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Ssssss Says the Slimy Snake

Ssssss Says the Slimy Snake

Emergent Literacy Design

by: Elizabeth Scott

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /s/, the phoneme represented by S. Students will learn to recognize /s/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation by moving their hands in a S shape motion while making a Sssss sound with their tongue. Students will also practice finding /s/ in words and implement phoneme awareness with /s/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning words.


Materials: primary paper, pencil, poster stating tongue twister: The Snake Slithered across the Sandy Seaside, drawing paper and crayons, printed words on cards (sit, slim, sing, past, luck, task, hop, shade); book Six Sleepy Sheep by J. Gordon, and assessment worksheet with identifying picture with /s/.



1. SAY: “Today we are going to learn about a letter in the alphabet and the sound it makes. Words are made up of letters, which represent sounds, and when the sounds are blended together, it makes up a word that has meaning. Today, we are going to try and spot the slimy snake in /s/ words. We will call it the slimy snake /s/ because “Sssss” is the hissing noise that snakes make, and the letter s looks like a snake, doesn’t it? The sound /s/ is represented by the letter s. How about we practice writing the letter s in the air and pretend it is a snake?”


2. SAY: Let’s make a snake motion with our hands, “sssss,” and we are going to draw a S-shape motion or a snake in the air. To make a “Sssss” sound, we need to put our teeth together and blow out air, and our tongue will touch the roof of our mouths on the sides. Now let’s practice the s sound. “


3. SAY: “I am now going to show you how to find the slimy snake in the word snake. Let’s stretch out the word snake and use our hand motion in the air. Here we go, “Sssssss-nnn-a-a-a-ke.” Did you notice that your teeth were closed and air was coming out of your mouth? Now I want you to say it by your self and stretch out the word snake just like I did.”


4. SAY: “Now let’s look at our tongue twister (pull out the poster), ‘The Snake Slithered acroSS the Sandy Seaside.’ Let’s say it together and we are going to stretch out the /s/’s this time. ‘The Sssssnnnaaake Sssslithered acroSssss the Ssssandy SssseaSssside.’ Now we are going to break off the /s/ in each word. Listen to me: ‘The S-nake S-litered across the S-andy S-ea S-ide.’”


5. Supply students with primary paper and a pencil. SAY: “We are now going to write the letter S on our primary paper. For a capital S we are going to start a little bit below the rooftop and make a c that goes to the fence. Then we are going to keep on going to make a backwards c that goes from the fence down to the sidewalk and back up a little bit. Next, we are going to make a lower case s. This is the same as the capital S except it is smaller. Start by making the c a little bit below the fence and come down to make the backwards c at the sidewalk just like the capital S. Doesn’t it look like a curled-up, sleepy snake? Let’s write ten of each, upper case S and lower case s.”


6. Call on students to identify the phoneme /s/ between two words that will be said, and then let them provide a reason of how they knew their answer was right. “Do you hear /s/ in gun or sun? Send or bend? Lay or say? Glass or Mass?” SAY: “Let’s see if you can spot your mouth move /s/ in some of the words. Motion your hands to draw a slimy snake every time your mouth moves to make the sound ‘Ssss’ when you hear /s/ in the words: to, set, says, sea, the, glass, sink, tar.”


7. SAY: “Now let’s read our alphabet book, Six Sleepy Sheep. In this book, they are six sleepy sheep trying to fall asleep, and they all use different ways to fall asleep and all those ways start with /s/. Let’s read to find out what different ways all of the sheep try to fall asleep. (After reading the story)-Does anyone remember one way a sheep tried to fall asleep? Yes, they tried slurping soup, telling stories, singing, and more. Can anyone tell me another way that could help the sheep fall asleep that starts with an S? I want each of you to get out your color paper and crayons and draw the sleeping method that you would think would work best for the sheep to fall asleep. Remember, your word has to start with an S. Show their work.”


8. Show the word SIT. Model how to decide if it is sit or pit. SAY: The S tells me to make the snake sound “Sssss,” so this word is ssss-i-t, sit. Now I want each of you to try SICK: is it sick or pick? SING: sing or ring? SIP: dip or dip? SLAM: glam or slam? ROSS: dock or ross?


9. For assessment, pass out the worksheet. Students are to complete the matching sheet and match the Sailboat S with the pictures that being with S. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



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

Wilson, Haley. “Sssss Says the Slithering Snake.” Emergent Literacy Design by Haley Wilson, Auburn University, Reading Genie Website. http://www.auburn.edu/%7Ehaw0003/wilsonel.htm

Assessment Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/s-begins1.htm

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