Emergent Literacy Design

Licking Lions

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /l/, the phoneme represented by L. They will learn to recognize /l/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (licking sound) and the letter L, practice finding /l/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /l/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Lisa lost the large lemon for the lizard Lenny loved;” drawing paper and crayons, word cards with LOOK, LAB, LEAD, SLAP, SLANT; assessment worksheet (URL below), Michelle Knudsen’s book “The Library Lion”.



1.      Say: Our written language is like a secret code. The hard part is learning what each letter stands for—our mouth moves as we say words. Today we are going to learn how the mouth moves for /l/. We spell /l/ with the letter L. L looks like

2.      We’re going to pretend to lick like a lion, /l/, /l/, /l/. [Pretend to lick water out of an invisible stream] Do you notice how your tongue goes in between your top and bottom teeth and then your mouth opens? That feels just like a lion licking water from a stream!

3.      Let me show you how to find /l/ in the word lick. I am going to watch the lion lick himself clean. Lll-i-i-ck-ck. Okay, now a little bit slower: Lllll-i-i-i-ck-ck-ck. There it was at the beginning! It feels like I am getting ready to lick water from the stream.

4.      Now, let’s try a tongue tickler: “Lisa lost the large lemon for the lizard Lenny loved.” Let’s say it all together. Let’s say it again but this time stretch out the /l/ at the beginning of our words. Llllisa llllost the llllarge llllemon for the llllizard Llllenny lllloved. Great job! Let’s try it again, but this time try and break off the /l/ from the rest of the word. /l/isa /l/ost the /l/arge /l/emon for the /l/izard /l/enny /l/oved.

5.      [Students take a piece of primary paper and pencil] Now we are going to practice writing L for /l/. L is a really simple letter. Just start at the rooftop, make a straight line down to the sidewalk, and then a straight across the sidewalk. Lowercase l is even simpler. All you have to do for it is make a straight line from the rooftop down to the sidewalk. Let’s practice drawing nine of each just like that.

6.      [Call on students and ask how they know] Do you hear /l/ in look or book? Lab or man? Let’s see if we can feel our tongue lick in some words. Lick like a lion if you hear /l/: the, lady, liked, her, lovely, locks, of, hair.

7.      Now we are going to read the book “The Library Lion.” In this book, the librarian has many rules in her library, however, none deal with how to handle a lion coming in. Let’s read the book together to find out what happens with the lion in the library. Next, we are going to have some fun color our own lions. Make sure to be creative!

8.      Show LAB and model how to determine if it is lab or tab: the L makes my tongue lick like a lion, /l/, so this word is lllllab, lab. Now you try some: LEAD, feed or lead? SLAP, slap or snap? SLANT, stand or slant?

9.      For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to use this crossword to follow all of the letter L/l’s to get from the lemon at the top to the hand at the bottom. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.






Dunn, Morgan. “Buzz Like a Bee with Z.”




“The Library Lion”. Knudsen, Michelle. 2009.


Assessment Worksheet: