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Emergent Literacy Design

Growling with R

Emergent Literacy Design 

By: Mary Hope McGehee 


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /r/, the phoneme represented by R.  Students will learn to recognize /r/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (growling like a tiger) and the letter symbol R, practicing finding /r/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /r/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Rex’s Roaring Red Racecar Races”; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Suess’s Miles and Miles of Reptiles; word cards with ROCK, RAT, RUN, RIDE, RED, and RAKE; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /r/ attached.


Procedures: 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 are going to work on spotting the mouth move /r/. We spell /r/ with letter R. R looks like a P with an added leg, and sounds like a tiger growling.


2. Let’s pretend that we are tigers, /r/, /r/, /r/. (Pantomime growling like a tiger with claws) Notice where your teeth are? (Lips pursing, teeth close together, and front teeth push out a little). When we say /r/, we make a sound that goes between our pursed lips and teeth close together.


3. Let me show you how to find /r/ in the word tiger. I’m going to stretch tiger out in super slow motion and listen for my tiger growling. T-II-G-ERRR. Slower: TT-I-I-I-G-ERRRR. There it is! I felt my lips purse out and my teeth close together. I can hear the growl of the tiger in the word tiger.


4. Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart). “Rex’s Roaring Red Racecar Races.” Let’s say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time stretch the /r/ at the beginning of the words. “RRRex’s RRRoaring RRRed RRRacecar RRRaces.” Try it again and this time break it off the word: “/r/ex’s  /r/aoring /r/ed /r/acecar /r/aces.”


5. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil.) We use letter R to spell /r/. Capital R looks like a P with an extra stand. Let’s write the lowercase letter r. Begin at the fence and go down to the sidewalk in a straight line. Then a little go back up to the tip of the line on the fence and make a little c in to air on the right of the line. I want to see everyone’s r’s. 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 knew: Do you hear /r/ in fun or run? Hide or ride? Sock or Rock? Finger or toe? Stiff or Sore? Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /r/ in some words. Put up your claws and growl when you hear /r/: The, raging, lion, ran, past, the, lazy, rhinoceros.


7. Say: “Let’s look at a book about reptiles. Dr. Seuss tells us about all the slimy, creepy creatures we call reptiles. Can you guess of any reptiles’ names that beginning with the letter R? Read drawing out /r/: The T. Rex was strong, with teeth sharp as knives. When most dinos saw him, they ran for their lives! Ask them to think of other animals’ names that beginning with the letter R. Then on their scratch piece of paper they will draw and label with invented spelling the animal they talked about. Display their work.


8. Show ROCK and model how to decide if it is rock or lock: the R tells me to growl like a tiger, /r/, so this word is rrrr-ock, rock.  You try some: RAT: mat or rat? RUN: fun or run? RIDE: hide or ride? RED: fed or red? RAKE: rake or fake?


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





Whole Text: Miles and Miles of Reptiles

By: Dr. Seuss


Explanation for forming the letter R:


Bruce Murrary, Making Sight Words, Rokonkoma, Linus Productions, Inc, Page 294


Assessment Worksheet:



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