Emergent Literacy: Slither Like a Snake With S

Slither Like a Snake With s


Emergent Literacy Design

Jordan Greenberg

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 (slithering like a snake) and 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.


  • Primary paper and a pencil for each student
  • Poster with “Sally sells sea shells on Sundays” written in large print
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book (Random House, 1963)
  • Worksheet with “Big S, little s [what begins with s?]. Silly Sammy Slick sipped __________ and got sick, sick, sick” and blank space for student drawings
  • Assessment worksheet for each student identifying pictures with /s/ (URL below).


1.     Say: Our written language is a secret code. The hard part is learning what sounds each letter stands for – the way our mouth moves when we say words. Today we’re going to work on spotting the move /s/. We spell /s/ with s. S looks like a slithering snake, and /s/ sounds like a snake hissing.

2.     Let’s pretend to slither like a snake, /s/, /s/, /s/. [Pantomime a snake slithering by putting palms together and “slithering” hands back and forth]. Notice where your teeth are? (Point to teeth). When we say /s/, we put our top and bottom teeth together and blow air out between them.

 3.     Let me show you how to find /s/ in the word ask. I’m going to stretch ask out super slow motion and I want you to listen for the snake’s hiss. Aaaa-s-s-s-k. I’ll go even slower this time: aaaaa-ssssssss-k. There it was! I felt my top teeth touch my bottom teeth and blow out air between them. I can hear the snake hissing.

 4.     Let’s try a tongue twister (on the chart). “Sally sells sea shells on Sundays”. Everyone say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /s/ at the beginning and end of the words. “Ssssssally sssssellssss sssssea shellssss on Ssssssundaysssss.” Try it again and this time break the /s/ off the word. “/s/ally /s/ell/s/ /s/ea shell/s/ on /s/unday/s/”.

 5.     (Pass out primary paper and a pencil to each student). We will use letter s to spell /s/. A slithering snake looks like the letter s. Let’s write lowercase s. Start just below the fence. First form a tiny c up in the air between the fence and the sidewalk, then swing back. I will come around to see everyone’s s. After I put a smile on it, I want you make nine more just like it.

 6.     (Call on students to answer and tell how they knew): Do you hear /s/ in see or hear? Fast or slow? Short or tall? Sing or yell? Yes or no? Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Slither your hands like a snake if you hear /s/ in some words: sports, run, small, big, sent, still, flew, set.

 7.     Say: “Let’s look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us a story about a boy who drank too much soda. What do you think happens to him?” Read the s page, drawing out /s/. Ask them to think of something else that begins with s that Sammy Slick might have eaten or drank too much of. Students will receive a worksheet with “Big S, little s [what begins with s?]. Silly Sammy Slick sipped __________ and got sick, sick, sick”. They will fill in the blank with their own food item that begins with s  and use invented spelling to write the name. Then they will draw a picture of what Sammy Slick ate. Teacher will display their work.

 8.     Show SNAKE and model how to decide if it is snake or cake: The s tells me to slither like a snake, /s/, so this word is ssss-nake, snake. You try some: SIT – sit or bit? BEE – bee or see? SACK – pack or sack? FAIL – sail or fail?

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

Assessment worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/s-begins2.htm 

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