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Emergent Literacy


Yaking away with Y

Taylor Medlock

Rationale: This lesson will help young learners identify the phoneme /y/ represented by the letter Y. Students will be able to identify the phoneme /y/ in spoken words. By using the symbol of antlers on the students head when they hear the sound /y/, they will better be able to pick it out in spoken language. The students will then use a tongue tickler to practice saying the new phoneme. The next activity will include reading the book Extra Yarn and identifying /y/ with the new hand motion every time it is heard. The students will be assessed by a worksheet asking them to practice writing Y, the symbol for/y/.

Materials: Card with picture of yaks, primary pencil and paper, chart paper with Yesterday you yelled in the yard for a yellow yo-yo, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, yellow yarn and construction paper, glue, word cards with YES, YOU, YELL, YUCK, and worksheet for assessment.



1.     Begin by saying, “ Our language has lots of twist and turns, like a secret code. Today we will begin to solve the secret code by learning about the sound/y/. This sound is represented by the letter Y that we see in our alphabet. We are going to pick out this sound by talking like yaks! They make a yyyyaaaaaa sound when they talk. Every time we hear our new sound, we will give ourselves antlers like a yak!

2.     Say, “Let’s pretend we are yaks talking to each other. We will make a yyyaa sound and have our antlers up. How do we move our mouths when we talk like a yak? (Point to top of mouth) the very back of our tongues touch the roof of our mouths. We blow air out from the top of our tongue, lets make the sound one more time!”

3.     Say, “ Now I will show you how to find /y/ in the word yesterday. I am going to stretch yesterday out slowly and listening for the sound of yaks talking! Yyyyyyeeesterrdayyyy  (slower) YYYYYY-eee-ssstt-eeerrr-ddaa-YYYY. . I heard it! My tongue touched the very back of my mouth and out came the sound/y/.

4.     Get out chart: Say, “Now let’s try saying a tongue tickler together  Yesterday you yelled in the yard for a yellow yo-yo . Let’s say it three times slowly, listening for our yaks. Now, lets break off our /y/ from each word.

5.      Have students take our pencils and primary paper. Say, “The letter Y is what we use for the sound/y/. It looks like a V up in the air with a stem on it. Let’s practice writing a lower case y. Go down on a slant, pick up your pencil, slant down, and on into the ditch. I am going to quickly look at everyone’s, when they are correct, I will give you a smiley face. Once you have gotten a smiley face, write nine more just like it!”

6.     Ask students to answer the following questions and tell the class why. Say,” Do you hear /y/ in young or old, yes or no, yell or whisper? Now I need you to look for my mouth making the /y/ sound. Put up your antlers every time you hear /y/. You, yelled, at, the, young, man, yo-yoing. “

7.     Say, “ Now let’s read a book called Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. This story tells us about a little girl who has a very magical secret. What does she have in her box of yarn? We have to read it to find out! Every time we hear the /y/ sound, we are going to put up our antlers. “ Have students make a Y out of yarn on construction paper. Display their work.

8.     Get out word cards. Show students card with YES and model how to decide if the word is YES or LESS. Ask students to identify while others are working on assessment. For you (YOU or LOU), for yell (YELL or SPELL), for yuck ( YUCK or TRUCK).

9.     For assessment, students are to complete worksheet. Students will practice writing Y in upper and lower case forms.  Link for worksheet: Handwriting sheet





Wallach, M.A., & Wallach, L. (1976). Teaching all children to read. Chicago: University of Chicago Press


Related Lesson Yak Lifts Weights!, Michaela Daugherty

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