/i/ Icky Sticky Fingers

Beginning Reading

Emily Mills


Studies show that explicit phonics—in which teachers pronounce phonemes in isolation to model how to sound out and blend—is more effective than analytic phonic in leading children to early reading practice. Research has also shown that the use of decodable texts promotes a decoding strategy in beginning readers despite being somewhat restricted in their literature value. Learning vowel correspondences is particularly helpful for beginning readers.

During this lesson, students will learn how to spell, blend, and decode the new vowel correspondence, i=/i/ by participating in a letterbox lesson and reading a decodable book.  Children can learn sight words after a few quality encounters of decoding a word, so students will go back and reread sentences where they have miscued on a word during this lesson.


1) Liz is Six. Educational Insights. 1990. (one copy per pair of students)
Icky Sticky short i phoneme picture  (off of the Reading Genie website)
3) Tongue twister projection (An ill Indian inside the igloo itched.)
4) List of letterbox words (3---[sit, wag, bill], 4---[skin, glass, spell, gift], 5---[twist, spent, drink])
5) large letterbox for teacher
6) letterboxes for each child
7) bag of letter manipulatives (a, b, d, e, f, g, i, I, k, l, l, n, p, r, s, s, t, w) for teacher and every child
8) Document camera
9) Extra decodable books limited to /a/, /e/, and /i/ correspondences (from a class set of Educational Insights Phonics Readers)
10) i=/i/ pseudoword cards (dit, mip, sig, zick, piff, yink)


1. Introduce the lesson by reminding students that, "our written language is like a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for--the mouth moves we make as we say words." (Project the icky sticky phoneme picture up on the board). Today, we're going to learn what I tells us to say when it's all by itself.

2. have you ever accidentally got goopy glue or jelly on your hands? It feels icky, right? Your hands are one big icky sticky mess and you might say, /iiii/. Well, the letter i tells us to say /i/ when its all by itself in a word. Whenever you see I by itself in a word, say /iii/ and spread your fingers out like this (model motion) just like you have icky sticky fingers.  Let's practice saying /i/ while we do spread our icky sticky fingers. /iiii/. Good job! Do you hear /i/ in him or her? Do you hear /i/ in sick or well? Bit or piece?

3. Good job. Now, let's try a tongue twister. [Project it unto the board.] I'll read it first, then everyone can join in the second time. As you read that icky sticky sound, spread your sticky fingers.  "An ill Indian inside the igloo itched."  (Point to the each letter I as it is stretched out). Okay, now let's say it together, "An iiill IIIndian IIIInside the iiigloo iiitched." Let's read it together one last time. Ready, go.

4. Tell students, "Let me show you how to spell the word brick using my letters and letterbox. I need four boxes for this word. Hmm, let me stretch it out and see if I hear any letter sounds in that word.... brick. Brrriiickkk. Briiiiiickk.  I'm going to try  to stretch out each sound I hear. /b/-/rrrr/, /iiii/, /k/.  Ah! /b/.  I'll put that in my first letterbox. Brrriiiiickkk.  Hmm, I hear that growling dog, /r/ in brick. That means I need an r. (Teacher puts r in second box). I also heard that icky sticky sound in brick. Let me try it again just to be sure. /b/ /rrr/  /iiiiiiiiii/  /k/. Yep, there's that /i/ sound! That means I is all by himself. (Places I in third letterbox). I also heard /k/ at the end of brick. Hmm… /k/ could be k, but I remember that c and k can work together when they're right beside each other to make the /k/ sound, too.  I think I'll put ck down for /k/. (Places the diagraph ck down in the forth box).

5. Distribute the materials for the letterbox lesson to each child. Tell children how many boxes to use, then call out one word at a time. The teacher will walk around the room, monitoring student progress and providing guided assistance for any student who needs help. If a child misspells a word, the teacher will read the word as it is spelled. (Example, "That says, scan; we're spelling skin." Once every student has had time to spell the word, the teacher will move on the next word on the list. List of letterbox words: 3--[sit, wag, bill], 4— [skin, glass, spell, gift], 5— [twist, spent, drink].

6. After the letterbox lesson, put the list of letterbox words unto the board. The teacher will model how to read the word twist aloud. Let me show you how I would read this word (point to twist).  Oh there's that icky, sticky letter I all by itself it says /i/!     /t/…/t/ -/w/…./tw/…/tw/-/iiiii/, /twi/…/twi/-/s/…/twis/…/twis/-/t/…Oh! Twist! After the teacher models how to read the new correspondence, the class will read the list of words aloud together, one word at a time. The teacher may ask for volunteers to try to decode a word individually in front of the class as well.

7. After the word list is read, show students Liz is Six and say: "Liz is a little girl who is having a birthday party. Someone gave her a baseball mitt for a present, so he decided to play a game of ball with a friend. But her friend is a pig! How in the world will her pig friend ever catch the ball? Who is going to win the game? You'll have to read to find out!" Pass out Liz is Six books to pairs of reading students. Tell students that they are reading buddies. One buddy will read the first page, the next will read the second, the other will read the third, so on and so forth. They are to take turns reading the book to each other. If they aren't reading, then they should be good listeners and talk about the story after their partner is finished. After the book is read through once, students will reread it, this time switching out turns—the partner who read the first page will now go second. Students will be asked to pretend they went to the party as they are rereading the book and talking before they turn.

8. Students will be free to choose a decodable book (with short a, e, or I correspondences) out of the class library. (Books will be sorted into bins, and children will know which bins they may select from.) Students will whisper-read this familiar book individually.

9. While students are reading their self-selected decodable books, the teacher go around and assess individual students on their ability to decode the i =/i/ pseudowords. (dit, mip, sig, zick, piff, yink).



Angela Simpson. Yuck, It's Icky Sticky. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/encounters/simpsonbr.html

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