticky ice cream fingers.”
  2. “Now we are going to look at this fun tongue twister.  Let’s all read the tongue twister together: ‘Izzy the Iguana was ill with injuries inside the igloo.’  Good, now we are going to say the tongue twister again but this time when you hear the short I sound, I want you to shake your hands and stretch out the /i/ sound like we just practiced.  I-i-i-zzy the i-i-i-guana was i-i-ill with i-i-i-nguries i-i-i-nside the i-i-i-gloo. 
  3. In order to model how to spell words with the i =/i/ correspondence, we’re going to use our letterboxes and letters.  Make sure that all of the students have their letterboxes and all of their letters out (and that they can see them all).  “I’m going to spell the first word to show you how we use our letterboxes, and remember that each box holds just one sound.  The first word is fix. I’m going to stretch the word out in my mouth so I can hear all the different sounds, /ffff//iiii//xxxx/.  The first sound I hear is the /f/ sound, so I will put the letter f here in the first box. /ffff//iiii//xxxx/, I think I hear our icky, sticky, /i/ sound next, so I will put the letter i in our second box. /ffff//iiii//xxxx/, I hear the /x/ sound at the end of the word, so I will put the letter x in the last box.  There, now I think I have all the sounds represented, but let’s make sure, /ffff//iiii//xxxx/.  Yes, that’s how you spell fix! Let’s see if you can do some on your own now.”
  4. Begin the letterbox lesson.  Give students one word to spell at a time while you walk around the room, checking students’ progress.  If a student spells a word incorrectly, read the word the way the student spelled it and ask them to try again.  Move on the next word when all students have the correct spelling.  Make sure to tell the students how many boxes they need for each word in the lesson.  2 phonemes- [it], 3 phonemes- [sip, has, kid, pig, him], 4 phonemes- [flick, spin, list, pink], 5 phonemes- [swift].  After all of the words have been spelled, write them on the board, one at a time, and ask the students to read them aloud. After letterbox lesson is completed, take up the materials.
  5. We are now ready to practice reading with the /i/ sound, and I am going to give a book talk to introduce the book.  “Today we are going to read the book Liz is Six. This book is about a little girl named Liz who is turning six and gets a baseball glove for her birthday!  She is able to catch the little pig’s hit, but will the little pig be able to catch her big hit?  You’ll have to read the story to find out what happens to the pig and Liz.  
  6. Let the students read their copy of the Liz is Six book silently while walking around to monitor their progress.  If the students come across any problems they may raise their hand for help. Then, when all of the students have finished reading, have them raise their hands and tell what words they found that contained /i/. We will make a list of all the words they found on the board and then read them as a class while doing the iicky stiicky hand gestures.
  7. For assessment, I will ask students to write a message about what they want to be when they grow up or their favorite after school activity.  While students are busy writing, I will have the students come up one at a time and decode a list of pseudowords.  I will assess their understanding of the i= /i/ correspondence by counting the number of pseudowords they read correctly.



Loveless, Valerie. “Iiiicky, Iiiicky, Stiiicky!” Beginning Reading Design.

Murray, B.A. & Lesniak, T (1999).  The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650. 

(1990). Phonics Reader Short Vowel, Liz Is SixCarson, CA (USA): Educational Insights.

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