Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes - A Phoneme Segmentation Lesson

16 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT use their bodies to tap out and segment words.

Big Idea

Yes - you can learn how to read and spell by tapping on your body! Come find out how.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

     As a teacher, I always like to know the science behind what I'm teaching, and if what I'm teaching is not research-based, I don't teach it anymore.  If you've read some of my other phonemic awareness lessons, you know that children need to practice blending and segmenting every day.  I have another great article that shows how phonemic awareness will help children crack the code when it comes to learning how to read. 

     In this lesson we will be addressing many of the Reading Foundational Standards. When we specifically work on segmenting and blending, we are working on standards RF1.2, RF1.2b, and RF1.2d. There is also a phonics portion to this lesson. As we introduce letters and learn the phonics rules in order to read our words, we address standard RF1.3.  Finally, we will complete a sentence dictation in the lesson.  As students learn the grammatical rules in a sentence, and then learn print concepts associated with reading their sentences, we are addressing standards RF1.1, and RF1.1a.

      You've heard the song "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" before right? We're going to take that idea and use it in our segmenting lesson today.  At the beginning of the year, your students are going to orally segment words with 3 phonemes.  Later in the year they will work up to words with 4 and 5 phonemes.  As the year progresses and the words get longer, all you have to do is add a body part.  Here is a quick reference point for which body parts to use based on the number of phonemes in your word.

  • 2 Phonemes - Head, Toes
  • 3 Phonemes - Head, Waist, Toes
  • 4 Phonemes - Head, Shoulders, Waist, Toes
  • 5 Phonemes - Head, Shoulders, Waist, Knees, Toes

     Once we get to the phonics portion of the lesson you will want to download either the Smartboard Word Tapping and Mapping.notebook or Activboard Word Tapping and Mapping.flipchart template to do tap and map out our words.  You will also want to make enough copies of the student practice papers Phonics Practice Sheet.pdf for each student in your class. If your district hasn't adopted a specific phonics program or there isn't a phonics program to go along with your reading series, I've included two scope and sequences from reading series that I know are Common Core aligned.  You can use these resources to help you determine when you are going to introduce certain phonics skills. You can view them here Phonics_Scope__Sequence.pdf and here Journeys_Scope-Sequence_2014_gradesK-6.pdf.

Sound Automaticity and Modeling Section (I Do)

5 minutes

I always start our phonics lessons by doing a flashcard pack with our sound spelling cards.  I use the sound spelling cards that come with my reading series but if you don't have a set, you can copy this set I found online. I quickly say the letter name, key word, and then the sound.  Then the students repeat after me.  We only work on the sounds that my students haven't mastered. If you walked into my classroom in November, you wouldn't see consonant cards in our stack.  The main reason we do our flashcard pack is to build automaticity in recalling sounds when the students see the grapheme.  If students can recall the sound quickly, they have freed up the "cognitive deskspace" in their mind.  Now, that portion of their brain can focus on comprehension when they read.

Once we've gone through our card pack I said, "I want to show you how we can break a word apart into each sound part.  A sound part is called a phoneme. I am going to say the word gum. There are three phonemes in gum. I will say the first phoneme and touch my head, when I say the second phoneme I will touch my waist, and when I say the third phoneme I will touch my toes.  Then I will ask you what the word is?  I'll say, "Word?" and I'll blend the whole word back together and run my hands from the top of my head to my toes. Watch as I do this. Gum. (gum). /g/ /u/ /m/. Word? - gum!"  After modeling this word I said, " Now we are going to do some words together so everybody stand up!"

You'll notice that I used the exact academic vocabulary with my students as I do use to describe words related to phonological awareness.  I don't shy away from teaching students words such as phonemes, segmenting, and graphemes.  One of the key shifts in Common Core is to make sure students understand academic vocabulary. I want my students to not only be good decoders and spellers, I want them to understand the whole process behind reading, and knowing that academic vocabulary helps to unlock that understanding.

Segmenting Our Words Orally

3 minutes

     After modeling that first word, I had the list of words from my reading series.  Today we were working on words that had the short u sound.  My phonics program has a set of words that we work on each day.  So I took the words that we would be spelling today and we worked on these exact same words phonemically first.  The whole routine took us about 3 minutes to get through and the kids like jumping and hopping around. I worked along with the students so they could see a good model.

     You can get a good idea of how this routine would look in your classroom by watching my class here in this video Head Waist toes.m4v .

Taking It To the Phonics Level

20 minutes

     Now it was time to do the phonics portion of the lesson.  I took the exact same words that we practiced in our phonemic awareness section and we tapped and mapped them out.  My students got out their tokens and practice papers and we mapped and wrote our words.  You can get a better idea of how this process goes by watching this video here Tapping and Mapping Sounds Short U.mp4 .

     After we practiced our words, we spent some time writing our sight words for the week. I again, utilize the words that come with my reading series, and these are usually words that aren't phonetically regular.  

     After we practice our sight words we complete a sentence dictation that utilizes some of the words that we've practiced throughout the lesson.  I have some great strategies that help students to build their working memories and help them to learn how to self monitor their own writing.  You can check these strategies out here Rereading Strategy Short U Words.mp4 .


2 minutes

   I love short and sweet closures.  For our phonemic awareness and phonics lessons I just ask a few questions that will help my students to synthesize the concepts we learned and let the academic vocabulary sink in. I also like to reconnect the process behind what they're doing to the ultimate goal, reading.

   I took some words that we had worked on and had my students refer back to their practice papers.  I said, "Who can tell me how many graphemes are in the word cuff? How many graphemes are in the word gum?  What is the second grapheme in the word huff?" Simple questions like this not only cement students understanding of the academic vocabulary, but they also have a better understanding of the individual components that go into reading and spelling.