Phonemic Awareness and Alliteration

     One component of Phonemic Awareness is the ability to match sounds to words (Tompkins, 2003).  When a child can hear and identify words that all begin, or end, with the same sound, they are matching words to sounds.  When a poet uses the recurrence of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words it is called alliteration. 

            Alliteration is a key concept that is included in the State Reading Grade Level Expectations (or GLE’s).  The GLE component 2.3 is based on comprehension objectives; however, teaching alliteration as a phonemic awareness skill is equally important.  The lesson presented here emphasizes the phonemic awareness factor of alliteration and can be followed with lessons dealing with the author’s purpose for using alliteration as a literary device.

Title: Use of Alliteration

Literacy Standard:  Understands literary/narrative devices (e.g. alliterative sentences, onomatopoeia) 

Literacy Objective:  The learner will explain alliterative sentences and identify them in a literary/narrative passage.

Materials and Resources:  Class set of poetry books, Faint Frogs Feeling Feverish: and other Terrifically Tantalizing Tongue Twisters (Obligado, 1983), Walking the Bridge of your Nose: Wordplay Rhymes Poems (Rosen, 1995), Sing a Song of Popcorn (de Regniers, Moore, White, Carr, 1988), letter tiles or cards.



  • Before the lesson, write 3 alliterative sentences, or tongue twisters, on chart paper.
  • Invite a few students to try their hand at fluently reading one of the alliterative sentences, or tongue twisters of their choice. 
  • Discuss the term alliteration with the students, working toward identifying the definition.  (The use of the same sound at the beginning of words in a group of words.)
  • Direct students to the book tubs located at each of the students’ tables.  The tubs should be full of poetry books and picture books.  Instruct the students to select a book from the tub at their table to read during Independent Reading time of Readers’ Workshop (Miller, 2002).  Instruct the students to place a sticky-note in their book selection if the he/she should find alliteration, so that he/she may easily find the piece again when it is his/her turn to share with the teacher or class.  The students may also copy the alliteration sentence, or group of words, into his/her journal or reading notebook.


  • Lead a small group in the reading of Oh Say Can You Say (Suess, 1979).d a small group in the reading of Oh Say Can You Say (Seuss, 1979). 
  • Discuss alliteration found in the text. 
  • Instruct the students in the use of the Alliteration Attention worksheet, or graphic organizer.  This will be used to assist in writing a sentence of alliteration. (See Figure 1.1)
  • Let a student select a letter tile or card, from a hat, to use with the worksheet/graphic organizer.  Write the selected letter in the top arrow. 
  • Direct the students in generating words for names, things, actions, and describing words.  Let the students write the words in the appropriate categories. 
  • Starting with the noun category, guide the students in the construction of an alliterative sentence.  Encourage the students to follow this by writing an alliterative sentence of their own, or with a partner.
  • Check for accuracy.


  • Bring all the students back together.  Reread Oh Say Can You Say by Dr. Seuss. 
  • Provide the students with the opportunity to share the alliteration that he/she located in a book, or that he/she wrote in the small group.  After each sharing, have the listening students identify the sound emphasized in the alliteration.

My average third grade students are capable of hearing and recognizing words with the same onset or same ending sound (Kang, 1997).  This is often exhibited in my classroom through our spelling and/or vocabulary word sorts.  My students will create categories for words that start, or end, with the same letter, just about every time.  Therefore, to go beyond simple lists of words, to alliteration sentences/or tongue twisters, is an elementary progression.  Third grade students usually enjoy the silliness and challenge of tongue twisters, and will engage in the activities readily.

      The purpose for selecting a few students to work together in a small group is to help any students that may be struggling with understanding the concept of alliteration.  By brainstorming various words that begin with the same letter or sound, the concept is broken into smaller pieces of information.  By helping the students build alliteration sentences using the smaller pieces, the puzzle is put back together again.  The intent is to help the student see the complete picture and understand alliteration better.

      Assessment can occur as the children share their examples of alliteration found in a text.  For the student in the small group, the assessment will stem from his/her ability to identify the sound emphasized in the alliteration pieces shared by others.  The students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge of the sounds heard at the beginning of the words without seeing the letters in written form (Lyon, 1998). When the children are hearing, and identifying words that all begin or end with the same sound, they are practicing the phonemic awareness skill of matching words to sounds.  They are also learning about alliteration: an important concept for the State Reading Grade Level Expectations for third grade. 


Tompkins, G. E. (2003). Literacy for the 21st Century (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Oligado, L. (1983).  Faint Frogs Feeling Feverish: and Other Terrifically Tantalizing Tongue Twisters.  New York: Harper Collins.

Rosen, M (1995).  Walking the Bridge of Your Nose: Wordplay Rhymes Poems.  New York: Kingfisher.

De Regniers, B., Moore, E., White, M., Carr, J. (1988).  Sing a Song of Popcorn. New York: Scholastic.

*Miller, D. (2002).  Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades. Portland, MA: Stenhouse Publishers.

Seuss, Dr. (1979).  Oh Say Can You Say. New York: Beginner Books.

*Kang, H. (1997).  Phonemic Awareness: Listening activities to Develop Pre-Reading Skills.  Torrance, CA: Fearon Teacher Aids.

Lyon, G. R. (1998). Why Reading is Not a Natural Process. Educational Leadership, 55(6), 14–18.


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