The Race to Catch Letter R!

Emergent Literacy

Blair Smith


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify the phoneme, /r/, which is represented by the letter R. Students will accomplish this goal of learning to recognize /r/ in spoken words by learning to use racing cars as a representation of what the written R sounds like. They will also practice identifying /r/ in words and be able to write words with the letter R.


- 1 sheet of primary paper per child

- 1 pencil per child

-crayons for each child

-Notecards with words- : rub, rake, sack, rip, rug, map

-Picture of a racecar

-assessment worksheet

-The Rainbow Fish book

-chart paper with tongue tickler



1.     Say: Every sound you make has a special mouth move that goes along with it! Today we are going to learn what sound the letter R makes and what your mouth does when you say it. First, let's listen so we can hear the sound the letter R makes. R makes the /r/ sound. R looks like arms holding up the letter D, and makes the sound like a racecar!

2.     Say:  Let's pretend do drive our racecar, /r/, /r/, /r/. [Pretend to drive a car while saying /r/]. Notice where your tongue is? As we make the sound /r/  the sides of our tongue race to the top of our mouth, and our mouth makes an O shape.

3.     Say: Let me show you how to find /r/ in the word: drive. I'm going to stretch car out in slow motion and listen for my racecar! D-rr-ii-vvve. Slower: Dd-rrr- There it is! I felt the sides of my tongue race to the top of my mouth! I heard my racecar in the word drive.

4.     Say: Let's try a tongue tickler (from the chart paper, teacher points to each word as it is read).  Rabbits run right near the green car. Now, say it with me and act like you're driving your racecar every time you hear the /r/ sound. Rabbits run right near the green car [teacher puts hands up and drives the racecar at the /r/ sounds]. Let's stretch the /r/ sounds out now. RRRabbits RRRun RRRight neaRRR the gRRReen caRRR. Now, let's break the /r/ sounds off the rest of the word, like this. /R/abbits /R/-un /R/-ight nea-/R/ the g-/R/-een ca-/R/.  Can everyone hear their racecar driving through those words?

5.     [Have students take out primary paper and pencil] Say: We use the letter R to spell the sound /r/. Capital R looks like a P with a seatbelt on. Draw the letter P, starting at the roof then making a half circle or half steering wheel in between the room and the fence, then add the seatbelt from the fence near the P to the sidewalk. Ask them to draw one on their paper. Lower case letter r looks like an I got run over by our racecar! Ask them to draw one on their paper. After I put a sticker, on your paper, I want you to keep practicing writing R.

6.     Say: Now, I want to see if you can pick out the words with the /r/ sound. Whenever you hear the /r/ sound in these words I want you to move your hands like you're driving your racecar. Walk or run? Red or blue?  (Call on some students to ask how they knew). What about cat? Bird? Dog? Rat?

7.     Say: Now, we're going to look at some words. We're going to figure out what they say. Remember, if you see an R in the word, it has the /r/ sound. Drive your racecar when your hear /r/ in a word.  (Teacher shows cards as questions are asked). Is this word RUB or TUB? Do you see the R? That means it's RUB. Let's try some more:  RAKE- rake or make? SACK- rack or sack? RIP- tip or rip? RUG- rug or bug? MAP- rap or map?

8.     Say: Let's look at our book, The Rainbow Fish. In this book the rainbow fish has beautiful shiny scales. But even though he has so many scales, he does not want to share his scales with any other fish, which causes him to have no friends. How do you think he will become friends with the other fish? You'll have to listen carefully to find out! Also, listen carefully for the /r/ sound while we read! When you hear it, I want you to act like you're driving your racecar. Remember, the letter R says /r/.

9.     Assessment: Hand out one worksheet to each student for students to color the words that begin with the letter and sound R/r/.




Worksheet from


Book: Pfister, Marcus. The Rainbow Fish. North- South Books. 1992. 32 pages.


Lesson: Manifould, Madeline:" Dribbling the basketball with D"

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