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Emergent Literacy

Popping Bubbles with P

An Emergent Literacy Design by Caroline Rush

This lesson will help children identify /p/, the phoneme represented by P. Students will learn to recognize /p/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (popping bubbles) and the letter symbol P, practice finding /p/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /p/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.
Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Peter picked Polly playing poker"; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss's Hop on Pop; word cards with PIG, PAT, MEET, FIND, PORK, and PENS; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /p/.
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 /p/.  We spell /p/ with letter P.  P looks like a bubble being blown, and /p/ sounds like that bubble popping.

2. Let's pretend to pop the bubble, /p/, /p/, /p/. [Make popping bubble noises] Notice how your lips are? (Pressed together). When we say /p/, we blow air between our top and bottom lip and it sounds like a bubble popping.

3. Let me show you how to find /p/ in the word kept.  I'm going to stretch kept out in super slow motion and listen for the popping bubble.  Kkk-e-e-ept.  Slower: Kkk-e-e-e-ppp-t. There it was!  I felt my lips come together and blow air. I can feel the bubble pop /p/ in kept.

4. Let's try a tongue tickler [on chart]. "Peter picked Polly playing poker." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /p/ at the beginning of the words. "Pppeter pppicked Pppolly ppplaying pppoker." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/p/ eter /p/ icked /p/ olly /p/ laying /p/ oker.

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter P to spell /p/. Capital P looks like a bubble wand with a bubble being blown from it, just a larger version of the lowercase p.  Let's write the lowercase letter p. Start at the fence then go all the way down past the sidewalk into the gutter. Then come back up, a little bit under the fence and draw a curve like a backward c and attach it to the stick. I want to see everybody's p. 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 know: Do you hear /p/ in work or play? Pot or bowl? Up or down? Lift or drop? Stop or freeze? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /p/ in some words. Pop the bubble that is floating in front of you with your pointer finger if you hear /p/: poppy, pillow, bug, play, put, to, the, pink, flowers.

7. Say: "Let's look at Hop on Pop.  Dr. Seuss tells us about many different characters get into silly things with friends and family. Let’s read to see what activities they take part in.  Ask children if they can think of other words with /p/.  Ask them to make up rhymes with p words. Then have each student write their words with invented spelling and draw a picture of it. Display their work.

8. Show PIG and model how to decide if it is pig or dig: The P tells me to pop the bubble, /p/, so this word is ppp-ig, pig.  You try some: POT: pot or hot? PEEL: peel or feel? POND: pond or fond? PORK: fork or pork? PAST: past or last?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with P. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.


Seuss, D. (1963). Hop on Pop. New York: Random House.

Adapted from:
“Dripping Water with P” by Jaime Preston

“Brush Your Teeth with F” By Dr. Bruce Murray

Assessment worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/p-begins2.htm