Nobody Can Beat N

Emergent Literacy Design

picture of car

Julie Mason



Emergent readers must be familiar with phonemes before they can begin using the alphabetic code. This lesson will focus on the consonant sound /n/ and helping children identify it. Students will be able to identify /n/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (driving a racecar). They will also learn the letter symbol n and will apply phonemic awareness with /n/ in texts read aloud as well as phonetic cue reading.



For Teacher:

Picture of racecar (attached)

Chart paper


Story (provided below) written on chart paper or a storybook with many words containing the /n/ sound

Word cards with NEED, ROSE, WET, NEST, NAP, GAME

For Students:

Primary paper


Worksheet (link in reference section)




  1. We make lots of different movements with our mouths when we talk. Pay attention to my mouth when I talk and see all the different ways it moves. Now I want everyone to say, "My mouth moves a lot" and pay attention to the way your mouth moves. Ready? My mouth moves a lot.
  2. Today we are going to talk about the way our mouth moves when we say the letter N. We need to know the sound it makes so we can use it when we spell and read. Everyone say /n/. How does your mouth feel? Do you feel a tickle in your nose? Say it again. /n/.
  3. Who can tell me where N is in the alphabet? That's right between M and O. This is what the letter N looks like. (Draw n on chart paper) What does the letter N sound like? To me it sounds like a racecar! Have you ever seen a racecar before? They sound like nnnnnnn. Everyone drive a racecar and say nnnnnnn (hold hands up like steering a car). Wow, great racing!
  4. The racecar sound is in a lot of words and we're going to be sound detectives and try to find it. Let's see if we can find /n/ in the word "ant." Okay stretch it out really slow and listen for the racecar. Aaaa-nnnnn-tttt. There it was in the middle! Did you hear the racecar? Aaaa-nnnnn-tttt.
  5. Let's try this tongue twister: Naughty Nick was nasty to Nancy's pet newt. Okay now say it with me. (Repeat tongue twister) Great job! Now this time stretch out the /n/ and drive your racecar. Nnnnnaughty Nnnnnick was nnnnnasty to Nnnnnannnncy's pet nnnnnewt. Awesome!
  6. Let's practice! (Call on students to answer) Do you hear /n/ in yes or no? up or down? Lost or found? Green or blue? Snack or treat? How can you tell? We can hear the racecar right?
  7. Now we're going to read a story about Nancy. She has a problem because she is missing her lunch box! She is so hungry and she doesn't know what she is going to do. We are going to read this story to find out, but while I'm reading listen for the racecar and when you hear the /n/ sound show me how you can drive your racecar. Everyone listen for the racecar. (Read story from chart paper or other storybook. If using other storybook, replace with appropriate book talk.)


Little Nancy was very sad.

She lost her lunch box.

Nancy needed her lunch to eat.

We wanted to help.

Nick gave her his sandwich.

Lucy gave Nancy her napkin.

Marie let Nancy have some nuts.

How nice of them to share!

Nancy is not hungry today!

  1. Now we are going to practice writing the letter N. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil.) This is what big N looks like (draw on chart paper). We are going to practice drawing little N today. First, you start at the fence, go down to the sidewalk, go back up and hump over back down to the sidewalk. So remember, start at the fence, go down, back up, hump over and back down. Now you try! I will come by to check and I want you to make ten little Ns.
  2. Using the "NEED" word card ask the students if it says need or feed. How did you know? Because it makes the racecar sound /n/ and there is the N. Call students over individually for phonetic cue reading. NEED need or feed? ROSE nose or rose? WET net or wet? NEST nest or best? NAP nap or cap? GAME name or game?
  3. For further assessment, have students complete the worksheet. They complete the partial spellings and color the words that begin with /n/.



Leigh Morgan. Emergent Literacy Lesson: "Vacuum that Rug!"

Bruce Murray. Emergent Literacy Lesson: "Brush your Teeth with F"


Assessment worksheet:

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