Yawning Y

An Emergent Literacy Design


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /y/, the phoneme represented by Y.

 Students will learn to recognize /y/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and the letter symbol Y, practice finding /y/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /y/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.



·      Primary paper and pencil

·      Chart with "Yawning Yak at Yoga"

·      Drawing paper and crayons

·      Yes Day! By Amy Rosenthal

·      Word cards with YES, YOUR, STREET, YUCK, FORK, and YAM

·      Assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /y/ (URL below). http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/y-begins1.htm




 1. Say: Our written language is a secret code and we have to figure out what the letters stand for and how our mouth moves when we say these words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /y/. We spell /y/ with letter Y. Y looks like a person in a yoga pose with both arms out.

2. Let's pretend to yoga, /y/, /y/, /y/.  When we say /y/, we press the back of our tongue at the top of our mouth and then pull it down as sound comes out.

3. Let me show you how to find /y/ in the word yawn. I'm going to stretch yawn out in super slow motion and listen for a skier. Yy-aa-ww-nn. Slower: Yyyy-aaaa-wwww-nnn. There it was! I felt the back of my tongue touch the top of my mouth and release. I can feel the yoga /y/ in yawn.

4. Let's try a tongue twister. "Yawning Yak at Yoga." Okay, let’s say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /y/ at the beginning of the words. "Yyyawning yyyyak at yyyyoga." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/y/ awning /y/ ak at /y/ oga.”

5. Students will be given primary paper and a pencil. We use letter Y to spell /y/. Capital Y looks like two ski trails coming together. Let's write the lowercase letter y. Start just below the fence. Start to make a little line at the fence and slant it down to the sidewalk. Then go back up to the fence and make a slant down to the ditch that touches our other slant. I want to see your y. After I check your work and put a star 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 /y/ in work or yuck? yam or toe? on or yes? yarn or drop? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /y/ in some words. Start skiing if you hear /y/: The, yoga, yam, yodel, flew, to, the, yellow, year.

7. Okay we are going to read this book called “Yes Day!” which is about a rare day for a little boy where anything he wants he can have because he is told yes. He can have pizza for breakfast or even a food fight because it is yes day. I wonder what kind of other things this little boy will get into during this story. Let’s read on to find out! As we are reading, I want you to start skiing every time you hear /y/. At the end of the book, have students name two things they would do if it were yes day for them and make sure they write out yes day for extra y practice.

8. Show YUMMY and model how to decide if it is yummy or tummy: The Y tells me it is doing yoga, /y/, so this word is yyyy-ummy, yummy. You try some: YAWN: yawn or dawn? YUCK: yuck or duck?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to connect the pictures that start with y and color the pictures that begin with Y. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Reference: Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case.

Book: http://www.harpercollins.com/9780061152597/yes-day

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

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