Hop To It

Kim Holzapfel

Emergent Literacy


The ability to recognize the letters of the alphabet is one of the two best predictors of the childās reading success ( Adams ).  This lesson will teach students to recognize the letter h in print and the phoneme /h/ in spoken words.  This goal will be met by having children listen for and repeat the phoneme in spoken words and by having them practice writing the letter h (both capital and lowercase). 



-primary paper


-tongue twister (Harry hopped happily home) written on board or poster

-a bag of objects- some that start with h and some that do not.  Examples are:  hat, heart, a toy horse, a toy house, fake hair, a toy hippo, a tennis ball, a toy car, a deck of cards, and a beanie baby.

-Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who.  Random House Books for Young Readers.  1954

-picture worksheet for assessment with pictures of ham, horse, butter, grass, hands, feet, and a hippo.



-The class will begin with a review of the letters previously taught, (vowels and some consonants). Discuss both the letter and the phoneme and ask students for example words for the phonemes.  Some of the vowels that we will go over are:  a, u.  Some of the consonants that we will go over are:  b, d. 

-Write the letter h on the board. "Do any of you have a name that begins with the letter h? The letter h says /h/."

-Ask the students: "Do you hear the /h/ in the word hop? Good. It sounds kind of like a person who is panting from running.  Say it with me.  When you hear me say a word and it has the /h/ sound I want you to move your arms back and forth and make the panting sound like this (give example).  Let's practice: /h/op (stretch out the /h/).

-Let's try a tongue twister now: (reading off the board or poster) "Harry hopped happily home."  Can you say it with me?  (Repeat.)  Now, let's really stretch out the /h/ at the beginning of the words.  "Hhhhharry hhhhopped hhhappily hhhhome."  Let's try that again (Repeat again in the same way).  Now let's do it again, only this time lets try to break the /h/ off of the beginning of the words like this /h/orse.  Ok? Let's try it.  "/h/arry /h/opped /h/appily /h/ome."  One more time (repeat the same way again).

-Ask students to get out their primary paper and a pencil.  "We use the letter h to spell /h/.  Lets all write it together.  To make the capital letter H:  Down for a wall, down for a wall, then cross at the fence.  Everybody try it.  Please raise your hand when you are done and I will come and see it.  After I have seen it, I want you to write a 5 more the same way.  After everyone is done, show them how to write a lowercase h:  Start at the rooftop, come down and hump over.  Everybody try it.  Please raise your hand when you are done and I will come and see it.  After I have seen it, I want you to write 5 more the same way.  Now you know that when you hear the /h/ in a word, then that is your signal to write the letter h, and when you see the letter h in a word, then thatās your signal to say /h/."  

-Ask the following questions to the students:  "Do you hear /h/ in hop or walk?  horse or pig?  jump or hop?  mountain or hill?"

-Get out the bag of objects.  Pull out the objects.  Ask what they are and if they have the /h/ sound or not.  For example, pull out a hat.  "What is this?  A hat.  Does hat have the /h/ sound?  Yes.  Good.  Then pull out a tennis ball.  What is this?  A tennis ball.  Does tennis ball have the /h/ sound?  No.  Good job."

-Give a booktalk for Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss.  "Horton is an elephant that is splashing around in a pond and hears a cry for help coming from a dust speck.  Horton goes and saves the dust speck before he falls into the pond and many people make fun of him for saving the dust speck.  Horton does not pay any attention to these people and saves him and learns that he is from a city that refers to themselves as 'The Who's.'  Many of Horton's jungle friends are upset with him and so they steal the dust speck and send him to be dropped in a field of clover.  You will have to read the rest of this story to find out what happens to the dust speck and to Horton!" 

-Read the book Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss.  Have the students move like they are running whenever they hear the /h/ sound.  Practice with the title, making sure everyone moves their arms when they hear the /h/ sound.  Have the students draw a picture of something from the story.  Have them use invented spelling to write a sentence about what they drew.  Display their work.

-For assessment, distribute a sheet with pictures on it and have the students color the pictures that begin with the /h/ sound and x out the pictures that do not start with the /h/ sound.  

Checklist for teacher to use:

-Does the lowercase "h" go from the top wall to the bottom and hump over?

-Does the uppercase "H" go from the top wall to the bottom and then cross the fence?

-Can the student identify which pictures begin with the letter "H" and are they colored?

-Can the student identify which objects make the /h/ sound when pulled out of the bag?  Such as the hat, toy horse, heart, etc.



1.  Adams, Marilyn. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print - A Summary. Champaign : Center for the Study of Reading Research and Education Center , 1990.

2.  Dr Seuss. Horton Hears a Who. Random House Books for Young Readers. 1954.

3.  Cassie Keith- Hello H!  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/begin/keithel.html

4.  Dickinson, Sue. Spell, Read, and Write. How to Print Letters (handout).  

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