Setting Purpose: Letters Show Sounds (/t/ is “t”) | EL Education Curriculum

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Setting Purpose: Letters Show Sounds (/t/ is “t”)

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can listen to and act out the events in the Letter Story: "t."
  • Work Time A: I can show letter-sound correspondence for "t." (RF.K.3)
    • I can identify the name of each uppercase letter.
    • I can identify the name of each lowercase letter.
  • Work Time B: I can write vertical lines from the top down and horizontal lines from left to right.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Work Time A. Determine whether they can say the sound for the letter "t" correctly.
  • Observe students during Work Time B. Determine whether they can make vertical lines from the top down (head line to the feet line) and horizontal lines from left to right along the belly line.



1. Opening (5 minutes)

A. Read-aloud: Letter Story: "t"

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. Showing the Sound: The Letter "t"

B. Handwriting: Vertical and Horizontal Lines

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Independent Work Time  (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Preview the Letter Story: "t" to identify parts that can be easily acted out through body language to support student understanding and engagement.
  • Gather materials for independent work rotations (see Independent Work Time).


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • letter, word (L)
  • loosen, seaweed, tern (T)


  • Letter Story: "t" wrapped in colorful paper or placed in a decorative container (wrapping and container are optional) (one for teacher use; see Learning Letters Book)
  • Keyword Picture Card: "t" (laminated; one for teacher use)
  • Whiteboard marker (one for teacher use; optional)
  • Student Name Cards (from Lesson 1; optional in this lesson)
  • Handwriting paper (one per student)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Read-aloud: Letter Story: "t"

  • (Suggested transition song: "ABC Song," sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"):

"A b c d e f g (pause) h i j k l m n o p (pause) q r s (pause) t u v (pause) w x (pause) y and z. These are the letters we use to read and write. (pause) Let's get to know them by sound and by sight."

  • Begin the read-aloud:

1. Teacher explains to students that Anak and Watota want to go out into the world. They want to learn new things and communicate (tell about) what they have seen. Today, they will hear about a unique (different and not well known) animal that the children meet. Over the next few days, they will find out how this animal will help them learn about a letter and a sound.

2. Teacher reads the Letter Story: "t" with expression one time through while students listen.

3. Teacher reads the story again, pausing to use body language and/or commentary to support comprehension and inviting students to chime in during patterns such as "Little boy, little girl, on your journey today, where did you go? How far away? Little boy, little girl. Come sit beside me and tell of the wonders you happened to see."

4. At the end of the story, when Jeffi reveals the picture of the tern, teacher displays the Keyword Picture Card: "t."

  • Consider inviting students to stand and move in a circle while singing the transition song. Model how they can take a step on each letter. When they sing the lyrics "by sound," they can cup their hands behind their ears to illustrate careful listening. When singing the lyrics "by sight," they can make "binoculars" around their eyes with their hands to illustrate careful observing. This will help establish the idea that learning letters involves the shape, name, and sound.
  • Using body language and/or commentary while reading the story aloud supports comprehension of new information and vocabulary. For example, when reading "the dirt path we were walking on started to loosen between our toes," reach down and mime picking up soft dirt and commenting on how walking on it has caused the soil to break up.
  • Consider inviting students to stand in place and make the movements with you while reading aloud. This not only supports comprehension but also appeals to their sense of wonder and involvement in the journey the children take.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Showing the Sound: The Letter "t"

  • (Suggested transition song: "ABC Song," sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"):

"A b c d e f g (pause) h i j k l m n o p (pause) q r s (pause) t u v (pause) w x (pause) y and z. These are the letters we use to read and write. (pause) Let's get to know them by sound and by sight."

  • Introduce the Showing the Sound instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: "The /t/ sound at the beginning of the word 'tern' was shown by this letter hidden in the picture of the tern."

