F is for...

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Students will be able to spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.

Big Idea

Coming up with words that begin with /f/ helps students practice their inventive spelling skills.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are on the rug I have them stand on their spots and do washing machine arms to make sure they have enough space around them ready to do an action song. I remind the students they are in control of their body and it will only do what you tell it to do.

I let the students know that we are going to do the ABC Rap by Dance Phonics. I have this song already loaded on my SMARTBoard as it has a nice visual display for my visual learners, while my auditory learners and kinesthetic learners enjoy the dance and music.


The reason I select this song is because I want the students to recall letter sounds when they get ready to do the activity for this lesson. They will need to recall letter sounds while they are trying to find items with the same initial sound.

Once the song is over I have the students resume their seats on the rug. I use my Spot on Your Dot Song to get the students sitting back on their spots ready to learn. 



35 minutes

“This story is called Firefighters A to Z, by Chris L. Demarest. If there is just one name on the cover of the book that means he is what?”

I use the Fair Sticks to select a student to respond to the question.

“You are right Bryan; he is both the author and the illustrator of this book.”

“While we are reading this book I want you to listen closely to the last word you hear in each sentence.”


After reading the first four lines I usually have one or two students who have picked up on the fact that the book is written in rhyme. We discuss which rhymes and we pick out the rhyming words as we go.

During reading we will also discuss vocabulary words we come across. Words like, ventilate, lurch, hauling, zones, etc.

We discuss what it means to be “exiting the bay.” This question is particularly relevant to us because most people here in St. Mary’s County associate the word “bay” with the Chesapeake Bay. So I really need to clarify for the students that the fire engines are not exiting out of our bay. We discuss how words can have two meanings. Bay as in a big roomy area and as a body of water. This comes up again later with the word zip – it can be a noun when naming a jacket zip and it can be an action verb to reflect the speed at which something happens.


Once the story is over I say, “I know we noticed that the author used rhyme when writing this book, did anyone notice what else he used?” I will usually have one or two students notice that the author used the alphabet to write the book. We discuss how the words the author chose to write about had the same beginning sound as the letter of the alphabet.

“What letter does firefighter begin with?”

“Great Ashley it firefighter does begin with the letter f.”

“What sound does the letter f make?”

“Yes Austin the letter f makes the /f/ sound.”

“Today at integrated work stations you are going to find words that have the same beginning sound as the word firefighter. You will find a sheet of paper like this at this work station. Your first job will be to make the book like this.” I show the students how to make the foldable book by folding the paper in half in hamburger style and then in hamburger style again.

I get the fold-able book master from the book Making Alphabet Books to Teach Letters and Sounds by Dorothy P. Hall. ISBN 0-88724-694-X. 

“Now that you have made your book what do you think is the first thing you will do?”

“That is right Justin, you will write your name.”

“Now here is the tricky part. After I read the cover you will notice each page says the same thing.”

I go ahead and read the front cover and then all of the following pages.

“What was written on each page?”

“That’s right, “F is for _____.” So what do you think your next job is?”

“Good work Jonathan, you will be writing words that begin with the letter f and what sound did we decide that made?”

“Great. Can anyone give me an example of a word that has the /f/ sound at the beginning?”

I use the fair sticks to select a student. “Now if wanted to write the word fire how could I go about it?”

We discuss the different strategies and resources we could use such as:

  • tapping out (using your fingers to tap out the sounds that you hear as you slowly say the word)
  • the word wall (looking under the letter f for the words we know)
  • go to the book area to use books
  • ask our friends

I tell the students, “Once you have written your words you will need to draw detailed picture clues for the reader to use to help them decode the words like we do at reading work station time.”


Once I feel the students understand the concept of what is being asked of them I prepare to send them over to the work station tables where they will find pencils, crayons and a copy of the foldable book.

I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some book making fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Give the students about 15 minutes to get this assignment done. Remind the students they can look at the visual timer to check how much time they have left.


Why phonetic spelling?





10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin. 

F is for student sample 1                            F is for student sample 2

Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students that their “exit slip” to get their snack is to tell me one word that has the same beginning sound as firefighter. I tell the students, “Here is the tricky part once a word has been used by another student that word is off the menu (the students know that once I say “off the menu” that word or item is no longer available for use). This means you should have two or three words ready in case someone else says one of the words you wanted to use. So take a minute to think of two or three words in your brain that have the same beginning sound as firefighter.”

I pull out a fair stick to select the first student. The selected student gives me a word and if he/she is successful the student uses the hand sanitizer and then goes to get his/her snack. If he/she is not successful, he/she has two choices. The student can select someone to help or can wait until the end and we can work on finding a word together.

The exit ticket process allows me to see which students have picked up of the concept and those which may need some extra instructional time. Those students who may need extra assistance I will meet with them in a small group setting and play initial sound games with them or use a simple emergent reader.    


10 minutes

For this assignment I would simply place a copy of the student’s work along with the F is for... checklist in his/her portfolio to illustrate whether the student was able to meet the objective or not. 

Call the each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

Have the student look at each item. Ask them to tell you what it is. If they do not know, tell them. “This first picture is a helmet. The second is an ax, the third picture is of a tank and the fourth picture is a mask.” Now tell the student to “tap out” the sounds he/she hears and write down those sounds to label the picture. Place this sample in the student’s working portfolio. Inventive Spelling Checklist 3


Watch and listen to the online book Fire! Fire! by Gail Gibbons

After listening to Gail Gibbons’ Fire! Fire!, students ask questions about how firefighters respond to a fire and answer using key details from the text.