Emergent Literacy: Take Time to Learn T

Lesson By: Caroline Duffy


Rationale: Before students can learn to read and write they need to have phoneme awareness.  In order for children to become phonemically aware they need to learn each of the phonemes one at a time.  This lesson will help students to learn and understand the phoneme /t/ and associate it with the letter T.  They will learn to recognize the phoneme with a memorable sound analogy (ticking of a clock).  Also, they will associate the phoneme with its symbol T through written practice and they will practice finding /t/ in groups of words.  Lastly, they will apply their phoneme awareness of /t/ through identifying pictures that begin with /t/.  The concept of this lesson is for students to recognize /t/ in spoken and written words and understand how /t/ makes the sound similar to the sound of a ticking clock.


Materials: primary paper, pencils, plain paper, clipboards, crayons, analog clock (if available), The Train Trip by Geri Murray, word note cards of TAKE, RAKE, TOAD, LOAD, BOOK, TOOK, PICK, TICK, assessment worksheet.



1.     Say: Language is like a code.  In order to know how to read and write we need to learn how the code works.  Each letter in our code has a special mouth movement that gives it a special sound.  Today, we will be working on the mouth movement /t/.  The sound /t/ makes is similar to the sound a ticking clock makes.

2.    Say: Have you ever heard a ticking clock before? If yes, say lets pretend we are ticking clocks, /t/ /t/ /t/ /t/.  If not, provide your own example of a ticking clock (analog clocks work the best).  After the demonstration of the noise is complete ask the question: Do you notice where your tongue is when you make the sound /t/?  When you make /t/ your tongue is touching your top teeth.  As you make the sound your mouth opens and your tongue moves down.  Now lets practice making the sound again while paying attention to your mouth movements, /t/ /t/ /t/ /t/.

3.    Say: Let me show you how to find /t/ in a word.  For example, let's say we have the word trick.  I am going to stretch out the sounds as I say the word so that I can look for my ticking clock sound, tt-rr-ii-cckk.  I will say it again, ttt-rrr-iii-ckck.  I felt my tongue touch my teeth at the beginning of the word.  /t/ is the first sound in trick.  Now, you try pronouncing each sound in trick.  Do you feel your tongue touch your top teeth when you say /t/? Do you recognize the ticking clock sound?

4.    Say: Now, I am going to read you a funny string of words, Tommy tricked Tim and took his train off the track.  Now everybody, lets say together what I just said five times in a row.  Nice try everybody! Now lets say it again but this time lets stretch out the /t/ at the beginning of each word.  Ttt-ommy ttt-ricked Ttt-im and ttt-ook his ttt-rain off the ttt-rack.  Did everyone hear /t/ that time?

5.    Say: Now that we have a better understanding of the /t/ sound lets see if we can pick out the words with /t/ in a pair of words.  If you know the answer raise your hand and I will call on you. Do you hear /t/ in work or take?  Do you hear /t/ in gift or hand?  Do you hear /t/ in store or soon?  Do you hear /t/ in moon or lift?  Do you hear /t/ in leg or boot?  Good job everyone!  Now I am going to read you a sentence.  If you hear /t/ in any word I want you to pretend you are a clock and tick like one, Tommy tickled Tim until he cried.

6.    Next, we will have the students practice writing the letter T.  Have the students take out primary paper, pencil, and clipboard (if necessary).  Say: When we hear /t/ in a word it is represented by the letter T.  To make a capital T you begin by drawing a straight line down beginning at the rooftop and ending at the sidewalk.  Next, you cross the first time at the rooftop. Now demonstrate drawing a capital T on primary paper.  Now, to make a lowercase t you begin by making a line straight down that begins halfway between the rooftop and fence and ends on the sidewalk.  Next, cross the line you just made by making a line on the fence. Then, demonstrate making a lowercase t on primary paper.  Now I would like you to practice writing uppercase and lowercase T’s on your own.

7.    Say: I am going to read you a story. Begin by introducing the text, The Train Trip by Geri Murray.  Now give a booktalk- It was a big day for Tim.  His friend Nate was coming on a train.  Tim is excited to have a friend his age to play with.  Nate is on the train for a long time.  The train suddenly stops at a scary place.  Now lets read the story to find out what happens next!   The first time I read it to you I am going to ask some questions after each page. [Now read the story and talk before you turn, meaning ask questions about the story at the end of every page.] Now that you are familiar with the story I am going to read it to you a second time.  If you hear me read a word with /t/ I want everyone to tick like a clock.  After the reading is over we will review the words in the story that had /t/.  Also, we will discuss other words with /t/.  After we discuss words with /t/ I will ask each student to pick a word with /t/, write it in a sentence, and illustrate it.

8.    Say: It is important to pay attention to your mouth movements when you read words.  Realizing which mouth movements you make allows you to know which sounds are in which words.  For example if you have two words, take and rake, you need to recognize each mouth movement for each word so that you can decide which word has the sound you are looking for, in this case /t/, ttt-aa-kk-ee, rrr-aaa-kk-ee.  My tongue touches my top teeth when I say take but not when I say rake so I know that take must have /t/.  Now you try some: TOAD or LOAD, BOOK or TOOK, PICK or TICK.

*This portion of the lesson can be completed either in whole group instruction or individually.  This can be beneficial to complete individually because you can accurately see whether or not the student understands the concept.

9.    Assessment: Distribute the worksheet.  Each student is to color in each of the drawings that begin with T.  For the most accurate assessment have the students complete the worksheet individually and quietly.




Book: Murray, Geri. The Train Trip. Genie Collection. 2007. 14 pages.

Internet Site:

Jones, Noelle. The Ticking Clock with T. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/jonesnel.htm

Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie. Link to Downloadable Decodable Text

Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie. Phoneme Gestures .

Assessment Worksheet: SuperTeacherWorksheets. Worksheet Link.


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