Yummy “M”


Emergent Literacy
Allison Boutwell

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /m/, the phoneme represented by M.

Students will learn to recognize /m/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (rubbing their stomach) and the letter symbol M, practice finding /m/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /m/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


- Primary paper and pencils

- Tongue tickler written on chart paper: “On Mondays Michael's mother Mary mostly mopped."

- Drawing paper and crayons

- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Philomel Books, 1969)

- Word cards: MOP, MIX, FEET, FIND, MOUSE, and FAKE

- Assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /m/ (URL below)


1. Say: Our written language is like a secret code. The hard part is learning what letters stand for-- the way our mouth moves when we talk. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /m/. We spell /m/ with letter M. M says /m/ like the sound we make when something tastes good.

2. Let's pretend we just ate something really yummy, /m/, /m/, /m/. (Pantomime rubbing stomach). Notice what your lips are doing? (Touching lips). When we say /m/, we make a humming sound while our mouths are closed and our lips come together.

3. Let me show you how to find /m/ in the word cream, like in “ice cream."I'm going to stretch cream out in super slow motion and listen for the yummy m. Ccc-r-r-eam. Slower: Ccc-r-ea-mmm There it was! I felt my lips come together. I can feel the yummy /m/ in cream.

4. Let's try a tongue twister (on chart). “On Mondays Michael's mother Mary mostly mopped."Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /m/ at the beginning of the words. “On Mmmondays Mmmichael's mmmother Mmmary mmmostly mmmopped."Try it again, and this time, take it off the word: "On /m/ ondays /m/ ichael's /m/ other /m/ ary /m/ ostly /m/ ops.”

5. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil). We use letter M to spell /m/. Let's write the lowercase letter m. Start at the fence and draw a line down to the sidewalk, then trace back up to the fence. Before you get to the top, make a hump up to the fence and down to the sidewalk. Do this one more time and you have a little m. I want to see everybody's m. After I put a sticker on it, I want you to draw nine more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /m/ in mom or dad? Tuesday or Monday? Warm or cold? Milk or cereal? Cat or mouse? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /m/ in some words. Rub your belly if you hear /m/: Mommy made me eat my yummy M&M's.

7. Say: "Let's look the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Who has read this story before? This story is about a little caterpillar that is very hungry. He eats and eats until, at the end of the week, he turns into something beautiful. Let's read this story and find out what happens."Read page 3, drawing out /m/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /m/. Have the students draw and color a picture of a caterpillar in the shape of an M. Then have each student write a few sentences describing their caterpillar. Display their work.

8. Show MOP and model how to decide if it is mop or sop: The M tells me to rub my belly, /m/, so this word is mmm-op, mop. You try some: MIX: mix or fix? FEET: meet or feet? FIND: mind or find? MOUSE: house or mouse? FAKE: fake or make?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with M. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.


References: Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case for teaching recognition of phoneme identity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 805-812.l

Murray, Bruce. Toothbrush Design. URL: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html  

Assessment worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/m-begins2.htm

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