Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Phonics Through Literature: Learning About the Letter M

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Phonics Through Literature: Learning About the Letter M

Grades K – 1
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Various sessions during a one-week period or longer
Lesson Author

Melissa Weimer

Waterford, Michigan


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Instruction and Activities

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Listen to and read children's books that contain words with the letter m

  • Learn about the sound the letter m makes

  • Learn about words that begin with the letter m

  • Practice writing uppercase and lowercase m and words that begin with the letter m

  • Apply their knowledge of the letter m by contributing to the creation of class books

  • Participate in individual, group, and home learning experiences

  • Express their knowledge of the letter m through creative representation, play, music and movement, talking, reading, and writing

  • Explore some interactive and informational websites about monkeys and the letter m

back to top


Instruction and Activities

This lesson provides a list of activities that can be selected from during the course of the week. Activities are organized into four sections: Introduction, Children's Literature, Letter Study, and Word Study. Each section contains a focused lesson, along with integrated learning centers and activities. The learning centers and activities are intended to actively engage students in interactive experiences to encourage meaningful construction of knowledge. The variety also allows students to participate in the lesson at a level that is appropriate to their individual abilities. Students are able to practice newly acquired skills and display their learning through various means.

Introduction: Mystery Box

Before class, gather a bag of M&Ms, a small box, an index card, chart paper, and markers. Place the M&Ms in the box and write an m on the index card. You may also want to decorate the box with question marks or other artwork and label it as the "Mystery Box." Title the chart paper "Mystery Box Guesses," and list the names of your students in a column on the left.

[Note: You will need to alter this plan if there are students in your class who are allergic to chocolate.]

1. Shake the box and have students listen to the sound it makes. Say, "I wonder what is in this Mystery Box?"

2. Show the index card with the letter m on it and tell students, "The things in the Mystery Box begin with this letter. Who knows what letter this is?" Make sure that all students can recognize the letter m.

3. Allow each student to hold and shake the box and then guess what might be inside. Record each student's guess on the chart paper next to his or her name. Encourage students to help you write some or all of the letters on the chart paper to spell their guesses. The class can also help you spell the guesses as you write them. Use a different color marker to write the letter m or have students go back and circle all of the m's later.

4. After everyone has guessed what might be inside the Mystery Box, tell students, "The things in the Mystery Box taste M'm, M'm good, the same sound that the letter m makes." Open the box and show them the M&Ms. Circle any correct guesses on the chart paper.

5. Pass out a few M&Ms to each student. Have students locate the letter m on the candies and practice saying "M'm, M'm" as they eat them.

Children's Literature

Read aloud Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree by Eileen Christelow. Distribute the Five Little Monkeys Comparison Chart and have students discuss and compare the story elements, including characters, setting, problem, solution, and ending. As you conduct this discussion, help students fill in the chart.

Reading center:
Place fiction and nonfiction books about monkeys in the reading center of the classroom. See the All About Monkeys: Recommended Booklist for titles you can include in your reading center. Encourage students to read these books on their own or to each other.

Writing center:
Encourage students to write their own story about monkeys. Have them use the Five Little Monkeys Comparison Chart and change one thing to create a new story. For example, students can change the characters from monkeys to moose or from Momma to Mary. Challenge them to use words that begin with the letter m in their story.

Technology center:
Have students access the website developed by Eileen Christelow: Author and Illustrator. Students can read a comic strip about the author and learn about her illustrations.

Students can also access The Chunky Monkey Fan Club website to learn about the Chunky Monkey comic strip character. The site includes tips on how to draw the character and other fun activities. Encourage students to create their own drawings and poems about monkeys, then submit them to the Chunky Monkey website.

Art center:
Encourage students to creatively represent the stories that they have read in a form of their choice, such as through drawing, painting, or sculpting. Place photographs and books with monkeys in the art center for children to reference while creating their artwork. Student can use play dough for sculpting monkeys or scenes from the book. You might also add other small items to this area, such as toy beds, trees, and plastic toy monkeys.

Dramatization center:
Copy the Monkey Mask for each student on card stock. Have students decorate and cut the monkey masks out and mount them on tongue depressors. Monkey tails can also be made out of felt, construction paper, or other materials. Invite students to take turns acting out the two stories they have read about monkeys. Students might also work in small groups to act out the stories. Add props to this center, such as a telephone, stethoscope, doctor's outfit, blanket, mats or pillows for a bed, and so on.

Music center:
Use the Monkey Fingerplays to sing and act out the rhymes Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree. Copy these handouts and send them home for students to do with their family.

Math center:
Use The M&M Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, along with the M&M Math sheet to work on mathematical concepts. Place some M&Ms in a small plastic bag and have students estimate how many M&Ms are in the bag, recording their guesses on the M&M Math sheet. Then have students count the actual number in the bag, record the answer on the sheet, and indicate whether their estimate was more, less, or the same as the actual number. Next, have students sort the M&Ms by color and graph their results on the M&M Math sheet. Have student identify which color had the most and least amount. [Note: You will need to alter this plan if there are students in your class who are allergic to chocolate.]

