Sssss Says the Slithering Snake

Emergent Literacy Design

Haley Wilson


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation, or a slithering snake, and the letter /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: primary paper, pencil, a poster with the tongue tickler "Sally put salt in Sam's sandwich." Drawing paper and crayons, printed words on cards (sat, task, sing, had, song, past, slim, list); book Six Sleepy Sheep by J. Gordon, and an assessment worksheet with pictures with and without /s/ sounds.


Introduction, Activities, and Procedure:

1. "Letters have their own sounds, and some letters even have more than one sound. Words are made up of letters which represent sounds, and when the sounds are blended together the words has a meaning. Today we're going to work on spotting the slithering snake s in words. We call it the slithering snake s because "ssssss" is the hissing noise that snakes make, and "s" looks like a snake. The sounds /s/ is represented by the letter s. Let's practice writing the letter s."


2. Let's make a snake motion, "sssss" and we're going to draw a snake in the air with our hands together. When we make the "sss" sound, our teeth are closed and we are blowing out air, our tongue touches the roof of our mouths on the sides.


3. I'm going to show you how to find the slithering snake /s/ in the word snake. I'm going to stretch it out and use our hand motion, "Ssssss-nnn-a-a-a-ke." Did you notice your teeth closed and air coming out?


4. Let's try a tongue tickler (pull out poster) "Sally put Salt on Sam's sandwich". Let's say it together and we're going to stretch the /s/'s this time. "Ssssssssally put sssssalt on Sssssam'sssss sssssandwich." This time, we're going to break the /s/ off of the word, "S-ally put s-alt on S-am-'s s-andwich."


5. Provide students with primary paper and pencil. "For a capitol "S" we're going to start a little bit below the rooftop and make a "c" that goes to the fence, Then we're going to keep going to make a backwards "c" that goes from the fence down to the sidewalk and back up a little bit. "Next, we are going to make a lower case "s." This is the same as the capital "S" except it is smaller. Start making the c a little bit below the fence and come down to make the backwards "c" at the sidewalk just like the capitol "S." Doesn't it look like a curled up snake? Let's write ten of each, upper case "S" and lower case "s."


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in sun or in fun? Land or sand? Ask or and?  Matt or Class? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Slither your snake (with your hands) when you hear /s/: The, sunny, sand, far, skunk, at, log, rink, mask, class.


7. Say: "Let's read our alphabet book. There are six sheep who are trying to fall asleep by using different methods that start with /s/. Let's read to find out what they are! (after reading:) They try slurping soup, telling stories, singing, and more. Can you think of more things that start with the letter S that might help the sheep fall asleep? Have each student write down one or several ways to help the sheep fall asleep that start with "S" and have them draw a picture of their sleeping method. Display their work.


8. Show SAT and model how decide if it is sat or pat: The S tells me to slither like a snake "sssss", so this word is ssss-a-t, sat. You try some: SAND: sand or land? SACK: sack or pack? SING: ring or sing? SAY: lay or say?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the matching sheet and match the Sailboat S with the pictures that begin with "S." Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Gordon, J. Six Sleepy Sheep. New York: Puffin Books. 1991. 

Assessment worksheet:

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