Ssssss....Goes the Slithering Snake


  Ally Harper

Emergent Literacy Design



Rationale: this lesson will help children identify /s/, the phonemes represented by S. students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (slithering snake...ssss) 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; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with SOCK, SEVEN, SKATE, SALAD, SAY, and SNAKE; 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 curled up, and /s/ sounds like the noise a snake makes- ssssss....

2. Let's pretend to make the snake noise, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime a snake making this noise] Notice where your top teeth are? (Touching lower teeth). When we say /s/, we blow air between out top teeth and bottom teeth.

3. Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word snake. I'm going to stretch snake out in super slow motion and listen for my snake noise. Ssss-n-aa-ke. Slower: Sssss-n-n-n-aaa-kk-e. There it was! I felt my teeth touch together and blow air. I can feel the snake slithering /s/ in snake.

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. "Ssssam ssssaid he was sssorry he put sssalt in Ssssally's ssssandwich." 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 snake. For capital S, first form a c up in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back. Let's write the lowercase letter s. For lowercase s, form a tiny c up in the air, and then swing back. I want to see everybody's s. 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 /s/ in slow or fun? Say or gray? Glass or mom? Slip or drop? Scoop or day? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Make the snake noise ssss...if you hear /s/: Gone, salad, bug, slow, house, to, maybe, stop, smart.

7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny boy named Sammy Slick whose name starts with S. Guess what silly thing Sammy does?" Read page 44, drawing out /s/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /s/. Ask them to make up a silly name like Sir Sippy Sip, or Sloppy Sally Stone. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly person.  Display their work.

8. Show SOCK and model how to decide if it is sock or man: The S tells me to make the snake sound, /s/, so this word is SSS-o-ck, sock. You try some: SEVEN: heaven or seven? SKATE: skate or mate? SALAD: salad or manage? SAY: ray or say? SNAKE: snake or cake?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to say the name of each s word aloud and listen for the /s/ sound and color the pictures that begin with S. They will next trace the upper and lowercase S at the bottom of the page. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.


Reference: "Brushing your teeth with F" by Bruce Murray:

The Reading Genie:

Seuss, . (1963). Dr. Seuss's ABC. New York: Beginner Books.

Picture of the snake:

Assessment worksheet:



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