Stay Sneaky Says the Snake


Emergent Literacy

Kristen Goodson

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn how to recognize /s/ in written and spoken words by learning the meaningful representation, doing a slithering hand motion and saying 'sssssss'. Students will practice this skill by doing the hand gesture every time they hear or read /s/ in a given word list.

Materials: primary paper and pencil, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, word list with bake, sold, steak, dent, town silly, stop hurry, sit, mad snow, trap, assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /s/ (URL link below)


1. Say: "Did you know our written language is a secret code? It is very important to learn this code to learn the sound of each letter in the code. Today we are going to learn that the letter S makes a /s/ noise and learn a fun hand gesture to help remember the symbol."

2. "Now let's make the /s/ sound. The /s/ sound sounds like a snake slithering, so every time we hear the sound in a word we are going to put our hands together and slither them like a snake." After demonstrating the motion and having the students do it a few times while saying 'sneaky snake' tell them they are very good at learning this new sound.

3. "Now let's figure out what our mouth is doing when we are saying this letter. Do you feel your tongue as you say 'snake' very slowly? Your mouth is stretched out wide and your tongue is pushed forward to make a hissing noise like a snake! Say 'SSSSSSSS-nake'. Can you feel your mouth stretched and tongue pushed forward? That is how we make the /s/ noise!

4. "We are going to learn a tongue twister together to better learn the symbol sound of S. 'Silly Sally the Snake was Sore on Saturday.' Now, let's all say it together and slither our hands like snakes when we hear the /s/ sound. 'ssssssilly ssssssally the ssssnake wasssss ssssssore on sssssaturday' good job! Now, we are going to say the tongue twister together a few more times to really hear that /s/ sound.

5.  Have the students take out a piece of paper and their pencils in order to practice writing the s. "Now that we know what the letter S sounds like we need to practice writing the letter so we can recognize it on paper!" Write a big letter S on the board so all the students can see it. "The letter S not only sounds like a snake, but it looks like a snake too! That should make it easy for you to recognize it! I want you to all write a lowercase s on your paper. To do that, you start at the belt of mr.bear and make a tiny c about halfway down to the boots. Then you swing the c back around the other way to finish the lower case s. Once you have written your s raise your hand and I will come stamp your paper and you can sit at your seat and write 5 more little s's on your paper."

6. "We have now learned to write S on our papers! I need everyone to come sit on the carpet so we can go through a list of words and make our slithering hand gesture whenever we hear /s/ in words. I am going to say 2 words and hold up a card with the word on it and I want you to listen really good to see which word has the /s/ sound in it or recognize the S symbol and repeat it back to me while doing your slithering snake hand motion. Ready? 'do you hear /s/ in bake or sold? Steak or dent? Town or silly? Stop or hurry? Sit or mad? Snow or trap?"

7. "You guys are great at hearing the /s/ noise! We are going to read a short book now. Whenever you hear the sound we have been practicing 'sssssss' I want you to do the new hand motion we learned that looks like a snake! Our book is called: Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson.  

8. Book talk: One by one, different animals and birds find their way into Bear's cozy cave. They make different kinds of snacks and treats to keep themselves from being in the cold. But even after they make all of their yummy snacks, bear continues to snore! Let's read and find out what happens when bear wakes up to a cave full of uninvited friends.

9. After reading the book I will have the students head back to their seats in order to do a worksheet for assessment that will show just how well the students have learned the new sound/symbol. The worksheet is simple enough for this level of students.


Assessment worksheet:

Murray, Bruce.  Teaching Letter Recognition.

Wilson, Karma. (2002). Bear Snores On. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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