Emeregent Literacy

SSSS…The Sneaky Snake
Emergent Literacy Design

Lauren Carter





Rationale: to learn to read and spell words, children need to understand that letters stand for phonemes, and that spelling maps out the phonemes in spoken words. Children must recognize phonemes in spoken words before they can match letters to phonemes. This lesson will help children identify /s/ is S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in a meaningful representation as the sound a snake makes. They will also learn the letter symbol S, practice finding /s/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: white board, dry erase markers, primary paper, pencil, tongue tickler on the white board saying “Sally the sneaky snake slowly puts on socks”, book Six Sleepy Sheep by J. Gordon, word cards with SOCK, FLOCK, SEVEN, ELEVEN, HEAT, SEAT, SAY, BAY, FUN, SUN, identifying pictures with /s/ (URL below) and writing S; snake stickers, worksheet



1.      Say: “Today we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /s/. We spell /s/ with letter S. S looks like a snake, and sounds like a snake hissing.

2.      Let’s pretend to be a hissing snake, /s/, /s/, /s/. (act out a slithering snake that is hissing). Notice where your top teeth are? (touching top teeth). When we say /s/, the tip of the tongue touches below the top and we breathe out.

3.      Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word just. I’m going to stretch just out in super slow motion and listen for my snake. Jjj-u-u-ussst. Slower: Jjj-u-u-u-sssss-ttt. There it was! I felt the tip of my tongue touch below my top teeth and I breathed out. I can feel the hissing /s/ in just.

4.      Let’s try a tongue twister (on board). “Sally the sneaky snake slowly puts on socks.” Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch out the /s/ at the beginning of the words. “Sssssally the sssssneaky sssssnake ssssslowly puts on sssssocks.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/s ally the /s/neaky /s/nake /s/lowly puts on /s/ocks.

5.      Now that we know what /s/ sounds like, we are going to review how to write the letter. (I will then hand our primary paper and pencils). “Students, first form a c up in the air between the rooftop and the fence, and then swing back. Let’s practice a lowercase s: form a tiny c up in the air, and then swing back. I want to see everybody’s s, and once I put a snake sticker on it you can write nine more. 

6.      Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: do you hear /s/ in sun or cloud? Rose or flower? Scream or yell? Basket or bin? Rinse or dry? Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Move your arms around like a slithering snake if you hear /s/: Daisy, toe, mouse, sight, lamp, off, Saturday, cup, snake, pants.

7.      Let’s look at Six Sleepy Sheep. There are six little sheep who are trying everything imaginable to fall asleep, from skipping circles to slurping celery soup. Let’s see what way works best for them to fall asleep.

8.      Show a card with the word Sand and model how to decide if it is sand or hand. The S tells me to hiss like a snake, /s/, so this word is sssss-and, sand. You try some: Sock: Sock or Flock? Seven: Seven or eleven? Seat or heat? Say or bay? Sun or fun?

9.      For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to color in the pictures that begin with s, circling the ones that they hear the slithering /s/ sound in.




(Sally the Snake says “SSSsss”- Sara Warren)



(Brush Your Teeth with F- Bruce Murray)


Gordon, J. Six Sleepy Sheep. New York: Puffin Books. 1991







Click here to return to the Partnership Index