“Icky Sticky”

Alyssa Gilman

Beginning Reading Lesson Design


Rationale: Children need explicit, systematic phonics instruction in order to successfully learn to read. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence i = /i/. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling i. They will spell and read words containing this spelling in a letterbox lesson and they will read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence i = /i/.

Materials: Image of icky sticky hands; large magnetic Elkonin boxes for teacher; individual Elkonin boxes for student; magnetic and regular letter tiles (i,n,f,x,l,p,t,c,k,r,g,s,h); list of words on chart paper (in, fix, lip, tick, rink, grill, shrink, crisp, frith); decodable text: Lad is Sick (enough for each child); assessment worksheet (link below)


1. Say: We are going to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words so that we can become expert readers. We are going to learn about short i and the sound it makes. When I say /i/ I think of something icky sticky in my hands! Show the children the hand gesture of pulling both hands apart as if there were something sticky between them. Have the letter I and the icky sticky picture on the board for visuals.

2. Say: Before we learn how to spell words with /i/, we have to hear it in words! When I listen for /i/ in words, my lips make a little stretched out smile, my mouth is open, and the tip of my tongue is resting against the back of my lower teeth. [Make vocal gesture for /i/.] I'll show you first: hit. I heard icky sticky /i/ and I felt my lips make a stretched out smile. There is a short i in hit. Now I'm going to see if it's in pack. Hmm, I didn't hear the icky sticky /i/ sound and I didn't make a stretched out smile with my lips. Now you try. If you hear /i/ make your icky sticky hands! Is it in pick, train, pit, got, swim? Show me your icky sticky hands when you hear the /i/ sound in my tongue twister: The important Indian was ill with injuries inside the igloo.

3. Now I want to spell crisp in my letterboxes.  “Crisp chicken is the best.” Crisp means it is fresh and crunchy. Before I can spell out crisp in the letterboxes, I need to know how many phonemes are in the word crisp. Let’s stretch it out and count the phonemes: /c/ /r/ /i/ /s/ /p/. I need five boxes. I heard the /i/ just before the /s/ so I'm going to put an i in the 3rd box because I heard two sounds, /s/ /p/, after it so it must go there. The word starts with the /k/ sound so I will put c in the first box. I hear /r/ after c so I am going to put r in the 2nd box. (Continue until the entire word is spelled out) That spells crisp just like it is spelled on our chart.

4. Now it is your turn to spell some words in the letterboxes. You'll start out easy with two boxes for in. “We are going in the classroom.” What should go in our first box? [Respond to students]. What should go in our second box? [Respond]. Now you are going to spell some words on your own. I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box and remember to listen for our icky sticky /i/ sound. Here’s the word: fix, my daddy can fix that; fix. [Allow children to spell the rest of the words, giving sentences for each word: lip, tick, rink, grill, and shrink.]

5. Now we are going to read all of the words that we spelled. Here’s how I would read a word that had the letter i in it (demonstrate hit…/i/, /h//i/, /hi/, /hi//t/. If I blend this together I get hit!). [Show the words in, fix, lip, tick, rink, grill, shrink, and the pseudoword frith. Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6. You have all done a fantastic job with all of the /i/ words. Now we are going to read a story called Lad is Sick. This is a story about a dog named Lad. Lad is a sick dog. Lad needs to drink water to get better. You will have to read more to find out if Lad gets better! Turn and read with a partner. One partner reads one page, and the other partner reads the next page (walk around monitoring reading). Now we are all going to read the story aloud at the same time (stop and ask questions throughout the story).

7. Before we finish up our short i lesson, I want to see if you can find the word with the short i sound in a sentence. On this worksheet, we have some sentences. Your job is to read the sentence and circle the word that has our icky sticky /i/ sound. Then write that word on the line. First try reading the whole sentence, then go back and listen to yourself say each word. Remember to listen for the /i/ sound. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]



Murray, G. (2004) Jakes Joke. Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/bookindex.html

Montgomery, M. (2012) Iiiicky Sticky Ice Cream. Reading Genie:


Kelley, B. (2012) Iiiiicky Stiiiicky. Reading Genie:






Book Resource

Murray, B. Lad is Sick http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/bookindex.html


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