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Emergent Literacy Design: Pop! Pop! Pop POPCORN!

Rachel Fisher

Emergent Literacy Design


Phoneme awareness is extremely important for each child to develop first in order to learn how to read. Without the ability to identify phonemes, they will be unable to separate sounds in any words. This leaves them unable to sound out new words as well as being able to spell them. In this lesson, students will learn about the phoneme /p/ which is represented by the letter p. A visual representation of the letter as well as a memorable body movement will help them understand and remember the popping /p/. Students will apply this knowledge in phonetic cue reading when they work to distinguish rhyming words according to their initial sound.



×        Picture of a penguin in the shape of the letter P.

×        A tongue tickler written on the board, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," to be shown to the class.

×        Primary paperboards and white board markers - 1 each per child.

×        A marker for the teacher.

×        The Big Book The Pirate and the Penguin by, Patricia Storms.

×        Big cards with the words pig, pop, pants, and pet.

×        Assessment worksheet with a section of pictures (some that start with P).




1.    "Our written language is a secret code with lots of letters. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for the mouth movement we make to have the sounds that we say come out right. Today we are going to work on spotting mouth moves for /p/. The /p/ sound is spelled with a P and looks like a penguin. (Show the picture of the penguin.) When you see me say penguin, you can see my mouth go /p/, like the sound of popcorn popping! This sound is quick like the popcorn popping! "Pop! Pop! Pop!" Can you pop some popcorn with me? Pop! Pop! Pop! Notice how your mouth moves to make the /p/ sound." You curl your lips around your teeth and then pop them out!

2.   "Has anyone ever popped popcorn before? Maybe when you're going to watch a movie? What did it sound like when it popped?" Provide time for children to activate background knowledge. "Now, let's move our hands like they're the popping popcorn. Make fists and then open your hands really fast as we make the /p/ sound and "pop" our popcorn! Notice the shape of your mouth as we do this and see that you curling your lips around your teeth and then popping them out when you make the /p/ sound!

3.   "Let me show you how to find /p/ in the word PET. I'm going to stretch it out so that I can hear the sounds better. Pppppppp-eeeeee-tttttt, ppppppp-eeeee-ttttt. Oh, there it is! I felt my lips curl my lips around my teeth and then POP them out!

4.   "Now let's say a tongue tickler. There are silly sentences that use the same sound over and over again so that we can practice it. (Have the tongue tickler written out on a chart or smartboard.) I'm going to say it first: "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." Let's all say it together three times." After the third time: "Very good. We are going to say it one more time, but this time, let's really pop the popping /p/ and pop out popcorn hands as we say them. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers." 


1.    (Have children get out the primary paperboards and dry erase markers.) "I'm going to show you how to write the P that makes the /p/ sound. Let's start with a capital P." (Demonstrate the strokes on a chart or smartboard.) "First, you start at the rooftop, then straight down to the sidewalk, then pick your marker up and start again at to the rooftop, and make a curve out and back in at the fence. I want you all to try it yourselves while I walk around and check your work. Once I've drawn a happy face on your paper, I want you to write nine more "p's."

2.   Ask questions so that the students can practice identifying the phoneme. "Do you hear the popping p in pull or get? Pig or horse? Peel or skin? Pet or cat? Penguin or bear?"

3.   "Let's see if you can spot our popping p mouth move in this sentence. If you hear it, I want you to pop your popcorn hands." Say slowly: "My pet pig ran around his pen."

4.   "Let's look at a book that has lots of ‘p's’. It's about a Pirate and a Penguin who met each other and find out that they're really different. Let's read to see if they overcome their differences and become friends. While we are reading, I want you to listen carefully and practice your popping P mouth movement when you hear /p/."

5.   (Get out the big cards) I'm going to show you how to decide if this says pig or big. P says /p/. So this word is pppp-iii-ggg, ppp-iii-ggg, PIG!!" Now have the students try: pet or wet? pants or ants? pop or top?



(Hand out worksheet to student) Students are to follow the directions on the worksheet. Directions: Circle the pictures of items that begin with the letter P and fill in the partially completed spellings. Circle pictures of items that begin with P and put an X on the pictures that do not start with a P or make the P sound.



The Pirate and the Penguin, Patricia Storms. Owlkids Books, 2009.

Byers, Kathryn. “Popping P’s With Popcorn!”


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