Be a Ticking Clock with T

Emergent Literacy

Savanna Smith


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /t/, the phoneme represented by T. Students will learn to recognize /t/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (the ticking of a clock) and the letter symbol T, practice finding /t/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /t/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Tim's tiny turtle took Tammy's tacks"; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with TOP, TAN, SEAT, TAME, TEST, and TUMMY; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /t/ (URL below).



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 /t/. We spell /t/ with letter T. /t/ sounds like a ticking clock.

2. Let's pretend to be a clock, /t/, /t/, /t/. Notice where your tongue is? (Touching the back of your upper teeth). The sound /t/ is a quick, popping sound.

3. Let me show you how to find /t/ in the word rest. I'm going to stretch rest out in super slow motion and listen for my ticking clock. Rrr-e-e-est. Slower: Rrr-e-e-e-ss-t There it was! I felt my tongue touch the back of my teeth. I can feel the clock ticking /t/ in rest.

4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Tim's tiny turtle took Tammy's tacks." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, really punch the /t/ at the beginning of the words. "Tttim's Tttiny Ttturtle Tttook Tttammy's Tttacks" Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/t/ im's /t/ iny /t/ urtle /t/ ook /T/ ammy's /t/ acks.

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter T to spell /t/. Capital T looks like a /t/ able. Let's write the lowercase letter t. Start just below the rooftop. Start to make a tall straight pole in the air, then straighten it out all the way down to the sidewalk. Then cross it at the fence. I want to see everybody's t. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /t/ in give or take? finger or toe? Big or little? Tall or small? Lift or drop? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /t/ in some words. Give me a thumbs up if you hear /t/: The, crazy, tremendous, dog, tripped, towards, the, door.

7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about turtles tumbling out of trees. Read that page, drawing out /t/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /t/. Ask them to make up a silly story with /t/. Then have each student write their silly story with invented spelling and draw a picture of their story. Display their work.

8. Show TOP and model how to decide if it is TOP or POP: The T sounds like the ticking clock /t/, so this word is ttt-op, top. You try some: TAN: tan or man? TAME: same or tame? SEAT: seal or seat? TEST: test or pest? TUMMY: tummy or yummy?

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


Christina Statler.  "Be A Ticking Clock With T"

Assessment worksheet:

Geisel, T. (Dr. Seuss).  Dr. Seuss's ABC. Random House, 1963.


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