2. Teacher traces a "t" in the image of the tern with a finger or a whiteboard marker.

3. Teacher writes the word "tern" on the board and says: "This is the word 'tern.'"

4. Teacher asks:

"Do you recognize the shape of this first letter?" (just like the shape of the letter hidden in the picture)

5. Teacher says: "This is the letter 't,' and it shows the sound /t/. It is the first letter in the word 'tern,' and it makes the sound /t/, just like the first sound in 'tern.'"

6. Teacher asks:

"Do any of you have /t/ as the first sound in your name?" (If a student does, write their name on the board under the word "tern" and draw students' attention to the fact that the letter "t" shows the /t/ sound in that child's name, just as it did for the word "tern.")

7. If time allows, teacher can consider distributing Student Name Cards (optional) and asking:

"Do any of you have the letter 't' somewhere in your name?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Some students may confuse the word "tern" with "turn." Explain that sometimes two words can sound the same but mean something completely different. Model the word "turn." Explain that the name "tern" for the bird is not connected to the action of turning.

B. Handwriting: Vertical and Horizontal Lines

  • (Suggested transition song: "I'm a Little Teapot"):

"I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle. Here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me shout. Just tip me over. Pour me out."

  • Introduce the Handwriting instructional practice:

1 .Teacher asks:

"Did anybody else notice that the word 'teapot' begins with the sound /t/?"

2. Teacher writes the letter "t" on the board and invites students to describe how it looks. (straight lines, one going straight up and down and the other going straight sideways)

3. Teacher explains that students will skywrite the lines, meaning they will extend their arms out and make the lines.

4. Teacher models skywriting the vertical (straight down) lines: extending the arm and pointing up, and then pulling the arm straight down.

5. Teacher invites students to practice skywriting the vertical lines, emphasizing starting at the top and pulling straight down.

6. Teacher writes the numeral "1" on the far left side of the board and the numeral "2" on the far right.

7. Teacher explains that to skywrite the horizontal (side-to-side) lines, they will point to the number "1" and then move their arms straight across to point to the number "2."

8. Teacher invites students to practice skywriting horizontal lines, emphasizing starting at the "1" (left) and pulling across to the "2."

9. Teacher distributes handwriting paper and invites the students to notice the image of the mouse.

10. Teacher invites the students to put the tip of their finger on the "head line" (top line) and then pull it straight down to the "belly line," and continuing through to the "feet line."

11. Students repeat the process several more times to make vertical lines on their handwriting paper with their fingers.

12. Teacher invites students to put the tip of their fingers on the belly line right next to the mouse and then keep their finger on the belly line while tracing right (away from the image of the mouse) to make horizontal lines.

13. Repeat step 12, this time inviting students to start on the head line and trace horizontal lines with their fingers.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Before moving to Independent Work Time, consider asking one or both of the following questions:

"What is a letter?" (Responses will vary. Examples: "It shows a sound," "It helps write words.")

"What will you do today during Independent Work Time that allows you and your classmates to be successful?" (Responses will vary. Examples: "use kind language," "be careful with materials," "take turns.")

  • To support students' ability to distinguish between a letter and a word, consider asking:

"Can you find a letter somewhere in the room?"

"Can you find a word somewhere in the room?"

"How are they different?" (A letter is by itself; a word has a lot of letters.)

Independent Work Time

Suggested Plan: This first cycle provides time for students to practice what it means to work independently. A brief introduction is made to materials, and expectations for work habits and social interactions are established.

Note: Three suggestions for independent activities are given. Consider using any or all of these. For example, you may want to have all students working on the same activity, or you may want to have two or three activities happening simultaneously for a set time and then rotate students through. By Cycle 2, groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for more details.

Book Browsing:

  • Students spend time looking at their own individual book(s).

Word Work:

  • Students practice making vertical lines using the handwriting paper, starting from the head line and pulling straight down to the feet line.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Handwriting paper (one per student)
    • Pencils (one per student)

Responding to Text:

  • Students draw a picture representing the Letter Story: "t." They should include some details from the story and try to show the "t" hidden in the shape of the tern.
  • The pictures can be displayed in the classroom alongside the picture of the tern used in the whole group lesson.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Blank paper and drawing supplies

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