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Beginning Reading Design

Ricky is Icky Inside the Chilly Igloo

Beginning Reading Design

Rationale: Students must become aware of the correspondences between a grapheme, the written letter, and a phoneme, the vocal gesture of that letter. As beginning readers, it is important to give the students ways to connect the grapheme to the phoneme. Students will learn the correspondence i = /i/ in this lesson.  Students will learn to recognize /i/ in oral language by learning a fun and memorable gesture to go along with the sound, recognize i=/i/ in words, practice spelling the /i/ sound with letterboxes, and identify the /i/ sound in written text. 

Materials: Liz is Six- Educational Insights (1990); letter /i/ assessment worksheet; Tongue Twister Poster- “Ricky is icky inside the chilly igloo”; Primary paper and pencils; White paper and crayons; Word list poster with words from letterbox lesson: (it, in, him, wash, rip, hen, win, kiss, trip, fast, chip); plastic letterbox letters: one set for each student and for teacher- Letters needed: a, b, c, e, f, g, h, i, k, m, n, p, r, s, t, w; Posters with the letters Ii and a picture of a woman shaking her hands off.


1.     Begin the lesson by telling the students that they will be learning about the letter i and the sound that it makes. Show the picture of the lady shaking her hands off with the sticky fingers.  Say, “Think of a time when you got something really icky on your hands, and the way you felt.  Whenever I get something sticky on my hands, like Coke, I do this (Model motion while saying “sticky icky”).  Everyone say “sticky icky” with me while you shake the gooey stuff off of your sticky icky hands?  Now can you really stretch out the /i/ sound like this (model shaking) while we say it again?

2.     Sometimes the letter “i” makes the sticky icky sound.  Now, let’s see if you can hear the sticky icky letter “i” in this sentence: Nicky is icky inside the chilly igloo. I’d like you to stretch that sticky icky sound out each time we hear it.  “Ri-i-i-i-c-k-y i-i-i-i-s i-i-i-i-c-k-y i-i-i-i-n-s-i-d-e the c-h-i-i-i-i-l-l-y i-i-i-i-g-l-o-o.”

3.     When I say /i/ my mouth is open and my tongue is slightly lowered.  Now you say /i/ and see if your mouth makes the same movement.  Now I want you to listen for /i/ in the words I call out. Do you hear /i/ in: pig or cat? Walk or hit? Lift or drop? Swap or swim? Small or big? Nose or lip?

4.     Begin the letterbox lesson.  Hand out letterbox letter sets to each student.  First, model how to make a word with a letterbox.  “I am going to spell the first word for you and then you will do it.  I am going to figure out how to spell the words in the same way that I listened for the sounds in the words, by stretching the “i” sound in my mouth.”  For example, the word big. Bbbb-iiiii-gggg. “There are three sounds in the word big. I put the letter b in the first box because I heard /b/ first.  Then, I put the letter i in the second box because the second sound is /i/ and I put the letter g in the third box because /g/ is the last sound in the word big.”  I will then demonstrate for the class how to do a harder word such as stick.  I will model it the same way; stretching my mouth out slowly. 

5.      “Now, you try it!” The students will use their letters and letterboxes to spell some words with the short i sound.  I will assist the students in doing this.  “You are going to start with two boxes.  Spell it. It will be an easy task. (Walk around and check the students spellings.  If they are incorrect, say what they spelt and ask them to spell the word again.) Continue listing the words that the students are to spell: in, him, wash, rip, hen, win, kiss, trip, fast, chip, prince.

6.     Divide students into reading partners. As you are giving instructions, pass out the book to the pairs. “Now we are going to read a book called Liz is Six. In the book, it is Liz’s birthday, and one of her presents is a baseball mitt, which is the same thing as a glove!  Will she be able to use it to win the baseball game or will something go wrong with her new mitt?  We must read the story to find out! Take turns reading the book, one page at a time, to your reading partner.” (Monitor students reading through observation).

7.     “Great job! Now, we are going to complete an activity that will help us remember our sticky icky i.  Pass out white paper and ask the students to get their crayons out.  Have an example to show students.  Then, have the students trace their hands, and draw icky goo dripping from their fingers.  Students will write “i” on the palm of their hand.  Also, have them write words with the /i/ sound.  Provide pictures around the classroom of words that may or may not have the /i/ sound in them, for students who may have trouble discovering words.  While the whole group is working on the activity, pull individuals to the back to work with them in completing a worksheet. 

8.     The students will now complete an assessment. “Now that you have learned about the short /i/ sound, you are going to continue practicing your knowledge with this worksheet.  You are given a picture as well as a few letters from the word. You have to complete the word using the letter i.  Then you will practive writing the short i word.  (Collect worksheets to evaluate individual student progress).


-Liz is Six.  Educational Insights Phonics Readers, 1990.  Short Vowels, Book 5.

- Assessment worksheet:

- Sticky Icky Picture

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