Turtle Ends With /l/

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Students will be able to know and apply grade level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

Big Idea

Students refine their phoneme segmentation skills as they look for items with the same ending sound as a given word.


10 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 seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students we are going to watch a short video clip of a veterinarian telling us about an animal which happens to be the Maryland state reptile.

Once the video is over I ask the students, “Can anyone tell me the name of the Maryland state reptile?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.

“That’s right Bryan; the Maryland state reptile is the Diamondback Terrapin turtle. Now can anyone tell me why they are called the Diamondback Terrapin turtle?”

I select a student to respond.

“Wow I can tell you were really paying attention to the veterinarian as she was talking. They are called a Diamondback because of the diamond shaped design on their carapace or top shell.”

“Can anyone else tell me something they heard the veterinarian tell us about the Diamondback?”

I take as many responses as it takes to cover the facts the students want to respond with.

“Well there is one statement that the veterinarian made in video which is incorrect. Here is the state of Maryland you need a license to keep a Diamondback Terrapin turtle. You can get a license from the Department of Natural Resources and they will tell you how to properly care for your Diamondback Terrapin.”

“In today’s story you are going to hear about a little girl who followed the correct procedure for taking care of a Diamondback Terrapin here in Maryland.”


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called Turtles in my Sandbox, written by Jennifer Keats Curtis and illustrated by Emanuel Schongut. Would someone like to make a prediction as to what this book is about?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.

“Why do you think the book is going to be about some turtles in a sandbox Avery?”

“Those were great reinforcing ideas; the title tells us that there will be turtles in a sandbox and the illustration supports the title.”

“Let’s go ahead and read our book to see if Avery’s prediction is right.”


During reading we stop and discuss new vocabulary words such as; stubby, hatchling, pellets, aquarium, etc. We review words from previous units such as; predator, prey, etc.


When I have finished reading the book I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug.

Edge of the Rug Song

“Can anyone give me a brief summary of what this book was about?”

I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.

“Thank you Connor; you are right. The book is about a little girl who finds turtle eggs, protects them and then raises the baby turtles which she releases back into the wild after the winter.”

“One of the things I like most about this book is that right here in the back of the book, it tells me exactly what I should do if I find Diamond Back Terrapin eggs so that I can be just like the little girl in the story. It also has a craft which we will be doing at one of integrated work stations.”

“Now can anyone tell me the sound they hear at the end of the word “turtle” (once again I emphasize the last/final sound)?”

I select a student to respond to the question.

“Well done Rachel: I hear the /l/ sound too. Which letter makes that particular sound?”

I select another student to respond.

“Right Adam; it is the letter l. Looking at the title of our book we saw that the word turtle ends in the letter e but listen closely – turtle, do you hear the /e/ sound at the end?”

Most of the students are going to shake their head no.

“Your right; the letter e is silent it does not make a sound. The sound we hear at the end of the word turtle is the /l/ sound made by the letter l.”

“Today at one of your stations I am going to ask you to listen closely to the sound you hear at the end of the word “turtle” (I make sure to emphasize the ending sound).”

While I am saying this to the students I open a blank screen on the SMARTBoard.

“Can anyone give me a word which has the /l/ sound at the end?”

I select several students to respond to make sure the students have a clear understanding of the sound they are listening for. I write their responses on the SMARTBoard so the students can see just how many words we came up with.  

“Those were all great /l/ ending sound words. At one of your work stations today you will find two sheets that look like this (I hold up two sample sheets). As you can see one of these sheets is covered with pictures. It will be your job to find the pictures with the /l/ sound at the end just like our word turtle. Once you find the picture with the same ending sound, you cut it out and glue it onto the recording sheet.”

Ending Sound /l/ like Turtle     Ending sound turtle images

“When you have cut out and glued all of the pictures you think have the /l/ ending sound, you will need to label the pictures using your best tapping out skills. If you have difficulty with tapping out the sounds you can ask a friend at your table to help you.”

Of course I will be sitting at this station to work with students who have may have difficulty; this is a great small group setting with a heterogeneous group which means I can draw on other students to reinforce the lesson I give. I am also there to act as a scribe for my students who are more likely to dictate their responses.

“Can someone repeat the directions back to me so I know what to do?”

I select a student who I know will give me the correct order of directions because I do not want my struggling students to get confused with misinformation.

“Excellent recall back of directions Carson. Now as we know Mrs. Clapp will be suing a checklist to make sure each of you followed the directions as they were given. I will need to see a name on your recording sheet. I need to see at least five pictures of items with the same ending sound as turtle. I need to see an attempt at labeling the items and the work needs to be neat and tidy.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions 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 let’s go have some ending sound 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.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Student gluing images on her turtle paper.          Student gluing images on his turtle paper.

Students working at the ending sound station.           Student explaining her choices.


Students need to learn to hear separate phonemes within words. Direct phonemic instruction can significantly accelerate students reading and writing achievement. Students may be able to read words as a whole, but being able to segment the sounds and then blend them back to together, gives the students a better understanding of the letters and sounds which make up words, which in turn leads to more fluent reading and comprehension.  


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.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

High student sample.           Middle student 1.          Middle student 2.          Low student sample. 

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me a word which has the same ending sound as the word turtle.

“Today’s exit ticket is you have to tell me a word that has the same ending sounds as the word turtle. Remind me, what is the sound I hear at the end of the word turtle (I emphasize the final sound so the students understand the sound I am looking for)?”  

I allow the students to call out the answer, “/l/!”

“Great work team. Now you might want to think of more than one word with the /l/ ending sound because once someone has used that particular word it is…?”

The students are very used to hearing me say this now and will chant back, “Off the menu!”

Off the Menu

“Now I am going to give you about ten seconds to think of your /l/ ending sound words.”

I hold up my arm and look at my watch as I “time” their thinking. I also pretend to be thinking so the students stayed focused on thinking.

“Okay your time is up. I hope you thought carefully because here we go.”  

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with a word together.


Using this easy formative assessment tool gives me an opportunity to see if a student can quickly recall the skill they just used to complete the activity. They have just practiced using their phonetic abilities during the activity so it should not be difficult for the students to respond to this request. However, if a student does have a hard time coming up with a response I will take note because I need to find out if the student had difficulty because he/she has trouble transferring skill use from one activity to another or perhaps he/she was copying peer work at the table and does not have the skill themselves. Knowing the answer to this question will determine how I handle the situation.



At this time of year we have practiced listening to many different sounds within words. I really want the students to be able to isolate sounds and use this skill to help them both decode unknown words in text and help them spell words during our writing activities.

I like to use the practice assessments for phoneme segmentation from Mrs. Frauenhofer’s Site.

I call the students over to me during a time such as free choice center time and just give this quick one minute assessment to see how they are doing at segmenting sounds within words.

I place a copy of the assessment sheet in the student’s folder so I can keep track of his/her progress.  

Evaluating student work.


Students make a Diamond Back Terrapin from a construction paper cutout master. They must use scientific coloring so they have a true representation of the Maryland state reptile. Go to the Arbordale Publishing Website and then click on the Creative Minds link to the right. This will take you to the master for making the Diamondback Terrapin.

Student cutting out his terrapin turtle.     Students working on making a terrapin turtle.     

Student with completed Diamond Back Terrapin turtle. 


Students work on Diamondback Terrapin nest math story problems to practice subtraction skills. An example is, “One Diamondback Terrapin laid ten eggs. On Monday seven of the eggs hatched and the baby turtles left the nest. How many eggs are left?”