Lesson Plan: Silly Sentences
a lesson plan for all learners, with technology options
Grade level(s): K
Subject(s): Language Arts/Reading
NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts*
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
Applying Language Skills
Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Silly sentences is a simple concept that teaches a particular sound/letter combination. You can easily and effectively take this lesson plan and expand on it to develop many other lesson plans by utilizing paper, objects, actions, sounds, etc. This lesson is especially helpful for special needs children who struggle to connect letters and sounds. It provides motor and visual support in teaching that particular sound/letter combination. This lesson uses tactile experience together with the letter sound. Tracing using the shoulder makes it a body-level experience. Read the procedure notes about making sure the textures are strong enough to transmit through the shoulder and body.
Students will make the sound of a given letter.
- In advance... put the letter on the carpet with masking tape. *it must be big enough that they can kneel at the bottom of the letter, reach to the top, and without switching hands trace the letter with object or hand
- objects/pictures that have the initial sound of the letter
- Note cards with words for the objects - add texture to the S with hardened glue or glue/sand
- Pictures for words in your sentence (write the letter on top of each picture)
- Cutouts of the letter
- Volunteers or paraprofessionals to assist in leading small groups
- Set up this arrangement on the floor (for this example, my letter/sound combination will be S):
- Divide the children into small groups (5 or fewer would be best for typical children, 3 if special needs). *Note: This activity could be done in pull-out groups just as effectively to support individualized learning.
- Group leader should first demonstrate the activity, pointing to each step she does and going slowly enough so everyone understands.
- Ask the child what the letter is; reinforce letter and sound. Using a spoon (flipped over or on its side to provide resistance), have the child kneel at the bottom of the letter, start at the top --with his dominant hand and without switching hands-- have him trace the letter and say the /s/ sound all the way down. *Trace using an object and texture that will give some resistance on the letter; a laminated picture or smooth floor will not provide necessary resistance, for example. NOTE that the child is using his shoulder to write the letter (reinforcing letter writing at a body level) which is better felt with resistance.
- Turn the child’s attention to the note cards. Guide them through the silly sentence. Emphasize the letter ‘s’ and its sound in each word. Have the child trace the textured "S" on each card while saying the sound, to reinforce it tacitly.
- Give each child a turn. Have a few extra words/pictures on hand to challenge them. For instance, for the S example, have words like “sink,” “sun,” and “spills.”
- When repeating with other letters, make sure if you choose a letter that has at least two sounds that you only use one of the sounds consistently throughout the lesson. Do a separate lesson for each letter-sound combination.
- Leave this lesson out for the children to explore on their own as a center or individual time activity. Have the children trace the S on the floor or on the note cards (attach the pictures to the note card). Challenge them to make silly sentences during the time they work with peers.
Depending on the level of your students, keep a checklist to check skills with each letter/sound during the activity (does the child need lots of prompting to say the sound and letter, minimal prompting, or none at all) and/or wait and assess with a few more letters.
Technology options and tips:
- Create your "cards" in a word processing program such as Word, using word art or this TeachersFirst template to create heavy lettering. Laminate them in full pages , then cut the sheets apart using a paper cutter to save time.
- Take digital pictures with your students, featuring objects for the letter you will be studying. Have students help to hold objects and take pictures. Print out and laminate, but keep the computer files for the same pictures to use in an interactive whiteboard lesson, dragging pictures, letters, and words into silly sentences on the whiteboard. This will provide a consistent experience to reinforce the letter sounds.
*Standards for the English Language Arts, by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, Copyright 1996 by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission.