Slippery Sammy the Seal

 Emergent Literacy

Elizabeth Anne Odom


Rationale: Children have to first understand letters stand for phonemes before they learn how to read and spell.  They must have an understanding of relationship between sounds and the letters that go with those sounds before truly being able to read. Children who learn to read and spell words need to understand that letters stand for a phoneme and map out a spelling of a spoken word.  Consonants are the easiest part of a word for a child to hear.  In this lesson, children will be able to identify /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation, a letter symbol, and practice recognizing words that begin with and contain /s/. The recognition of those sounds and letters is the map for their beginning success in reading.  The students will learn the relationship between “s” and the sound that “s” makes in this lesson. They will gain understanding of the relationship and will be able to recognize the /s/ phoneme in spoken words.

Materials: Primary Paper, Pencils, Card with “s” on it, Pictures of things that start with “s” (snail, snake),Pictures of things that do not start with “s” (elephant, giraffe), a chant that uses alliteration to emphasize the “s” sound, Book Silly Sally  by Audrey Wood.


 1. Introduce the /s/ sound to the students. "Watch me when I say the /s/ sound. sssssss. Now I want you to try it." (Demonstrate the sound and the mouth moves and have them do it together.) Show them the “s” card and have them continue to make the sound. Then bring out the pictures of the snail, snake, elephant, and the giraffe.  Hold up each picture and ask, "Does this start with an /s/? "

 2. Does anyone know what a seal says?  Yes, that’s right.  "A seal says /s/." This is the mouth move that we are going to practice together several times.  Let’s all sound like slippery seals and say /s/. "sssssss." Great you are all doing very good!

 3. Let’s do a chant together that is called a tongue twister.  First read the chant to them “Slippery Sammy the seal slipped slowly into the slimy salty sea” Now let’s say it all together.  Great, you’re doing so well!  Now let’s say it again and really stretch out the /s/ sound.  S-s-slippery S-s-sammy the s-s-seal s-s-slipped s-s-slowly into the s-s-slimy s-s-salty s-s-sea. One more time and this time we are going to say the /s/ by itself then the other part of the word. /s/ lippery /s/ ammy the /s/ eal /s/ lowly /s/ lipped into the  /s/ limy /s/ alty /s/ ea.

4. Now have students use their primary writing paper and pencils to practice writing the letter s. First model for them how to write the letter then have them write it with you.  Let’s all do this together. Begin by writing a little c, then curve up to the fence and go back toward the sidewalk.  Now pay close attention, half between the fence and sidewalk curve in the opposite direction touch the sidewalk and take a step towards the fence.  I want everyone to work hard so that I can see everyone’s “s’s”.  Continue practicing the letter s by writing several “s’s” on two rows of your paper.  Now you have learned how to write the letter “s”.

 5.  Assess the students progress as a whole at random by asking them the following questions? Do you here /s/ in sink or tank? Bank or sock? Slip or fake? Sun or man? Good! 

6. I will first do book talk with the students about the book Silly Sally. "Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards upside down, on the way she met a pig, a silly pig, they danced a jig. Silly Sally and the pig are later joined by a dog, a bird, and a sheep. Do you think that they will all walk upside down with Silly Sally? Let's read on to find out." I will then read the book to them.  Then reread it and have the students say /s/ every time they hear the letter s. Then we will do an activity together to try and write a chant or some sort of alliteration together so that the children can practice using the letter s and /s/.

 7. For an overall assessment, I will have the children work on an activity sheet that tests their knowledge of the letter s and /s/ sound.  This sheet will be an overview of what we learned in this lesson.


The Reading Genie Website:,

Wood, Audrey.
Silly Sally. Red Wagon Book. 1999. 30 pgs

Bruce Murray: Information from class lectures

Click here to return to Perspectives.