Mind Your P’s and Q’s

Shanley Hicks

Goal and Rational: The goal for this lesson is to identify the sounds correlated to the letters p and q. This is very important for children to learn. I will touch on how the two letters are similar and that by learning each letter’s own unique sound, we can read these letters without confusion. We will identify the sounds P and Q make, p=/p/ and q=/kw/. I will do this by having a carpet time discussion as well as providing practice for students to write p and q and look and listen for them in text. 




- Large cards with the letters p and q written on them, 1 per letter

- Picture cards with words starting with p -  pillow, pick, pumpkin, 3

- pencils, 1 per student

-Book: Stella, Princess of the Sky, and Stella, Queen of the snow, 1

- Dry Erase Board, 1

-Dry Erase Marker, 1

-Primary writing paper, 1 per student

- Picture cards with words starting with q- queen, quail, 3

- pink and purple cards for each student



1. Have you ever noticed that there are some letters that look a lot alike? There are a few different letters in our alphabet that look so much alike, it can get confusing for us when we’re trying to read or write with them. Today, we are going to be looking at two letters that look a lot alike but are very different. These letters are the letter P and the letter Q. (show cards as you discuss each letter). 

2. Hold up the card with the letter p and ask "Who can tell me which letter this is? Yes, P! Can a different student tell me what sound P makes?  Good, p=/p/."

3.  Now everyone say /p/ with me. Great we’re going to say this 10 more times! /p/ /p/ /p/ /p/ ….(Hold the card with the p on it while students say the sound). I want us all to take a minute and say /p/ very slowly. I want us to notice how our mouth moves when we say this sound, /p/. /ppp/. Hmm, I feel like my lips POP! They come together, then pop apart pretty fast. Everyone POP their lips for popping P sound /p/. Now, listen to this sentence. "Poppy’s puppies were playing perfectly." Are there any popping P sounds in this sentence? Let’s say it again verrryy slowly. ( we all say it very slowly). What do you guys think? Yes! There are many popping P sound /p/s in that sentence. Can anyone else give me a word that has popping P?

4. Hold up the card with the letter q and ask "Who can tell me what this letter is? Yes, Q! You all are very smart. Who can tell me what sound q makes? Good, q=/kw/."

5. Now everyone say /kw/ with me. Brilliant. We’re going to say that together 10 more times. /kw/ /kw/ /kw/… (Hold the card with the q on it while students say the sound) Let’s look at how our mouth moves when we say the letter Q’s /kw/. /kw/ /kw/. I notice that at first, my lips come together like a tight O shape, then they slide out into a small smile! That’s a fun movement to say /kw/. Everyone say /kw/ and feel their lips form an O shape, then slide out into a smile. /kw/ /kw/. Now, I’m going to share a silly sentence with you all. And I want you to see if you notice any of the letter Q’s /kw/ sound. "The Queen’s quails quickly quit." Let’s all say it very slowly. Do you notice any /kw/s?... Yes! I will repeat the sentence very slowly, so everyone notices that my mouth moving into an O shape, then sliding into a smile. Then we will all say it together. 

6. Now let’s look at some pictures that make the sounds /p/ and /kw/. Which pictures start with a p and which pictures start with a q?

7. Now I want you to listen verrrrryyy careeeefully to me. I am going to say two different words and you are going to tell me if you hear the letters P or Q in each word.

- Do you hear /p/ in place or face?

- Do you hear /kw/ in queen or seen?

- Do you hear /p/ in point or joint?

- Do you hear /kw/ in quest or best?

8. Great! Now lets try some tongue ticklers with P and Q to help us remember the sounds that they make.  (Write tongue twisters on the board.)

- Here is our tongue twister for p.  Every time you hear /p/ say the sound really hard.

- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

- Here is our tongue twister for q.  Every time you hear /kw/ say the sound really hard.

                        - Be quiet, said the queen quickly, or I'll quarrel with your question!

9. Now lets practice writing p and q. Watch first as I write the letters on the board and I show you how to write them. 

- To write a lower case p start at the fence go straight down into the ditch, come up and put his chin on the sidewalk.

- To write a lower case q start with an a, come down, and give the queen some curly hair.

10.  Now I want you to practice each letter 5 times.  When you finish you should have 5 little p's and 5 little q's.  I will walk around and check on how you are doing.  If you need help, raise your hand and I will come to you.

11. You all are doing an amazing job practicing and learning the difference between p's and q's.  Now I want us to sit in our reading circle area and read Stella, Princess of the Sky and Stella, Queen of the Snow
Book talk:  Stella loves playing.  All the time she imagines and make-believes.  Let’s look and read to see where Stella's adventures take her today. 

12. In each of these books we will hear words that start with p's and q's.  As I read the book I want you to listen closely.  Each time I say a word that starts with a p, raise the pink card.  Each time I say a word that starts with a q, raise the purple card.  Let’s try it and see how it works. I will then read the title and let the children practice holding up cards.

 Assessment:  The students will be evaluated and/or assessed based on their participation in the card activity.  They will also be evaluated based on their letter writing practice from earlier in the lesson.  Assessment with the card activity will be based on the children’s responses during the reading time (how many are correct and how many are incorrect).

Checklist for assessment

_____ Accuracy in distinguishing p and q in spoken words using cards
_____ Accuracy and neatness of letter writing practice
_____ Correct execution of directions during activities and practice


Lewis, Naormi (Fall 2006). Reading Genie. Retrieved February 26, 2007, from Dancing and Bouncing with Piglet Web site: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/lewisel.html

Gay, Marie-Louise (2004). Stella, Princess of the Sky. Australia: Allen and Unwin.

Gay, Marie-Louise (2004). Stella, Queen of the Snow. Australia: Allen and Unwin.

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