Milking the Mooing Cow with "M"

Emergent Literacy Design

Mary Kathryn Donner


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /m/, the phone represented by M. Students will learn to recognize /m/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (milking the cow) and the letter symbol M, practicing finding /m/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /m/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Molly the moody cow is mostly milking and mooing"; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards (MEET, FIX, MIND, MAKE, and HATCH); assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /m/ (see URL)




1. Say: Our written language, the English language, is like a secret code. The tricky part is learning what the different letters stand for--our mouths move and make different sounds as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /m/. We spell /m/ with letter M. We are going to pretend that the letter M is our cow that we are milking. /M/ is the sound we get when our mouth says "moo", and it is also the sound that a cow makes when he "moos" as she is being milked! Let's say "m-m-m" as we milk our cow with our hands to represent the /m/ sound.


2. Let's pretend we are at a farm and we are milking a cow "Mmm-o-o"! (Children will have their hands out like they are milking a cow.) Notice what your mouth is doing. (Your lips are together). When we say /m/, our lips are together as we make our /m/ sound. Let's see if we can sound like cows, "Mmm-o-o."


3. Let me show you how to find /m/ in the word melt. I'm going to stretch melt out in a super slow motion and I want you to listen for my "moo" sound. Mmm-e-l-t. Slower: Mmm-e-e-e-lllll-t. There it was! I felt my lips come together! I think I heard a cow mooing in here! I can feel the mooing /m/ in melt.


4. Lets try a tongue twister (on chart). "Molly the moody cow is mostly milking and mooing." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /m/ at the beginning of the words. "Mmmoolly the mmmoody cow is mmmostly mmmilking and mmmoing." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/m/ olly the /m/ oody cow is /m/ ostly /m/ ilking and /m/ ooing."


5. (At this point I will have students take out their primary paper and pencil). We use letter M to spell /m/. Capital M looks like cow utters that farmers pull to get milk out of cows! Let's write the lowercase m. You will start this letter at the fence line and draw a straight line down to the sidewalk. Then you will come back up and make one hump that touches the fence, then half way down to the sidewalk and then back up for a second hump that touches the fence and back down to the sidewalk to complete your lowercase letter m. I want to see everybody's m. After I put a smile on it, I want to see you make nine more m's just like that!


6. I will call on students during this time to answer and tell me how they got their answer: Do you hear /m/ in seat or more? walk or move? Tom or Max?  mouse or text? hat or match? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /m/ in some words. Milk the "mooing cow" if you hear /m/ in these words: the, mug, mask, flower, pink, mink, to, the, magic, bug, mucus, dog, mice.


7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with M. Can you guess?" Read page dedicated to letter M, drawing out /m/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /m/. Ask the children to make up silly creatures will silly creature names like mildy-mannered-moo-moo or magical-magnificent-maxi-moo-mee. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly creature. Display their work.


8. Show MUG and model how to decide if it is mug or hug? The M tells me to milk the cow, /m/, so this word is mmm-ug, mug. You try some: MIX: mix or fix? MEET: tweet or meet? FIND: find or mind? BAKE: bake or make? MATCH: match or hatch?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with M. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.




Nirschl, Katie. Mmm, That Was Good.

Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case for teaching recognition of phoneme identity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 805-812.l


Assessment worksheet:

Giesel, T. (Dr. Seuss). Dr. Seuss's Alphabet Book. Random House, 1963.


Click here to return to the Renzdevous index!