Funny Furry Feet

Emergent Literacy

Emily Mills


 Phonemic awareness is a vital prerequisite to beginning reading. Children must learn that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words. Before children are ready to match letters to phonemes, they need to first develop and strengthen their ability to recognize phonemes in spoken words. Children should not be expected to learn all the phoneme identities at once, and it is helpful to spend time on individual phonemes. Voiced phonemes such as /m/, /s/, and /f/ are the easiest to stretch and pronounce by themselves; these phonemes provide a good starting point for teaching phonemic awareness.

 This lesson will help children identify the phoneme, /f/. Students will learn to recognize /f/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful hand gesture and the corresponding letter symbol. Students will practice finding /f/ in spoken words during a read aloud using a predictable book. Students will also practice identifying pictures of items whose names start with /f/.


Materials: 1)  Four Fur Feet.  Brown, Margaret Wise. Hyperion, 1996.  2) Picture Identification Worksheet (with pictures of the following words: fish, worm, flower, frog, snake, fly, foot, hand) 3) pencils (for each student)  4)Picture  of the grapheme f and a foot  5) Chart with a picture of furry feet underneath flowers with the alliteration, "Funny furry feet found flowers." 6) Primary paper (for each student) 7) Dry erase board (with primary guidelines)  8) Dry erase marker



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."  [Hold up the picture with the grapheme f and a foot.] Today, we're going to say and listen for the /f/ mouth move. When we see the letter F, we know to say /f/.

2. Has anyone ever seen an angry cat? When cats get angry, they say /f/. Let's pretend to be mad cats; everyone say /f/: /f/. When we say /f/ let's make a claw like an angry cat. When I count to three, let's sound like angry cats and say /f/ while we show our claws. One, two , three… ffffff. 

3. Good job. Now, let's try a tongue twister. [Hold up chart.] "Funny furry feet found flowers." Everyone say it three times together. Good, now let's say it again, but this time, I want you to stretch out the /f/ at the beginning of the words. Don't forget to make your claw! Ready? "Ffffunny fffurry fffeet fffound ffflowers."

4. [Pass out primary paper and have students get out their pencils]. The letter f spells the /f/ sound. Let's write the lowercase letter f.  [Model this for the students on dry erase board with primary guidelilnes]. First I'm going to start to make a little c up in the air. Then I straighten it out and go down to the sidewalk. Last, I'll cross at the fence. Now it's your turn. When I draw a star on your paper, I want you to make nine more just like it.  What does the letter f tell us to say when we see it in a word? That's right, it tells us to say /f/.

5. Now I'm going to show you for to find /f/ in the word elf. First I'm going to stretch out elf in super slow motion and listen for angry cat. E-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-f-f.   E-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l-f-f-f-f-f-f. There it is! I hear the angry cat /f/ in elf.

6. I'm going to ask you to listen for the /f/ sound. I'll say two words, and I want you to tell me which word has the angry cat in it. [Call on individual students to answer.] Do you hear /f/ in skinny or fat?  Tree or flower? Silly or funny?  Grass or leaf?  Now let's listen to some words. If you hear /f/ in them, then I want you to make a claw.  Read the following words aloud: laugh, smile, beef, friend, pal, fish, apple, fruit.

7. Show students Four Fur Feet and say: "One day, a mysterious animal with four fur paws decided to take a walk. He walked and walked and walked. As he walked around the whole world he saw wonderful things like trains, farms, and boats. Where do you think he is going? What do you think he will do when he gets there? Let's find out."  Read Four Fur Feet and talk about the story. Tell students that we're going to read the story again. This time have them raise their hands when they hear /f/ in words. After the reread, have children draw their version of the animal with four fur feet and use invented spelling to write about what the animal might do or where he might go next. Display children's creature messages on a bulletin board. 

8. For an assessment, pass out the picture identification worksheet. Help students name each picture on the sheet. Have students circle all the pictures whose names start with /f/.



Sarah Byrd. Five Fantastic Frogs.

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