Brush Your Teeth With F

Bruce Murray

Emergent Literacy


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /f/, the phoneme represented by F. Students will learn to recognize /f/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (brushing teeth) and the letter symbol F, practice finding /f/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /f/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Fred's furry ferret feels frisky"; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with FOG, FIX, MEET, FIND, PORK, and FAKE; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /f/ (URL below).

Procedures: 1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for--the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /f/.  We spell /f/ with letter F.  F looks like a toothbrush, and /f/ sounds like brushing teeth.

2. Let's pretend to brush our teeth, /f/, /f/, /f/. [Pantomime brushing teeth] Notice where your top teeth are? (Touching lower lip). When we say /f/, we blow air between out top teeth and lower lip.

3. Let me show you how to find /f/ in the word left.  I'm going to stretch left out in super slow motion and listen for my toothbrush.  Lll-e-e-eft.  Slower: Lll-e-e-e-fff-t. There it was!  I felt my teeth touch my lip and blow air. I can feel the toothbrush /f/ in left.

4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Fred's furry ferret feels frisky." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /f/ at the beginning of the words. "Fffred's fffurry ffferret fffeels fffrisky." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/f/ red's /f/ urry /f/ erret /f/ eels /f/ risky.

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter F to spell /f/. Capital F looks like a toothbrush.  Let's write the lowercase letter f. Start just below the rooftop. Start to make a little cup in the air, then straighten it out all the way down to the sidewalk. Then cross it at the fence.  I want to see everybody's f. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /f/ in work or fun? finger or toe? on or off? Lift or drop? Stiff or sore? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /f/ in some words. Brush your teeth if you hear /f/: The, funny, furry, bug, flew, far, to, the, pink, flowers.

7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book.  Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with F.  Can you guess?"  Read page 16, drawing out /f/.  Ask children if they can think of other words with /f/.  Ask them to make up a silly creature name like Fiffer-feffer-feff, or Footer-flipper-fang. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly creature. Display their work.

8. Show FOG and model how to decide if it is fog or dog: The F tells me to brush my teeth, /f/, so this word is fff-og, fog.  You try some: FIX: fix or mix? MEET: feet or meet? FIND: find or mind? PORK: fork or pork? FAKE: fake or make?

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet.  Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with F. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.


Reference: Sarah Jane Brock, Fishing Frenzy.

Assessment worksheet:

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