Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Sound Detective

Jane Seevers


Students listen for a particular letter sound and decide whether it is at the beginning, middle or end of a word.


The student understands basic phonetic principles (for example, knows rhyming words; knows words that have the same initial and final sounds; knows which sound is in the beginning, middle, end of a word; blends individual sounds into words).

The student listens for specific information, including sequence of events.

The student counts up to 10 or more objects using verbal names and one-to-one correspondence.

The student reads and writes numerals to 10 or more.


-Small cups, three per child
-Tokens, markers of some kind (dried beans, buttons, bingo markers, etc.)
-Paper and pencil (pattern provided in lesson)
-Word List (for teacher)


1. Label small cups with a 1, 2, or 3 – enough cups so that each child has a set of three
2. Prepare a list of words. These are the words I used:
Net, top, nest, hat, butterfly, tiger, octopus, goat, turkey, kettle, boat, ten, quarter, mitten, touch.
3. Prepare copies of tally sheet( file is in Publisher). If you can’t print the tally , use 8x11 paper cut into quarters. Have the children print their name on their paper and write the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on it.
4. Prepare individual sets of fifteen tokens or you can have children count out the tokens themselves.


1. Review the /t/ sound with a small group of children (no more than six). Ask children to name words they know that have the /t/ sound.
2. Say the word, tall, and ask students if they hear the /t/ at the beginning, middle or end of the word. Say the word, button, and ask the same question. Repeat with the word, rabbit.
3. Continue the review if needed.
4. Give each child three cups: one labeled with a “1”, one labeled with a “2”, and one labeled with a “3”. Have children place the cups in front of them from left to right in the correct numerical order.
5. Tell the children that you are going to say some words. The children are to decide if the /t/ is at the beginning, middle or end of the words.
6. Explain that they are to place a token, in the #1 cup if they hear /t/ at the beginning of a word, the #2 cup if they hear the/t/ in the middle of a word, or the #3 cup if they hear the /t/ at the end of the word.
7. Model examples of words with each letter placement.
8. Give each child 15 tokens.
9. Read each word from your list slowly, giving children time to hear the /t/ and decide where to place their token. Repeat the words when necessary.
10. When all the words have been read and each child has used all their tokens, give each one a Sound Detective tally sheet and have them write their names on it.
11. Have children count the tokens in cup #1 and write their answer beside the #1 on their sheet. Do the same for cups 2 and 3.


Criteria for assessing students:
E – Students identify at least 14 out of 15 sounds correctly
S - Students identify at least 11 out of 15 sounds correctly
N – Students identify at least 8 out of 15 sounds correctly
U – Students identify less than 8 out of 15 sounds correctly


This activity could easily be adapted to a literacy center by using picture cards instead of the teacher saying the words. It could also be used in a listening center if the words were recorded on tape. Much practice in listening for sounds is needed for children to become fluent readers
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