Ta-Ta-Tennis Ball  

Emergent Literacy
Brittney McKissick


When students are learning to read, it is important for them to be able to recognize letters.  Letters represent phonemes in spoken words, and students need to recognize the letters and their corresponding phonemes to make sense of the written code, that we call words.  In order for students to become fluent readers, they need to be able to recognize letters and have phoneme awareness.  This lesson will teach students to recognize T and t in written words and the phoneme /t/ in spoken words.  The students will figure out what their mouth does as they make the tennis ball /t/ sound.  Also, children will learn to write both T and t.


Materials Needed:
1)  White board and markers
2)  Primary Paper
3)  1 tennis ball- so you can show the students what a tennis ball sounds like when it hits the ground.  This helps them have a more concrete sound in their head.
4)  Middleton, Charlotte.  Tabitha's Terrifically Tough Tooth.  New York:  Phyllis Fogelman Books, c. 2001. 
5)  An assessment worksheet for all of your students  (there is a link below)



1)  Write T on the white board.  "This is the letter T.  This is a capital t or big t.  T=/t/."  Write t on the white board.  "This is also the letter t.  This is lowercase or little t.  Capital T and lowercase t both say /t/." 


2)  Go over the sound that t makes again.  "The sound capital T and lowercase t makes is /t/, just like the sound in tennis ball.  How many of you like to bounce tennis balls?  I do too!  Let us bounce our imaginary tennis balls every time you hear the /t/ sound." 


3)  Ask the students what their mouth is doing as they make the tennis ball /t/ sound.  Your tongue touches the back of your teeth, and you blow a little air out of your mouth.  That's right! 


4)  Say the tongue twister and have the children repeat it.  Tell them to stretch the t with you and bounce their tennis balls.  "T-T-Tommy t-t-takes T-T-Tim t-t-to t-t-town.  Stretch out the /t/ sound."  Repeat.  The teacher needs to say the tongue twister once to model for the students, and the students should repeat it three times. 


5)  Give the children some words and ask them which word has the /t/ sound.

Take or send?  

Soft or hard?

Board or table?

Chair or stool?


6)  "I will say some words.  If you hear the tennis ball /t/ sound, bounce your imaginary tennis ball." 











7)  On the white board, model for the students how to write T and t.  After the students watch you model once, get them to follow along with you on their primary paper.  "When making a capital T, start at the rooftop and go straight down to the sidewalk.  Make the hat for the T by going straight along the rooftop."  Get the students to continue practicing writing T's on their paper as you model it 3 more times.  Then model t by saying, "When making a lowercase t, start at the rooftop and go straight down to the sidewalk.  Cross the little t by drawing a line across the fence."  Get the students to continue practicing writing t's on their paper as you model it 3 more times.  "Please write 10 more big T's and ten more little t's on your paper by yourself."


8)  Read the book Tabitha's Terrifically Tough Tooth.  Give a brief book talk before reading the book.  "Tabitha woke up one morning and ate an apple for breakfast.  When she took a bite of the apple, she realized she had a wobbly tooth.  Her dad told her that if she puts the tooth under her pillow, the tooth fairy will bring her some money.  She tried all day to get the tooth out of her mouth.  She tried to dance, but it just made her hot and tired.  She tied one end of  a string around her tooth, and the other end around a tortoise.  The tortoise took two steps and fell asleep.  Will Tabitha ever find a way to get the tooth out of her mouth, so she will be able to get a visit from the tooth fairy?  In order to find out, we will have to read Tabitha's Terrifically Tough Tooth.  I want you to drop your imaginary tennis ball every time you hear /t/ throughout the story."  The teacher should stop before t words and stretch out the /t/ sound to make sure the students hear it.  Also, the teacher should talk about the story before turning the page.  This helps the students with comprehension.


9)  The last component of this lesson is an assessment worksheet. The students will help the turtles find the other pictures that begin with /t/.  The other pictures are:  tooth, two, lion, five, and tomato. 

Christine MacPherson.  "Buttery Baked Biscuits."

KidZone Kindergarten.  Beginning Consonants Worksheets.  (handout)

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