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Emergent Literacy Design: Breathe Like a Dog With "H"

Breathe like a dog with H

Emergent Literacy Design

Jacquelyn Johnson

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /h/, the phoneme represented by H. Students will learn to recognize /h/ in spoken words by learning how their mouth moves when you are “huffing and puffing for breath” and they will learn the letter symbol H. Students will practice finding /h/ in words, point out objects that starts with /h/, and read a piece of literature that will help them learn both the phoneme and letter symbol for H.


Materials: Primary paper, pencil, Hilda Hen’s Happy Birthday (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1995); poster with tongue tickler “Harry had a horrible headache and hated to hear Henry howl.”, assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /h/, word cards (index cards) with the words HAM, HUG, BOOK, HAND, FAIR, HIPPO.



1.     Say: “The tricky part to our written language is learning what letters stand for. Today we are going to learn about the letter H. We ar going to focus on the way our mouth moves when we pronounce the letter H, /h/. Imagine that you have been running and jumping for a long time and you are tired and out of breathe. The sound that you make when you are “huffing and puffing” for air when you are tired makes the /h/ sound; like the panting noise that a dog makes after it has been playing outside. Another way to makes the /h/ sound is by breathing into a cupped hand over your mouth.”

2.     “Let’s practice making the /h/ sound. I want everyone to pretend that they are a dog that has just come in from running on a hot summer day, /h/ /h/ /h/ (mouth opened breathing heavily). Notice that your mouth is opened and as you breathe out the /h/ sound forms. Another way to make the /h/ sound is by cupping you hand to your mouth and breathing. Try it with me!”

3.   “Let me model how you would find /h/ in the word hot. I am going to stretch out the word hot very slowly and I want you to listen very carefully for our panting dog sound /h/. hhhh-ooo-ttt. Slower: hhhhh-oooo-tttt. There it was! Did you find it? I could feel my breath leaving my mouth with that first part of the word. I can hear the panting dog /h/ in hot.

4.   Now let’s try a tongue tickler (on board). “Harry had a horrible headache and hated to hear Henry howl.” I want everyone to say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /h/ at the beginning of the words. “Hhhharry hhhad a hhhorrible hhheadache and hhhated to hhhear Hhhenry hhhowl.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word” /h/arry /h/ad a /h/orrible /h/eadache and /h/ated to /h/ear /h/enry /h/owl.

5.    (Have students take out primary paper and a pencil) Now let’s go over how to use the letter H to spell /h/. An uppercase H looks like part of a train track. To write it, go down from the rooftop to the sidewalk make a straight line. Then move over a little space and draw another line from the rooftop to the sidewalk and then connect the two lines through the fence. Now let’s write the lowercase letter h. Draw a line from the rooftop down to the sidewalk then from the sidewalk hop back up towards the fence and curve back down to the sidewalk. I want to see everyone’s h. After I put a sticker on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.

6.     Call on students to answer the questions and have them tell how they knew the answer was correct: “Do you hear /h/ in hat or cat? ( I will model how to decide if it is hat or cat) Pair or hair? Lamp or hunt? Helmet or racket? Let’s see if you can spot the mouth movement of /h/ in some words. Breathe like a dog trying to catch its breath if you hear /h/ in: Henry saw a happy horse in the huge, blue house.”

7.     Say: “Let’s look at our alphabet book, Hilda Hen’s Happy Birthday. Listen carefully and breathe hard like a dog when you hear /h/ while I read the book aloud. In this book, Hilda the hen is excited about her birthday and tells herself that she keeps finding gifts from other animals as she walks across the barnyard. But little does she know, these gifts she is finding aren’t really gifts from other animals causing a lot of commotion in the yard. Let’s read to find out what the animals are going to do with Hilda the hen who is stealing her own birthday gifts!” After the read aloud say: “What were some of the words made the /h/ sound in the story that stuck out to you?” “Can you think of any other animals that start with the /h/ sound? I want each of you to draw a picture of that animal and under the picture right the name of the animal in your best handwriting remembering the steps of how to write the letter.”

8.     Show HOT and model how to decide if it is hot or dot. The H tells me to breathe like a dog catching its breath, /h/, so this word is hhh-ot, hot. You try some: HUG: mug or hug? BOOK: hook or book? HAND: hand or land? FAIR: fair or hair? HEART: tart or heart?

9.     For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to write upper case and lower case H in the space provided and color the pictures that begin with H. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.




Audredy Leach: H-h-op it Out and Run!


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