"Popping P’s With Popcorn!"

Kathryn Byers


Rationale: Recognizing a phoneme is an essential skill that must be mastered before children can effectively read and write. Children must be able to differentiate between sounds to foster their understanding of language. This lesson engages children in hands on training, decodable scripts, and activities to advance their understanding of the phoneme /p/. This lesson will help children identify /p/, the phoneme represented by P. Students will learn to recognize /p/ in spoken words by learning through a meaningful representation (popcorn popping) and the letter symbol P. Students will practice finding /p/ in words and apply phoneme awareness with /p/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing words from beginning letters.


Materials: pencils, primary paper, crayons, tongue twister on poster "Princess Polly picks the pumpkins in the patch", notecards with a picture of popcorn & the letter "P" on the other side, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, assessment worksheet for each student. Chart paper with the words "pig, play, hop, ran, house" written on it, sheet containing Puddle, rock, pop, dot, sad, happy, open, close, blue, purple, lamp, lid, sit, lip, pig, cow, pink, jump, mat for teacher to read aloud,




To begin the lesson explain to students that different letters make different sounds, and our mouths move in different ways for each sound.


Say: "Have you ever stopped to think about the different sounds you hear in words? This can sometimes be tricky if you don’t know what sounds all of the letters make. Today we are going to focus on how we make /p/. The letter "p" makes the /p/ sound. Everyone look at my mouth, /p/!" (Teacher should exaggerate the p sound for students to hear.)


Have the students practice forming the lowercase letter p.


Say: Remember, to write the letter "p" we start with our pencil at the fence, and we go down into the ditch. Then we come straight back up and circle around, placing the top of his head on the fence, and his chin on the sidewalk. Watch as I draw the letter p. (Teacher draws p on the board) Okay, take out a piece of primary paper and practice writing the letter p. When you are finished hold your paper up for me to see. Great job!"


Model how to make the /p/ sound and what your mouth does when you say /p/.


Say: Raise your hand if you have ever had popcorn! Who has heard popcorn popping in the microwave before? What sound does it make? (Give students a moment to respond) Yes, it makes the /p/ /p/ /p/ sound just like our letter p. Lets all make the popcorn sound together (/p/ /p/ /p/). Fabulous! Notice how I start with my lips together and then I push them out to let out a "puff" of air."


Show the students how they can stretch out words to find the appropriate sound


Say: "I am going to show you how to find the /p/ sound in the word "pig". First, I am going to stretch the word out so that I know when I hear the popcorn popping: Pppp-iiii-ggggg. Pppp…..there it is! Do you hear the /p/ sound in P-i-g? I heard my popcorn pop at the beginning of the word "pig", so I know there is a "p" at the beginning of the word pig. Lets all say "pig" slowly: pppp-iii-gggg. Now say it slower and realllly stretch out the beginning sound: ppppppppp-iii-g. I can hear the popcorn popping in pig. Do you hear the popcorn popping when you say it?"


Have the students say a tongue twister (on poster) as a class to obtain more practice with the new sound.


Say: "Look at this poster. One day a princess named Polly decided she wanted to pick something, so she did. (Read tongue tickler) "Princess Polly picks the pumpkins in the patch". Hmm, as I read that I heard a lot of popcorn popping. Lets figure out where. Lets say our tongue tickler: "Princess Polly picks the pumpkins in the patch". Now lets stretch out the words to find where the popcorn pops." (Say the tongue tickler slow, exaggerating the /p/ sound in each word)


          Hand on notecards for further practice:


Say: "Everyone look at the notecard I just gave you. There is a picture of popcorn on one side, and what letter is on the back? (/p/) Good! The letter p. When you hear the popcorn popping in our tongue tickler raise your notecard up high for me to see. Ready, "Pppppprincess Ppppolly pppppicks  the ppppumppkins in the pppatch". Let’s try it again, but instead I want to you stop and say the /p/ separately from the word. For example: /P/ retty. (model this!) When I broke the /p/ off in pretty I could hear the popcorn popping. Remember to raise your notecard high when you hear the popcorn. "/P/ rincess /P/ olly /p/ icks the           /p/ umpkins in the /p/ atch. Awesome! "


In order to assess student understanding, give them words and ask which word has the /p/ sound.


Pull out the chart paper with the words "house, play, ran, and hop" on it. Say: "Now, lets read a few words and see if we hear our popcorn popping in them. We are going to practice stretching the words out like we did earlier to see if we hear the /p/. I will go first: the word is "house". Hhhhh-ouse, house" Hmm, I don’t think I heard any popcorn popping. Let me stretch it out slower. Hhhhhhh-ooouuu-seeee, nope, there is definitely no /p/ in the word house. Now who wants to try a different word? Pick volunteers to stretch out the words "play, ran, and hop". Have the other students hold their notecard up when they hear the student say the /p/ sound.


"Now let's play a game. I want everyone to crouch down on the floor next to your desk. I am going to say some words and I want you to pop up like popcorn and make the /p/ sound when you hear it. Puddle, rock, pop, dot, sad, happy, open, close, blue, purple, lamp, lid, sit, lip, pig, cow, pink, jump, mat. (words can be said in any order) Very Good!"


Read If You Give a Pig a Pancake.


Say: "Now everyone sit back and relax. I am going to read a story called If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Doesn’t that sound like a silly book? Do you think pigs eat pancakes? What might happen if you give a pig a pancake? This book is going to tell us what will happen if you DO give a pig a pancake, and we are going to find out that there are lots of really silly things that a pig might want that you maybe never thought of! Let’s read it and find out! I going to read it and I want you to listen closely and every time you hear the /p/ sound I want you to stomp your feet! Afterwards, we will talk about all the words that you stomped your feet for, and decide if we hear the /p/ sounds or not! Ready?



Give each student the assessment worksheet. The teacher will say the names of the pictures [pumpkin, flower, pail, pineapple, spoon] on the right as students connect the pigs to the pictures that BEGIN with the sound /p/. (So even though spoon contains a p, the students will not connect a pig to the picture of the spoon) They will use crayons to color the pictures that begin with /p/ if time permits. This assessment will show the teacher if each student is phonetically aware of the phoneme /p/.




Assessment Worksheet:




Lesson References:

Murray, Bruce. "Brush Your Teeth With F: Emergent Literacy." http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html


Taylor Bailey "Popping P’s"



Reynolds, Gina. "Perfectly Popping." http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/innov/reynoldsel.html


Tongue Tickler:

Myself J, but modified from:



Explanation for forming the letter "p":

Bruce Murray, Making Sight Words, Ronkonkoma, Linus Publications, Inc, page 294.