Tap the Tambourine for “T”


Emergent Literacy Design

 Jennifer Russell


Rationale: This lesson teaches students to recognize /t/, the phoneme represented by T. Before students can read, they must be able to recognize letters and their corresponding phonemes that comprise pronunciations. Students will learn how to recognize words with the t=/t/. They will learn a meaningful representation (tapping a tambourine ‘t,t,t’), recognize the letter in words, and write the grapheme T.


Materials: Graphic image of tambourine, tongue tickler “Terry tapped his tambourine two times”, One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies and Jane Chapman, primary paper, pencils, word cards: TAN, TIP, CAT, TEN, TOP, TACK, TOON,  assessment worksheet (link below)



1.      Say: Writing is a way we can represent our language. In order to read it, we must understand how to make the sounds that the letters represent. Our mouth uses our lips and tongue to make that sound.

2.      Say: Today we are going to learn T [Write T on board], and that letter sounds like /t/. When I say /t/, I can almost hear a someone tapping o n a tambourine [show graphic image]. Lets pretend to tap a tambourine. [Do gesture] “T,t,t”. Now, lets do it again and notice what your mouth is doing to make that sound. “T,t,t”.  How would you describe what your mouth is doing? You aren’t using your lips, but your tongue is touching the back of your teeth. It is almost as if your tongue is your hand and your teeth are the tambourine.


3.      Say: Now, let me show you how we can listen and find the /t/ in a word. I’m going to find it in the word ‘Tape’. When I say the word ‘tape’, I will be listening for /t/ and seeing if my tongue taps on my teeth. ‘Ttt-ape’. I heard it at the beginning. Listen again. ‘Ttt-ape’. Now I want you to say the word just as I did. ‘Tttt-ape’. Great job!


4.      Say: Let me show you a tongue tickler. Listen closely. “Terry tapped his tambourine two times.” This time I want you to repeat it after I say it. “Terry tapped his tambourine two times.” You sounded great! Now, we’re going to say it slowly, and when you hear the letter T, /t/, I want you to tap on your tambourine! Lets try it. “Ttterry tttapped his tttambourine tttwo tttimes.” Great! Now let’s break the /t/ off the beginning of the words. Listen to me first. /t/-erry /t/-apped his /t/-ambourine /t/-wo /t/-imes. Now all together. “/t/-erry /t/-apped his /t/-ambourine /t/-wo /t/-imes.” Good job!


5.      Say: Now I am going to say some words and you are going to tap your tambourine when you hear the /t/. Do you hear /t/ in tan or can? pip or tip? tab or cab? hen or ten? mop or top? tack or sack? toon or moon? You did a great job!


6.      [Students will use their primary paper] Say: Now we are going to learn and practice writing the letter T. [Have primary paper on projector or written on board and show students the roof, fence, sidewalk, ditch] To write capital T, we draw a line across the roof, then we go to the middle and draw a line straight down to the side walk. Lower case t look like a cross. Let’s draw a line from right under the roof to the sidewalk, then we’ll go across it on the fence. Now I want you to practice drawing both capital and lowercase t. Once you have one of each, I will come check it. After I check it I want you to draw 5 more of each.


7.      [Read One Tiny Turtle ] Say: Now we are going to read a story about turtles. This story is about the life of a turtle. It hatches from its egg and then it is all on its own in the world. When you hear /t/ during reading, I want you to silently tap your tambourines! After the story, you will write one fact you learned about turtles and draw a picture of your fact in your journals.


8.      Assessment: I will go around to individual students and have them read the word cards (TAN, TIP, CAT, TEN, TOP, TACK, TOON) and assess them by asking "Is this TAN or FAN? Students will complete worksheet where they will match images to their corresponding words that being with the letter T as I assess individual students



Davies, Nicola. One Tiny Turtle. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2001. Print. http://www.worldcat.org/title/one-tiny-turtle/oclc/45486815


"Match the Words to the Pictures: T." Enchanted Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2012. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/alphabet/matchwordsandpix/t.shtml


Ivey, Jennifer. Emergent Literacy Design. "T... Tick-Tock Goes the Clock" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/iveyjel.htm

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