Huh, Huh, Running is Hard!

Emergent Literacy

Stephanie Thomson


Rationale:  This lesson will help students recognize the /h/ phoneme represented by the letter H. Students will learn to recognize /h/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (the back and forth motion of the arms when running while panting "huh, huh, huh").  Students will also learn to recognize the letter symbol H.  The students will practice finding /h/ in words and will apply phoneme awareness with /h/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Primary paper and pencil; Chart with "Haley has a horrible headache and hates to hear Henry howl"; Drawing paper and crayons; Words cards with HAT, HEN, SEAT, FIND, HAND, and HARM; Assessment worksheet with /h/ (URL below), Chips for the Chicks


1) Say: "Our language is a secret code.  The tricky part is learning what each letter stands for in the alphabet.  Today, we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /h/.  We spell /h/ with H.  The /h/ sounds like a runner all out of breath (panting)."

2) "Now, pretend that you are running and all out of breath (panting) /h/ /h/ /h/ (moving our arms back and forth like we're running).  What is your mouth doing while we pant? (open and circular)  When we say /h/, our mouth is wide open and air is blown out."

3) "Let me show you how to find /h/ in the word hen.  I am going to stretch hen in slow motion and listen for my panting.  Hhhh-eee-nn. Slower: Hhhhhhh-e-e-e-e-e-e-nnnnn. I heard the /h/! I felt my mouth open wide and felt the panting /h/ in hen." 

4) "Now, let's try a tongue twister (on chart).  "Haley has a horrible headache and hates to hear Henry howl."   Everybody say the tongue twister three times together.  Next, say the tongue twister again, but this time stretch the /h/ at the beginning of the words.  "Hhhaley hhhas a hhhorrible hhheadache and hhhates to hhhear Hhhenry hhhowl."  Try the tongue twister again, and this time break /h/ off of the word: /h/ aley  /h/ as  a  /h/ orrible /h/ eadache and /h/ ates  to  /h/ ear  /h/enry  /h/ owl." 

5) (Students take out primary paper and pencil)  "We use letter H to spell /h/.  Capital H looks like the finish line of a race.  Let's write the lowercase h.  Start at the rooftop and drop a straight line to the sidewalk.  Then go to the fence and make a little bump like n from the line down to the sidewalk.  After I put a smile on your paper, I want you to make nine more of lowercase h."

6) Call on students to answer and tell how they knew the answer: Do you hear /h/ in has or sun? jump or help? hog or cat? cold or hot? Say: "Who can spot the open mouth /h/ in some words? Give me a thumbs up if you hear /h/: The, hungry, hog, wanted, red, daisies, to, hang, high, in, the, house." 

7) Have students make up a silly sentence with invented spelling and all words starting with the /h/ sound. Have the students draw a picture to go with this sentence and then have students say their sentence and show their picture to the rest of the class.

8) Show HEN card and model how to decide if it is hen or pen: The H tells me to start panting, /h/, so this word is hhhh-en, hen. You try some: HAND: hand or land? SEAT: neat or seat? FIND: find or hind? HAND: hand or sand? HARM: harm or farm?

9) Students will read Chips for the Chicks because it requires all five short vowels. Booktalk: It is lunch time and Mom lets the kids eat outside.  Look out, Ben and Jess.  Lad wants some lunch, too. What do you think will happen? Let's read to find out!

10) For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to circle the letter sound they hear at the beginning of each picture word. Then they are to circle the correct word and print it neatly in the space provided.  Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8. 


Cosper, Liz. H, H, Huffing and Puffing

Chips for the Chicks, by Geri Murray


Google Image:


Return to Rendezvous index