Let’s Listen to the Hummingbird at the top of M!

Let’s Listen to the Hummingbird at the top of M!


Emergent Literacy Design

By: Charity Glaze

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /m/, the phoneme represented by M. Students will learn to recognize /m/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (visual: mountains; auditory: hummingbird sound) and the letter symbol M. Students will also practice finding /m/ in words and apply phoneme awareness with /m/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from their beginning letters.



  • Primary paper 
  • Pencil 
  • Chart with tongue tickler “Matt made messy meatballs.”
  • Picture of hummingbird/mountain (M)  
  • “The Letter M” worksheet circling words with M (URL below)
  • Lazy Mary predictable book by June Melser (Reference below)
  • Word cards (make, moon, silk, cap ,mice, arm, mat, dad,yum)


Procedures: 1. Say: There are almost 2 million words in the English language and a new word is created almost everyday. Individual letters make up these words and the tricky part is learning what these letters stand for. "Phonemes" mean the way that your mouth moves when you say different words. They all flow together as we speak. Today we are going to work on locating the mouth movement /m/. We spell /m/ with the letter M. It looks like a mountain and sounds like a hummingbird!


2. Say: The hummingbird is the smallest bird. It hovers by beating its wings 50-60 times a second.  That makes a humming sound. Let’s pretend that we are hummingbirds /m/, /m/, /m/. (Gesture: fingers as wings). Notice how your top and bottom lips are stuck together like glue as we hum the letter M.


3. Say: Now let me show you how to find /m/ in the word “swim”. I’m going to stretch swim out in super slow motion and listen for the hummingbird. Sss-w-ii-im. Slower: Sss-ww-i-i-i-immm. There it was! I felt my top and bottom lip glue together to make the humming sound.


4. Say: Now let’s try the tongue tickler [on chart]. “Matt made messy meatballs”. Let’s say it three times together [wait]. Now let’s try saying it again but this time we are going to stretch the /m/ sound at the beginning of the words. “MMMatt mmmade mmmessy mmmeatballs.” Try it again, and this time break the /m/ sound off of the word: “/m/ att /m/ ade/m/ essy /m/ eatballs.


5. Have students take out their primary paper and pencils. Now we are going to use the letter M to spell /m/. Capital M looks like two tall mountains. To write a capital M go down straight, down the slide, up the slide, and down straight. Let’s write the lowercase m. Go down, hump around, hump around. Now I want to see everybody’s m. If you receive a golden star for correctly writing your m I would like for you to write 9 more just like that.


6. I will then call on students to orally provide a correct approximation of the isolated phoneme /m/. I will ask the students how did they know (answer should be something similar to “because I heard the hum sound” or “because my top and bottom lip were glued together”). Do you hear /m/ in more or less? (Say: How did you know that /m/ was in more?) Mean or nice? (How did you know?) Beat or drum? (How did you know?) Arm or leg? (How did you know?) Come or go? (how did you know?) Say: Now let’s see if you can spot the mouth movement /m/ in more words. I want you to flap your fingers like a hummingbird if you hear /m/. The, milk, man, made, cake, from, mostly, milk.


7.  Students will read the predictable book Lazy Mary through shared reading. Say: Now let’s look at our read-together book titled Lazy Mary.  Book talk: “It’s a lazy day for Mary. Mom tries to get Mary out of bed in many ways but Mary continues to moan “No!” Will Mary’s mom come up with a way to get Mary out of bed? or will Mary stay in bed all day? We will read to find out.” Say: After each page I want you to find a word with the /m/ hummingbird sound. Ask students to stop on pages that contain M words and ask students to point out those particular words. Say: Let’s see if our mouth said any hummingbird words after reading that page.


8. Show “MAN” and model how to decide if it is man or can. Let’s see if man has the /m/ sound. The “M” tells me to glue my top and bottom lip together and move my fingers like a hummingbird as I hum /m/. So this word is mmm-an, man. It does have the /m/ sound! Let’s see if CAN has the /m/ sound. Ccc-aaa-nnn, nope, no hummingbird in CAN! My top and bottom lip did not glue together and make the hum sound. Now you try some: MAKE-Make or bake? MOON-moon or soon? CAP-cap or map MAT-mat or cat? SILK-milk or silk? MICE-mice or nice? ARM-arm or leg? DAD-mom or dad? YUM-yum or yuck?


9. For individual assessment, distribute “The Letter M” worksheet. Students will circle all of the items that begin with M and make the /m/ humming sound.





Murray, Bruce. "The Reading Genie." The Reading Genie. N.p., n.d http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie


"Basic Components in a Phoneme Awareness Lesson." Basic Components in a Phoneme Awareness Lesson. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2014. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/componentsPA.html


Murray, Bruce A. "Chapter 6: Learning to Detect Phonemes in Spoken Words." Making Sight Words: Teaching Word Recognition from Phoneme Awareness to Fluency: How to Help Children Read Words Effortlessly without Memorization. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Publications, 2012. 87-111. Print.


Assessment worksheet: 

"Things That Start with M!" Education.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2014. http://www.education.com/worksheet/article/alphabet-phonics-m/

Lazy Mary Predictable Book:

Melser, June, and Judy Shanahan. Lazy Mary. San Diego, CA: Wright Group, 1990. Print.

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