“Hisssssing Snake Says SSSsss”

Emergent Literacy

Alyssa Gilman

Emergent Literacy Lesson Design


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful gesture (hissing snake) and the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Sam said he was sorry he put salt in Sally's sandwich"; drawing paper and crayons; Yummy Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta (Charlesbridge Pub Inc (October 1994); word cards with SAD, MAD, SIX, FIX, STOP, HOP, SET, LET, SUP, PUP, SAKE, RAKE; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/ (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 /s/. We spell /s/ with letter S. S looks like a snake, and /s/ sounds like a hissing snake.


2. Let's pretend to hiss like a snake, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime tongue hissing like a snake’s tongue] Notice how your teeth are closed and your tongue is touching the back of your upper front teeth?. When we say /s/, we blow air off our tongue and in between our closed teeth.


3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word last. I'm going to stretch last out in super slow motion and listen for my hissing snake. Ll-a-a-ss-t. Slower: Lll-a-a-a-sss-t There it was! I felt my tongue touch my upper teeth. I can feel the hissing snake in the last.


4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Sam said he was sorry he put salt in Sally's sandwich" Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /s/ at the beginning of the words. "Sssam sssaid he was sssorry he put sssalt in SSSally’s sssandwich" Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/s/ am /s/ aid he was /s/ orry he put /s/ alt in /s/ ally’s /s/ andwich”


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter S  to spell /s/.

Capital S looks like a curved snake. Let's write the lowercase letter s. Start your pencil just below the fence and make a little c that is between the fence and the sidewalk, then without lifting your pencil make a backwards c that ends on the sidewalk. I want to see everybody's lowercase s. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make five more just like it. Now we will make uppercase S. Start with the point of your pencil just below the roof. Make a c between the roof and the fence, then without lifting your pencil make a backwards c between the fence and sidewalk. Make sure the bottom of your second c rest it’s bottom on the sidewalk. I want to see everybody’s uppercase S. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make five more just like it.


6. Call on students to answer and then tell how they knew: Do you hear /s/ in sap or map? Set or let? Stop or go? Silly or mad? Salad or chicken? Say: Let's see if you can spot

the mouth move /s/ in some words. Hissing your tongue if you hear the /s/: The, silly,

sneaky, worm, slithered, sideways, to, the, sidewalk.


7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Mr. Pallotta tells us about a minty flavor whose name start with S. Can you guess?" Read page with S sound, drawing out /s/. Have children flick their hissing snake tongues when they hear the /s/ sound. After the story is over have the children draw a picture of their own hissing snake and write a message using invented spelling.


8. Show SAD and model how to decide if it is sad or mad: The S tells me to hissing like a snake, /s/, so this word is ssss-ad, sad. You try some: SIX: six or fix? STOP: stop or hop? SET: set or let? SUP: sup or pup? SAKE: sake or rake?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the worksheet by practicing writing their Ss, writing Ss in front of the words that have pictures that names start with Ss, and color pictures. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.




(Hollis, Haley. Emergent Literacy Design. "Slithering Snake Says SSSsss")


http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/shepherdkel.htm (Shepherd, Kasey. Emergency Literacy Design, “SS, sss, Sneaky Snake”)








Pallotta, Jerry. Yummy Alphabet Book. Charlesbridge Publishing Inc., 1994. Print.

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