Emergent Literacy Design:

Telling Time with T

Emergent Reader Lesson Design

Nonie Wilson


Rationale: With this lesson, students will be able to identify the phoneme /t/ represented by the letter “T”. Students will use the meaningful representation of the sound of a ticking clock to recognize /t/ in spoken words, practice finding /t/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness of /t/ in phonetic cue reading to distinguish rhyming words from their beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Telling time takes tons of trial and trouble”; Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman (Book, 2009); drawing paper and crayons; word cards with TAKE, TELL, PLEASE, TURN, SHAKE, and TRUST; My Itsy Bitsy Letter T Book worksheet ; assessment worksheet identifying words that start with the letter T


Procedures:*This is what I will say*

1.      When we read, we are decoding a written language. To help us with our decoding, we can learn what sound each written letter stands for. One way we do this is by practicing the mouth moves we make to create each sound. Today, we are going to practice spotting the mouth move /t/. We spell /t/ with the letter T. T looks like a person with their arms wide open and /t/ sounds like a ticking clock.

2.      Let’s pretend to be the hands of a clock (use my arms to demonstrate the second hand of a clock ticking). With each second that our arm moves, I want us to make the “tick” sound. Do you notice how your mouth movement when you say “tick”? Our front teeth sit right on top of each other and our tongue pushes against the back of our teeth to help us make the /t/ sound.

3.      Let’s use our mouth movements to help us find /t/ in the word “melt”. When I say the word, I’m going to stretch it out in super slow motion and listen for my ticking sound. Ready? Mmmmm-eee-lll-tttt. Alright, let’s try it even slower! Mm-ee-mmmeee-lll-mmmeelll-tttt- mmmeelllttt. There it was! I felt my teeth sit on top of each other and my tongue press against them. I can feel the ticking /t/ in melt.

4.      Now let’s look at the tongue twister on the chart! “Telling time takes tons of trial and tribulation.” Everybody say it three times together. Let’s say it again, but this time let’s stretch out the /t/ at the beginning of each word. Ttttttellling ttttttime tttttakes tttttons of ttttrial and tttttribulation. Let’s try it one last time, but now I want us to break the /t/ off from the rest of the word. /t/ elling /t/ ime /t/ akes /t/ ons of /t/ rial and /t/ ribulation.

5.      (Get out primary paper and pencil.) We use the letter T to spell /t/. The capital T looks like the clock with the second hand at 9, the minute hand at 3, and the hour hand at 6. Let’s try to write a lowercase t. We start at the rooftop and draw a straight line down to the sidewalk. Then, I want you to draw a short, straight line across at the fence. After I check yours and put a happy face, I want you to make 9 more like it.

6.      Now, I want you to raise your hand to tell me which word you hear our ticking clock in. I always want you to tell me how you know it is in the word that you choose. Do you hear it in tomorrow or sail? Talk or make? Otter or office? Matter or minus? Later or lame? Now, I want us all to stand up and make the ticking clock motion if we hear the ticking clock sound in any of the words I say: Tomorrow, Tina will take her time getting to Matt’s house.

7.      Let’s look at our book Creature ABC. Our author tells us about creatures that start with the letter T. (Read “T” page.) Can you guys think of any other animals that start with the letter “T” with our ticking clock sound? I want each of you to think of an animal, draw a picture of it, and spell your animals name with invented spelling! I will hang these up, so make sure to do your best!

8.      (Show take and model how to decide if this is take or make). The T reminds me to make my ticking clock sound, so would this be take or make? Ttttt-aaa-kk-ee, take! Now let’s try some more. TELL: tell or sell? PLEASE: please or plate? TURN: turn or learn? SHAKE: shake or trade? TRUST: trust or shut? This one is tricky!

9.      For extra practice, I want each of you to make your own “Itsy Bitsy Spider Letter T” booklet. I want you to color each picture and practice spelling each word, making sure to use our ticking clock sound, then cut out your book pages and staple them together. 

10.  For our last activity, I want each of you to complete the worksheet I am handing out. First, you will trace the letter T and t at the top of the page. Then, I want you to color each object that starts with the letter t. Underneath the picture, I want you to try to spell each object’s name. While you do that, I will be coming around to each person and having them read some of our words we went over today to me!




1. http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/learning-letters/ib-book-t.htm (Letter T Book)

2. http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/phonics-beginningsounds/letter-t_WFNTM.pdf (assessment)

3. Prof. Murray’s “M...m Good! I say with M” emergent literacy design



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