Letter Study

1. Assemble a class book by adding several blank pages following the cover M, M, and More M's!

2. In small groups, encourage students to look through magazines, newspapers, and other print materials to locate examples of the uppercase or lowercase m and pictures of things that begin with the letter m.

3. Have students glue the pictures and m letters they find onto the blank pages of the book. Assist students in writing words next to the pictures they glue on the pages.

Reading center:
Place the "M, M, and More M's" class book in the reading center for continued enjoyment and additions throughout the year.

Art center:
Squeeze some mustard or mayonnaise (two more things that begin with m) on trays. Have students practice writing the uppercase and lowercase m with their fingers in the gooey mess.

Technology center:
To integrate reading, technology, and math, have students read the online children's story Bananas for Lunch and access the interactive game Count the Bananas. This story and game can also be viewed in Spanish.

Writing center:
Use the Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Maker to create a worksheet for students to practice writing uppercase and lowercase m. You can select basic, Denelian, or cursive print, and input letters or words.

Word Study

As preparation for this activity, print out Monkeys Jumping on Things That Begin With the Letter M. Make one copy of the second sheet for each student.

1. As a whole class, have students brainstorm words beginning with the letter m. It may be helpful to have a children's picture dictionary or some picture cards of words that begin with m to guide students in their brainstorming. List the m words on chart paper. Add illustrations to help students remember the words.

2. After the class has come up with several words that begin with the letter m, distribute the second sheet of the class book to each student. Have students create their own page for the book. Each student will need to come up with a word beginning with the letter m to complete the sentence:

"One little monkey jumping on a [object that begins with m]."

3. Allow students to write at their own level. Some may copy a word from the chart paper, while others may be able to select their own word but will need assistance with spelling. Some students may want to write additional sentences for their page. For those who are able, allow them to write independently, while you assist students who require help.

4. When all student pages are complete, assemble them along with the cover to create a class book: "Monkeys Jumping On Things That Begin with the Letter M." Read the book together in class.

Reading center:
Place the classroom book in the reading area for students to read on their own.

[Note: You will need to alter this activity if students in your class are allergic to any of the ingredients in the recipe.]

Follow the Monkey Mix recipe by pouring M&Ms, marshmallows, and banana chips into a large bowl. Invite each student to take a turn mixing the Monkey Mix and then have each student scoop out a cup of the mix and put it in a baggie. Serve the Monkey Mix with milk. As students eat the snack together, reinforce the /m/ sound by saying things such as, "M'm, M'm this Monkey Mix tastes good. M'm, M'm I like to drink milk. M'm is the same sound the letter m makes!" Have student practice making the /m/ sound. Talk about items in the recipe that start with the letter m as they snack.

Art center:
In advance of this activity, ask each student to bring in a photograph of him or herself from home that can be cut. Distribute the Monkeys Jumping on the Bed activity sheet and have students glue a photograph of their face on the monkey, color the picture, and cut it out. Set up a bulletin board, label it as "[number of students in class] Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," and draw a large bed at the bottom. Place the student monkeys on the bulletin board. To reinforce words that begin with the letter m, draw a few things on the bed that begin with the letter m.

Technology center:
Invite students to create an m word crossword puzzle using the online Crossword Puzzle tool. The answers can be words from the class list; students can work in pairs to create clues. Ask students to print and share their puzzles when they are finished. See Creating Puzzles: A Guide for Teachers for more information.

Writing center:
Have students work at home with their families to create a Mom & Me book. On the cover sheet provided, have students fill in their name. In the space at the bottom, students can either draw a picture of themselves with their mom or glue a photograph. On each inside page, have students write one thing that they like to do with their mom and illustrate it with a drawing or photograph. Encourage them to include activities that begin with the letter m. For example, "Me and my mom like to munch on snacks at the movies." Students can highlight the letter m whenever it is used in their book. Encourage parents to work with their child on at least five pages for the "Mom and Me" book. For additional ideas, they can read the book Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer.

back to top



During the course of overseeing these various activities, observe each student's ability to:

  • Participate in listening to and reading books related to the letter m

  • Name a word beginning with m during the Mystery Box activity

  • Be able to recognize the uppercase and lowercase m, find examples for the classroom book, and write both forms

  • Name a word beginning with m when creating the classroom book

  • Make the sound of the letter m and integrate the sound when reading m words

  • Locate and identify words that begin with the letter m

  • Write words that begin with the letter m

  • Express their understanding of the letter m through various means, such as creative representation, drama, music and movement, reading, and writing

  • Explore and interact with websites about monkeys and the letter m


back to top