Nifty Noisy N

Laura Charlton

Emergent Literacy

Rationale: The two best predictors of emergent readers’ future success in reading are phonemic awareness and letter name knowledge. Because N has a sustained sound it is one of first letters a teacher should teach. The goal of this lesson is for students to learn that n stands for /n/ in speech and in print.  The students will also be able to give a signal when they hear /n/ in speech.

Materials: Tongue twister: “Nosy Nelly needs new notes now”, primary paper, pencil,

1. I will explain that each letter has a unique sound.
2. “We are going to talk about the letter n.  The letter n kind of looks like switching gears in a car because you move your pencil up, back, and up again.  It also makes the sound of car accelerating.  Do you know what sound a car makes? Good, you make that sound by placing your tongue at the roof of your mouth and leaving your mouth a little bit open.  Can you find a n in night? Nnnnight, nnnight. Good we heard it.  Now whenever you see an n, you’ll know it makes the /n/ sound.”

3. “Now lets try saying a tongue twister. Nosy Nelly needs new notes now. Can you say that three times in a row? Now lets all say it together and stretch out the /n/ at the beginning of each word. NNNosy NNNelly nnneeds nnnew nnnotes nnnow. Now lets try it again and break n off of the word. /N/ osy /N/ elly /n/ eeds /n/ ew /n/ otes /n/ ow.”

4. “Now I would like everyone to take out their primary paper and a pencil. Let’s practice writing the letter N. To write the uppercase letter N begin by placing your pencil at the ditch line, go straight up to the roof, slant back to the ditch, and then go back to the roof. To make a lowercase letter n begin by placing your pencil at the fence line, go straight down to the ditch, curve back up to the fence and then curve back down to the ditch. Now let’s practice by writing nine each kind of N. Circle your best one out of each type.”
5. “Now I’m going to show you how to find the /n/ sound in a word. When I stretch out the word necklace I want you to watch my mouth and listen for the car sound. Nnn (do you hear it) ecklace. Did you hear it? It was at the beginning of the word. Let’s try another word. Lannntern. Do you hear the Nnn in the middle of the word lantern?”

6. “Now I’m going to tell a list of words and I want you to make the motion for driving a car when you hear /n/ in any of the following words:
Cat or Napkin, Mouse or Necessary, Nervous or Fantastic”

7. “Now I am going to read you a story. I want you to listen closely and make the motion for driving a car every time you hear the /n/ sound.”

For the assessment I will pass out a worksheet that has pictures of words that do and do not begin with the /n/ sound. The students will circle the pictures of the words that begin with /n/. The shows that students can understand and recognize /n/.


Adams, Marilyn. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Illinois, Center for the Study of Reading (1990).

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