Emergent Literacy Lesson



 Sammy the Snake Says… Ssssss

Emergent Literacy Design 

Malorie Hester


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 meaning related representation, or a slithering snake, and the letter /s/ in the phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning to end.



Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with a tongue tickler,  “Sally the snake slithers super slow”. Printed words on cards for the students (sat, sing, list, less, sleep, has); book Some Smug Slug by: Pamela Duncan Edwards and an assessment sheet with writing and pictures of images that display the /s/ sounds, some do and some do not.





1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we are going to work on spotting the slithering snake s in words. We call it the slithering snake s because the sssss sound is the same hissing noise that snakes make. The letter s is also the same shape as a snake. We will now practice writing the letter s.


2. “First, lets make a snake sound, sssss, as we make this sound, let’s draw a snake with out two hands pressed together.” “When we make the ssss sound, we are blowing out air with our teeth closed together.” “Our tongue is touching the roof of our mouths on both sides.”


3. I am going to show you how to find the slithering snake /s/ in the word snake. I am going to stretch out the sounds of the word and make the hand motion, “Sssssss-nnn-a-a-a-a-ke.“ Did you all notice the air coming out of your mouth an that your teeth were closed?


4. “Now lets try our tongue tickler. “[Take out the poster] “Sally the snake slithers super slow”. “Let’s all say it together now. As we do, we are going to stretch the /s/’s this time.” “Sssssssally the sssssnake sssslithers ssssssuper ssssssslow.”  “This time, we are going to break the /s/ off of the word, “S-ally the s-nake s-lithers s-uper s-low”. “


5. {Students will be provided with primary paper and pencils} “To write a capitol 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 going with our pencil and make a backwards c that goes from the fence down to the sidewalk and back up a little.” “Next, we are going to make a lower case s. This is the same as the capitol letter S except it is smaller.” Start by making the c a little below the fence and come down to make the backwards c at the sidewalk just like the capitol S.  “This letter looks just like a snake!” Let’s write ten of each, upper case S and lower case s.


6. The teacher will now call on students to answer aloud and tell how they know. “Do you hear /s/ in sit or kit? Stop or drop? Seal or drill? Map or grass? Teacher: “ Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /s/ in some words. Slither your snake again with your hands when you hear the /s/ sound: The, grass, flip, class, at, read, lost, door.


7. Say: “Let us now read our letter /s/ book, Some Smug Slug.  The smug slug proceeds to climb the steep hill after many of his friends try and change his mind. Will he make it up the hill? Let’s read along and find out. See if you can quietly make our snake motion for words with the s and as we read along. After the reading, allow the students to write an alternate ending to the short story. Let them underline words they write that may have the s sound.


8. Show the word SIT and model how to decide if it is sit or fit: The s tells me to slither like a snake ssss, so the correct word is sssss-i-t. It is now your turn to try some: ding or sing? play or stay? brand or stand?


9. For a student assessment, provide each student with a worksheet.  Students are to complete the worksheet by writing both upper and lower case the letter s as well as identifying images with the s sound if it belongs. As the students work on the assessment sheet, the teacher will work with students one on one to read the phonetic cues from the words list of section #8.




Edwards, Pamela Duncan. Some Smug Slug. HarperCollins. 1998.


Assessment worksheet:




Similar lesson design:

The Slithering Snake Says  Sssss by: Haley Hollis


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