Sally’s Hiss

Emergent Literacy Design

Haley Jacobs

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 (a cat hissing) and the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Sally sits silently studying sunny sunflowers”; drawing paper and crayons; word cards with SIDE, SEAL, SAD, SOFT, SING, and SICK; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/ (URL below).

Procedures: 1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for-the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we’re going to work on spotting the mouth move /s/. We spell /s/ with the letter S. S looks like a snake and sounds like when a cat is mad it may hiss.

2.  Let’s pretend we are a cat hissing, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime slithering hand like a snake] Notice where your lips are? When we say /s/ our teeth are closed but our lips are parted like we are smiling. We blow air through our teeth to make the /s/ sound.

3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word slide. I'm going to stretch slide out in super slow motion and listen for the cat hissing. Sss-ll-ii-de. Slower: Sss-lll-iii-de There it was! I felt my teeth together and air coming out between my lips. I can hear myself say /s/ in slide.

4.  Let’s say a tongue twister [on chart]. “Sally sits silently studying sunny sunflowers.” Everybody say it three times and slither your hand like a snake each time you hear /s/. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /s/ at the beginning of the words. “Sssally sssits sssilently ssstudying sssunny sssunflowers.” Try it again, and this time, break it off the word: “/s/ ally /s/ its /s/ ilently /s/ tudying /s/ unny /s/ unflowers.”

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter S to spell /s/. Capital S looks like a snake. Let’s write the lowercase letter s. Start at the fence, draw a small c then curve it back around all the way down to the sidewalk. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make 5 more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in sock or laces? Summer or winter? Sun or rain? Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Slither your hand when you hear /s/: The, silver, slide, was, slippery, when, wet.

7. Say: “We use S to write the snake sound. Is this Side or ride? Sad or mad? Sing or ring?”

8. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to practice writing the letter S and then color in the objects that start with the letter S.  [Assessment worksheet:]


Murray, Geri. M. . . m Good!” I say with M.




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