Sssss Slithers the Snake

Emergent Literacy

Jacob Johnson

Rationale:  Phonemic awareness and letter name knowledge are the two best predictors of emergent readers’ future success in reading.  S is one of the first letters to teach emergent readers, because it has a sustained sound.  The students will learn that s stands for /s/ in spoken language.  This lesson will give the students practice recognizing /s/ in speech and s in print.  The students will give a signal that they hear /s/ in speech and will circle s in print.


Materials:  Silly Sally (book), popsicle sticks with paper snakes glued onto them, primary paper, and pencil


Procedures:  1. Explain that letters make up a code that can be decoded by skillful readers.  Also explain that each letter has a unique sound. 


2. We are going to talk about the letter s.  The letter s kind of looks like a snake.  It also makes the sound of a snake.  What sound does a snake make?  So whenever you see an s, you know it makes the /s/ sound.


3. [Pass out the popsicle sticks with snakes].  We are going to play a game.  I’m going to name an animal and you tell me if you hear the /s/ sound in that animal’s name by holding up your popsicle stick high in the air.  Here is an example.  If I said snake, would you hold your popsicle stick in the air?




4. (Students take out primary paper and pencils.)  Now I am going to teach you how to write the letter s.  To make an upper-case S, make a curve up in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back.  To make a lower-case s, make a curve just under the fence, then swing back.  Now you try.  Check to make sure all students write s and S correctly.  Good, now I want everyone to write and upper-case S six times.  Now everyone write a lower-case s six times.


5. To find /s/ in a word, say the word very slowly and listen for /s/.  Let’s try this one.  Possum.  P-p-o-o-s-s-u-m. Po-s-s-um.  There it is, in the middle.  Does everyone hear /s/?


6. I am going to read a silly story about a girl named Sally.  Sally is going toward town in a silly way.  She dances a jig with a pig and plays leapfrog with a dog.  Listen carefully to find out some of the other things Silly Sally does on her way to town.  Also, I want everyone to listen for the /s/ sound.  Read Silly Sally to the class and discuss with them.    


7.  For assessment, call out pairs of words and ask the students to write down on their primary paper which word has the /s/ sound in it.  For example:


Do you hear /s/ in Sally or dog?




Melanie Alvarez.  Hooty Hoo.  The Reading Genie.


Wood, Audrey.  Silly Sally.  Orlando, FL:  Harcourt, 1992.

Click here to return to Perspectives