Icky Sticky Tin Man

Beginning Reading Design

Tiffany Miller



            For children to become skillful readers they must acquire the alphabetic insight that enables them to recognize each letter of the alphabet and the sound that the letters make. Short vowels may be the hardest phonemes to recognize. By the end of this lesson, the child should be able to identify i = /i/. The children will be able to recognize the correspondence i = /i/ in spoken and written words through memorable sayings and pictures. Some studies have shown that the best predictors of reading success are letter recognition and phoneme awareness. So it makes it easier for a student to become a successful reader once they are able to recognize letters and their corresponding phonemes.




~ Primary Paper and pencil for each student

~ Picture of “Icky Sticky” i = /i/ (Lady shaking her hands)

~A copy of the book Tin Man Fix-It for each student

~ Poster with the tongue twister written out (The important Indian was ill inside his igloo)

~ Letter boxes for each student

~Enlarged letter boxes for teacher

~Small plastic letters for each student (i, t, n, f, x, m, b, g, z, p, k, d, e, a, h, r, w, s,)

~Large letters for teacher (i, t, n, f, x, m, b, g, z, p, k, d, e, a, h, r, w, s,)

~Chalk board and Chalk

~picture page with illustrations




  1. To begin the lesson, it is necessary to talk with the students about the importance of knowing the sounds that different letters make when they see them in words. This is a key concept in learning to read. “Today, we are going to talk about the short vowel i and the sound that it makes i = /i/.  Have you ever gotten something sticky stuck on your fingers? What sound do you normally make when it’s stuck on your fingers? You’re right! Usually we will say /i/ck!! Now let’s pretend that we have sticky fingers. Make sure to say the /i/ sound in /i/ck as you try to get the stickiness off your fingers. /iii/ck!!! Another way you can remember the sound is by saying “icky sticky”. (Show the “Icky Sticky” picture as the students shake their “icky” hands. Explain that the lady in the picture is doing just as we are. She has something “Icky Sticky” on her hands. Remember that the i sounds like /i/ in /iii/cky st/iii/cky.”
  2. “Now, to help us remember this sound we are going to learn a tongue twister with            

      the i = /i/ sound. (Show chart with the tongue twister on it to the students.) I will 

      read it one time through and then I would like us to try it all together.  (The

      important Indian was ill inside his igloo) Great Job!! This time when we say it, as        

       we hear the /i/ sound , let’s all make the “Icky Sticky” hand motion and really  

       stretch out the /i/ sound.   (The iiimportant Iiindian was iiill iiinside his iiigloo)

       Great Job ya’ll really understand this!!”

  1. Next the students will tell if they hear the /i/ sound in different words. “Do you hear the /i/ in fix or fox? Hint or went? Fast or List?”
  2. “Now that you seem to understand the /i/ sound in spoken language, (do “Icky Sticky!” hand gesture) we are going to practice writing the letter i.  So, take out a piece of primary paper and a pencil.  First, watch what I do. (Model on the board how to draw a lowercase i.  Have lines on the board that match their paper).  We start at the fence and go down to the sidewalk.  Then, pick up your pencil and give him a dot just above the fence.  Please do this five more times on your paper while I walk around and get a look at the great i’s you are drawing.” Great Job boys and girls!!!”  
  3. For the next activity have the students take out their plastic letters and letterboxes. “You want to be able to see each of the letters clearly, so make sure to spread out all the letters across your desk.” (Use the big model taped on the board so that everyone can see your boxes and letters.)  “Now, we are going to spell words that have the /i/ sound in them.  Remember each box represents a phoneme.  Watch as I spell the word hint.  h-h-h-i-i-i-n-n-n-t-t-t.  Sometimes it helps to say the word out loud so you can hear all of the sounds.  The first sound I hear in hint is /h/.   So, I am going to put the h in the first box.  What is the second sound I hear? (do “Icky Sticky!” hand gesture) Correct!  I hear the /i/ sound.  So, I’ll put an i in the next box.  The next sound I hear is /n/, and so I will put a /n/ in the third box. The last sound I hear is /t/, and so I put the t in the last box.  Let’s read our word.  H-i-n-t, hint.  It’s your turn now. Let’s see if you can spell these words that have /i/ in them.  Use your letters and letterboxes to spell these words: 2:[it], 3: [tin, fix, zip, kid], 4: [hint, drip, fast, went].  (Tell the students how many boxes they will need to use for each set of words.) Do your best to spell them.  When you are finished, raise your hand and I will come check your work.” 
  4. Next, I will spell the words for the students on the chalk board and have the students read the words together for assessment and understanding.
  5. Hand out a copy of the book Tin Man Fix-It to each student. “The book that we are going to read today is called Tin Man Fix-It. In this book the tin man’s name is Tim and his friend Jim is the fix-it man. There is a big kid named Sid who is riding around on his skate board. Before he realizes it he has knocked Tim the tin man over. You will have to read this book to find out what happens to the tin man.” At this time the students will read the book to a partner. The two students will switch off reading. One partner will read the book one time through and then the second partner will have a chance to read the book. Encourage the students to use the “Icky Sticky” hand gesture when they come across a word with the /i/ sound. Walk around and observe the students as they read to their partner.
  6. To assess the lesson, hand out a picture page with words that have the /i/ sound in them and some that do not. As a class, go over the words on each picture. Then have the students draw a line to the words that have the /i/ sound in them. Match the pictures with the words.   



Lincoln, Katie. “Icky Sticky” (Beginning Reading)   http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/lincolnbr.html  

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

Phonics Reader Short Vowel Tin Man Fix-It. (1990) Carson, CA (USA), St Albans, Herts. (UK): Educational Insights.

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