Pop Popcorn With P!

Emergent Literacy Design

By: Sarah Drawdy


Rationale: This lesson will help students identify the letter P and the phoneme it represents, /p/. Students will also learn how to represent /p/ with a meaningful comparison to popcorn and with a hand gesture. The student will learn to recognize /p/ in spoken words, practice making the letter P, practice finding P in words, and practice phonetic cue reading with rhyming words.

Materials: Primary paper, pencil, phonetic cue reading cards with Pug or Dug, Jet or Pet, Puppy or guppy, and Park or Mark written on them, a tongue tickler (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers) written on a sheet of paper for me to read aloud and the students to repeat, a book practicing /p/, and an assessment worksheet with practicing the letter P.


1.    Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for and how we move our mouth when we say words. Today we are going to work on recognizing how the mouth moves when we say /p/. We spell /p/ with letter P.

2.   Say: Have you ever popped popcorn before? What sound do you hear? That’s right! The popcorn makes the sound /p/ /p/ /p/ ! When we say /p/ we put our lips together then blow a puff of air through our lips. Watch me make the /p/ sound. When you hear /p/ let’s pop our fingers open. It’s a fun hand gesture that might help us remember the POP sound that popcorn makes and it’s kind of like the pop sound our mouths make when we say /p/.

3.   Say: Let me try and show you how to find /p/ in the word dip. I’m going to say dip and see if I feel my lips go together and a puff of air come out. Can you help watch my mouth for me? Let’s see, dd-iii-ppppp. OH! My lips went together at the end of the word! That means there was a P in that word!

4.   Say: Let’s try a fun tongue tickler (on paper). I’m going to say a sentence first and then we can say it together. Be listening for /p/. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." Now say it with me, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." I heard a lot of P’s in that sentence!

5.   Say: Now that we know what /p/ sounds like, let’s practice writing a P!  Take out the worksheet with the panda on it so we can practice making our P’s. We use letter P to spell /p/. First, start at the fence, go straight down into the ditch, come up and pit his chin on the sidewalk. I’m going to walk around while you are all making your P. After I give you a thumbs up, I want you to make nine more just like it. When you see the letter P in a word, that tells you to make the /p/ sound.

6.   Practice hearing and recognizing /p/ in words with phonetic cue reading flash cards. Say: I’m going to read you two words on a card and I want you to show me the pop hand move when you hear /p/ in the word. Also, watch my mouth to see if my lips go together and air pops out!  "Pug or Dug, Jet or Pet, and Park or Mark". It looks like everyone popped their fingers out when I read the letter P!

7.   Say: We are going to read a book called The Pig’s Picnic. It’s about Mr. Pig who wants Miss Pig to come on a picnic with him. He wants to give her something special and wants to look really nice for her. I wonder if she agrees to go with him and if he ever found anything special to give her. We’ll have to see! This book has lots of the /p/ popping sound. I am going to read the book twice. The first time I just want you to listen for the /p/ sound. The second time I read, every time you hear the /p/ sound, I want you to pop your fingers out.

8.   Model again how to hear /p/ in words and review how to write the letter.

9.   For assessment, distribute the worksheet that has different pictures on it and a blank place for the students to practice writing upper and lowercase P’s. They are to also identify which images begin with the /p/ sound and write a P under those images.



Assessment worksheet: Initial Sound P worksheet on http://bogglesworldesl.com/alphabet_worksheets/letterP.htm




Kasza, Keiko. The Pig’s Picnic. New York, New York: Puffin, 2001. Print.


Popping Popcorn with P by Kellie Lawrence



Return to the Epiphanies index