Learning with Loopy Letters

Emergent Literacy
Allison Sanders


Rationale: To read and spell words, children need to be able to distinguish the letters of the alphabet.  Before children can learn to read full sentences, they have to have knowledge on the alphabet and differentiate what each letter is.  The letters p and q are easy to get mixed up for the younger children even though they have completely different sounds.  The letters look the same but because they are going opposite ways, children easily get them confused when they are learning the alphabet and how to read it.  This lesson will help children to identify the letters and sounds of p and q and distinguish between the two.  They will then practice with the letters to really get them thinking and motivated.


Materials: story book, popsicle sticks, red construction paper with the word STOP on it, black sharpie, and dry erase board.


Procedures: 1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that the letters p and q are tricky because they look the same, they are just facing opposite directions.  We will then go over what each sound makes and I will show them some examples on our dry erase board.  I will write words such as plum and quilt to show how different the letters are. 


2. Ask students: Did you hear the p sound in plum? Did you hear the q sound in quilt? There is a difference between the letters and we will also practice these throughout the story.  Let’s practice the loopy letters of p and q by making the sounds from practice and quiet.


3. Let’s now try a tongue twister [on dry erase board].  “Patty practiced piano on her back patio.”  Now let’s say this three times together and really stretch out the p sound.  “PPPatty pppracticed pppiano on her back pppatio.”  The next tongue twister is “Quacking ducks quack all day on the quilt.”  Now let’s say this three times together and really stretch out the q sound.  “QQQuacking ducks qqquack all day on the qqquilt.”


4. [Have students pull out their stop signs on the popsicle sticks].  We will now read the story The Quiet Quail  by Heather Feldman.  As I read the story, the students will listen out for words containing q and p and as they hear the sound, they will hold up their stop signs and we will go over that particular word as a class.


5. Let me show you how to find the sound in quail.  I am going to stretch out quail in slow motion and I want you to hold up your stop signs when you hear it.  Then I want to show you how to find the sound in pale, like a pale that you take to the beach.  I am going to stretch out pale and in slow motion and I want you to hold up your stop sign when you hear it.


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew.  Do you hear p in pear or carrot? Do you hear q in quickly or slowly? Pineapple or beans? Quiet or loud?


7. Say: “Jack is a quick learner.”  Do you hear the p sound or q sound in quick? Marsha likes to play outside.”  Do you hear the p sound or q sound in play? I will read them again and as I say the key word, a student will raise their hand and write the letter they hear on the dry erase board.  This will be a great review and practice for them.


8. For assessment, distribute a copied page from the story, and they will circle the words that have the letters p and q.


Reference: Fry, E. B., Kress, J. E., & Fountoukidis, D. L. (1993). The reading teachers' book of lists (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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