Hamilton the Panting Hound Dog


Emergent Literacy


Leah Impastato


Rationale: Before children learn to read they need to have well developed phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify a vocal gesture found in spoken words. Developing Phonemic awareness begins by studying and recognizing individual phonemes. In this lesson, children will learn to identify the phoneme /h/ by repeating a /h/ filled tongue tickler, detecting /h/ in spoken words, writing the grapheme for /h/ and playing a detective game to apply their new knowledge.



-Tongue tickler written on board or chart paper: "Hamilton hopes we can help him find the hidden clues."

-A Poster/picture of Hamilton the hound dog on the board


-Primary paper


-Letter from Hamilton:

Hello students,

My name is Hamilton the hound dog. I need you to help me find some clues and solve a mystery. I need help looking for things that start with the sound /h/. Your teacher will teach you how to find the clues but finding the secret objects is up to you. Will you help me?

                                                                                                -Detective Hamilton H.D.

-Magnifying glasses


- A variety of objects that start with the phoneme /h/ placed around the room ex: a hat, heart, helmet, horn, handkerchief, headband, toy hammer, headphones, toy hamburger, harmonica, hula-hoop.

- "What Begins with H" worksheet


-Book: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?



1. Open the lesson by telling students that you have received a letter from Hamilton the hound dog asking for help. Read the letter to students. "We have received a letter from our friend Hamilton the hound dog (show students the picture/poster of Hamilton)."

-Hamilton's Letter: "Hello students. My name is Hamilton the hound dog. I need you to help me find some clues and solve a mystery. I need help looking for things that start with the sound /h/. Your teacher will teach you how to find the clues but finding the secret objects is up to you. Will you help me? signed Detective Hamilton H.D."

-"So, will you help Hamilton and become /h/ sound detectives?"


2. Tell students that they are detectives for the sound /h/ and that "Hamilton always gets so excited when he finds a clue with the sound /h/ that he starts panting". Demonstrate Hamilton's panting (hhh...hhh...hhh). Tell students that "As detectives you too will know if you have found a word that has /h/ in it because your mouth will make a panting sound just like Hamilton's." Ask students to practice panting using the phoneme /h/. "Try making the /h/sound while panting like Hamilton." Now tell students, "Before starting our hunt for the special sound /h/, we are going to make some notes and study some important information just like real detectives do".


3. Introduce students to the tongue tickler (Hamilton hopes we can help him find the hidden clues) written on the board or paper. Read it aloud and then have everyone say it together. After the students have repeated the phrase ask them "Where did you pant", and direct them further by saying "Let's say the tongue twister one last time and stretch out the /h/ sound by pausing, panting and sticking out our tongue each /h/ we come across."


4. After going over the tongue tickler, pass out primary paper and pencils. Tell students "There is another way other than panting that will help us find the sound /h/, and that it is the letter h." Instruct students on how to write the letter h -"make a straight line starting at the rooftop and going down until it touches the sidewalk and then hops up to touch the fence and lands back on the sidewalk". Tell students to practice writing five h's and say "I will be walking around to check your letters".


5. After walking around and checking to make sure that each student has written their h's, continue the lesson by saying: "Another tip I am going to show you before your hunt is how to find the sound /h/ in a word. Let's look at the word hide. First, you need to say the word slowly, and listen for Hamilton panting. Hhhhhhiiiidde. Hmmmm... I could hear Hamilton panting at the beginning of the word, so we know that hide has the sound /h/ in it".


6. Next, ask students to identify which words in a list of twelve begin with the sound /h/. "Now I need each of you to get your magnifying glasses ready. I am going to read a list of words and I want each of you to raise your magnifying glass when you hear the sound /h/ and pant like Hamilton finding a clue". Read the words: hair, glass, horn, tree, have, bark, door, house, pot, hill, trap, ham.


7. Move on to reading the book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. . Give book talk: "This is a book about an adventure in the zoo, and all the different animal sounds that the animals make. Which animals will we get to hear? What animals are at the zoo? Do you think that all of the animals will get along, or will one animal hear another and get hungry? We will have to read to find out".  "As we read Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  I want you to pant when you hear any word starting with the phoneme /h/." (Read book) "Alright nice job, I think you are done training and ready for the hunt!"


8. Divide students into pairs and have them go around the room practicing their detective work. Say, "Students, I need you to find a partner at your table to go on a hunt for /h/ objects". Give a clipboard with a blank piece of paper on it to each child, and remind them that they can use their magnifying glasses if they would like. "I want you and your partner to go around the room and look for objects that begin with the sound /h/". Have students use inventive spelling or pictures to keep track of the objects they find. "You and your partner need to write down or draw the objects that you find that start with /h/, and after you have finished you will share the clues that you find." After eight to ten minutes of hunting have students come to the classroom rug and sit down to share.


9. Have each child share one object that they found and use Hamilton's panting to say the object's name. "Ok, now that the search is over I need each of you to share a /h/ object that you found. Remember to pant like Hamilton when you share your word. It is ok if someone else has already said the object you found, but let's try to name all the objects before repeating any."


10. Go around the circle asking each child to orally present a clue that they find during the hunt. Check to make sure that their object begins with the phoneme /h/ and that they correctly articulate the sound /h/ through panting.


11.  Have students return to their desks and distribute the "What Begins with H" worksheet. For their formal assessment, students will complete the spellings and color the pictures that begin with h.







Bruce Murray.  Emergent Literacy Lesson. "Brush Your Teeth with F". http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html


Book: Martin, Bill Jr. . Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? Illus. Eric Carle. Henry Holt and Company. New York 2004.


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