Sam the Snake: SSSsss

Emergent Literacy
Sarah Anne Wilkes


Before children learn to read, they need to succeed in letter recognition and phoneme awareness. Mastering these two allows children to succeed in reading. The children who have mastered letter recognition and phoneme awareness will remain ahead of other children throughout their school years in reading. The phoneme awareness we will learn is /s/ by picture and hand gesture.


Chart with "Sam the silly snake said he was sorry for putting salt in Sally's sandwich".
Construction snakes with words written on them: tell, seed, sight, moon
Construction snakes
Book: Sal Has a Pal, by Lada Kratky
Picture of a snake on the board        
Blank piece of paper
Primary paper with rooftop, fence, sidewalk, and ditch
Poster board for the snakes
Letter s written on the whiteboard
Worksheet with /s/ pictures



1. Learning what letters sound like will help you become a better reader. Today the letter we are going to learn is s =/s/.


2.  Have you ever heard a snake hiss? Letter s is for /s/, the snake sound. Lets pretend that we hear a snake and say /s/ like the snake is making a hissing noise (move your arm to pretend that your arm is a snake). You can hear a snake hiss when you walk up close to them, if you hear this sound you should go the other directions. Determined by the shape of snakes head they can be poisoning or non -poisoning.


3. Now we are going to say a tongue twister: "Sam the silly snake said he was sorry for putting salt in Sally's sandwich". Say it two more times, and while you say the tongue twister move your hand back and forth like a snake every time you hear the /s/ sound. This time stretch it: "sssam the sssilly sssnake sssaid he was sssorry for putting ssssalt in SSSally's sssandwich". This time try it with the /s/ broken off: "/s/am the /s/illy /s/nake /s/aid he wa/s/ /s/orry for putting /s/alt in /s/ally's /s/andwich".


4. Have students look at the letter s that is displayed on the whiteboard that I have written. Have students get out primary paper and pencil. We are going to write the letter s, which is used in spelling. For letter s, form a tiny c up in the air, and then swing back. After I have checked your s, write each letter five more times.



5. Let's see the /s/is in ask. "I'll know if I hear the /s/ because the tip of tongue touches above your top teeth. Then make a snake sound or top teeth. Know I am going to stretch the word to see if my mouth moves like that in a-a-s-s-s-k-k. There in the middle of the word my mouth moved like a /s/ sound. We do have /s/ in ask!"


6. Ask the students if you hear the /s/ sound in the different words. I will hand out a piece of paper for the students to answer the next few questions.  I will have the students listen to the words I say and if they hear the /s/ in first word they will draw a circle, if they hear the  /s/ in second word they will draw a square:         

        "listen or hear"           

"bread or toast"

 "bus or car"


7. I will have construction pieces cut out like snakes with different words on them: TELL, SEED, SIGHT, MOON. I will tell the students that I am going to say some words, and the first time I just want you to listen. The second time I say the group of words I want you to raise you hand for the word that is written on the snake. Place each snake on a poster board.

         Is this "sell or tell"                  TELL

         Is this "seed or feed"              SEED

         Is this "night or sight"             SIGHT

         Is this "moon or soon"             MOON


8. Tell the students that we are going to read  Sal Has a Pal. First, I will do a book talk. "Sal is a dog with a friend. Who do you think his friend is? What will Sal and his pal do?" Tell the students to use their hand gesture when they hear the /s/ sound in the book.



            The students will be give a cut out snake for them to write a word with the /s/ sound. This can be invented spelling. After the students have written a word they will place it on a poster with glue. Students will be given a worksheet with different pictures on it. They are to color the pictures that have the /s/ sound.

  Harrington,Megan: P is for Popcorn

2. Scyphers, Sharon: Sssssillly Sssssnake!

3.    Murray, Bruce: Mouth Moves and Gestures for Phonemes

4.   Murray, Bruce: Teaching Letter Recognition

5. Return to Voyages home page