Don't Slither in Your Seat, Listen to This Sizzling Lesson!

Caroline Peek
Emergent Literacy

Emergent Literacy Design: Don't Slither in Your Seat, Listen to This Sizzling Lesson!

Rationale: In order for children to fluently spell and read words, it is vital that they have an understanding of the phonemes that letters stand for. Furthermore, they must also be able to cognitively reason how spellings dictate phonemes in oral language. This lesson will introduce and expose the learner(s) to a phoneme in spoken context. It is important to first introduce the phoneme orally, because research indicates that before children can match phonemes to letters, they must understand it in spoken context. This lesson will help children to identify the grapheme /s/. It makes a common sound, but it can be written in different ways. Oftentimes, you will see it in words as a digraph like "cy" or "ci."They will learn how to recognize it in spoken words by learning a gesture that they will make each time they hear the phoneme. Also, they will have practice with identifying the phoneme in a series of words.

Materials: Primary paper, pencil, a poster with the following example sentences: A) Snakes slither through slimy streets in the city. B) Susan saw Sam riding his silver bicycle slowly down the sidewalk. Five different picture pages: a picture of a sizzling frying pan, a can of hairspray with it squirting out, a picture of a hissing snake, a picture of a city, and a picture of a bicycle. Also, instructor will need a copy of the decodable book, Sam and the Sap.


1. Introduce the lesson by telling the student(s) that we are going to be talking about the grapheme "S." It can be spelled a variety of ways, "cy" and "ci," but each spelling makes a common sound. We are going to listen for the "sssss" sound in sentences and spoken words today. To help us recognize when we hear this phoneme, we are going to make a slithering gesture (I will demonstrate it) each time we hear it. As we conclude our lesson, each of you will be able to recognize the phoneme in spoken words, and relate the digraph spellings to the common sound.

2. Ask the students: Have you ever heard the sizzling sound on top of your mother's stove? Have you ever heard a snake hiss at the zoo? Have you ever splashed and romped in city puddles? I bet you have all ridden a bicycle! Several of the words I just used have the phoneme that we are listening for today in them. Did you recognize any? If so, what were they?

3. Let's practice a tongue twister! (I will place the poster with the first sentence in clear sight). Alright, we are going to listen for our phoneme, /s/, and every time we hear it, we will make a slithering gesture. (demonstrate). Alright, here we go….

a. Snakes slither through slimy streets in the city.

b. Susan saw Sam riding his silver bicycle down the sidewalk.

Great job!!

4. Now, let's read the second sentence again and break the phoneme off of the word.

/S/ usan /s/ aw /S/am riding his /s/ ilver bi /cy/ cle /s/ lowly down the /s/ idewalk.

Way to go!

5. <Have students take out a piece of primary paper and a pencil> "We can write our phoneme in a few different ways. Let's practice together. First, /s/ can be written as a grapheme, "s". Let's practice writing an "s." Start at the rooftop, curve down to the fence, and make one final curve to the sidewalk. Make sure not to go in the ditch!"

6. I will introduce and go over each picture that represents our phoneme.

7. Then I will call on students to answer the following questions:

Do you hear /s/ in..

-Sick or tick?

-Slice or bike?

-Slip or pup?

-Bicycle or bike?

-City or pity?

8. Give the students a brief overview of Sam and the Sap with a captivating book introduction, and then read it aloud.  "Sam and the Sap is about a boy, his dogs, and some stick sap!  What do you think will happen? Will Sam get  sap stuck all over him? If so,  will he be able to get it all off? You will have to read  Sam and the Sap  to find out!"

9. For assessment, each student will write a sentence on their primary paper that uses two of the three graphemes/digraphs. Also, each picture page will be randomly distributed and the student will name the grapheme/digraph and demonstrate the sound that the picture represents.

RESOURCES: This address takes you to a page with several ideas to help students recognize phoneme identities:

This next address takes you to a page with several helpful tips for tutors and/or teachers:

This address takes you to a page where you can download the decodable book Sam and the Sap.

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