Standard Lesson

Ferocious Fighting Fish: An Ocean Unit Exploring Beginning Word Sounds

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Four 50-minute sessions
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Focus students attention on alliteration, or repeated beginning word sounds, in this unit which explores an ocean theme. Students begin by reading the book Look Who Lives in the Ocean, by Allen Baker, and then sharing what they notice about the words in the story. Then they work as a class to craft a definition of alliteration and record the definition on chart paper. Students continue to expand their knowledge of alliteration by finding examples in classroom books and their own writing and then adding these examples to a class list. Next, they practice revising sentences to include alliteration and then share their revisions with the class. Finally, students compose their own class book to explore the technique in their own writing. The lesson is a natural extension after alphabet books have been introduced, when writing a class book, or to supplement independent writing projects.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

"Writers notice, listen, observe, and think like writers all the time," and this kind of writerly practice is what we need to have our students do according to Lisa Cleaveland and Katie Wood Ray, in About the Authors: Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers (159). In their model of writing workshop, Cleaveland and Ray ask students, "Did you stand on an author's shoulders to write this? If so, whose?" (173). As they answer, students recognize the crafting techniques of the writers who inspire and influence their own work. In this lesson, students explore the craft of authors who have written books that use the circle-plot technique, and then use these books as framing texts that allow them to "apprentice themselves to writers whose work they admire" (172).

This connection between reading works of others and writing their own texts is important for all writers. As Katie Wood Ray reminds us in her Wondrous Words, "None of the other steps [in workshop writing] are worth the effort if they don't end with writers being able to take the crafting techniques back to their own writing when they need them" (126). Every mini-lesson should end with students envisioning a new possibility for their work, by "stand[ing] on an author's shoulders."

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).




Student Objectives

Students will

  • participate in large group sessions, volunteering interesting alliterated word pairs in oral discussions.

  • add ideas to an ongoing class chart with alliterated phrases.

  • add words to class charts devoted to a single letter with an ocean theme.

  • illustrate and dictate or write about ocean creatures using two or more alliterated words.

  • create a page for a class book.

  • assess their efforts using a checklist.

Session One

  1. Read the book, Look Who Lives in the Ocean, by Allen Baker, or a similar book to the class.

  2. Invite students to share what they notice about the words in the story, using discussion questions such as the following:

    • Do the words on each page match in some way?

    • Is there something interesting about the pairs of words?

    • Where to the words with special sounds usually appear? (Typically, there are two words near the end of each page.)

  3. Explain that the term for words with similar beginning sounds is alliteration. Students may ask about words have similar sounding middle parts or end parts. Such words use figurative language, but not alliteration.

  4. As a class, craft your own definition of alliteration, recording the definition on chart paper or the board. Example definitions include "Words in a row beginning with the same letter" and "Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words."

  5. Explain that during this project, the class will add examples of alliteration that they discover in their reading to the chart paper or board. Emphasize that the idea is to find such phrases in their reading and not just to make up phrases. You may find alliteration in any books that you read in class. ABC books and titles are suitable for younger students. More advanced students should be encouraged to find alliterated words in the middle of sentences, which would add description or action.

  6. Using the Sample Books and Activities on Alliteration, share some instances of alliteration from literature and post student-discovered examples on the chart paper or board to give students a better idea of their task.

Session Two

  1. Ask students to share what they have learned so far about alliteration. Their answers can include the definition as well as some of the examples discovered together.

  2. Invite students to explore some books in their classroom to find their own examples of alliteration. To focus the lesson on the ocean unit, be sure to provide books with pictures of whales, fish, and creatures of the ocean, selected from the booklist in addition to books that feature alliteration.

  3. Ask students to recorded examples that they find in their writing notebooks.

  4. Allow the rest of the session as work time, aiding the students in their discoveries.

  5. At the end of the session, ask students to share the examples that they have found and add the phrases to the class list.

Session Three

  1. To connect with the work that they students have done in their reading, explain that the class will be revising some their own writing and adding alliteration.

  2. Ask students to suggest reasons that writers use alliteration. Possible answers include "It makes the writing more interesting" and "It is fun to read the sentences and phrases when the words begin with the same sounds."

  3. Pass out copies of the Guided Practice worksheet or display a transparency of the sheet. Discuss the directions with the students and help them understand what they are to do by demonstrating the process with an example sentence. More experienced students can also use the Independent Revision page and select passages from their own writing to revise.

  4. Use the rest of this session to work on the Guided Practice worksheet individually, in pairs or small groups, or as a whole class.

  5. Allow time for the students to share some of their revisions.

Session Four

  1. When all of the students have had a chance to revise for alliteration, explain that the class will make a book on the ocean that features alliteration, using the online Multigenre Mapper or the printed Template for Younger Students or Older Students.

  2. Ask each student to choose an ocean animal. Work for a range of animals, avoiding repetition if possible.

  3. Explain the process you have chosen for students to use for the class book, following the relevant details below:

    • Pass out copies of the Template for Younger Students or Older Students and explain the worksheet.

    • Demonstrate the Multigenre Mapper and explain how students will use each of the areas of the tool:

      • In Section A, write the name of the subject, the ocean animal each student has chosen.

      • In Section B, brainstorm words related to the subject of Section A.

      • In Section C, write an alliterated sentence about their subject, using some of their brainstormed words.

      • When their writing is done, illustrate their page, using the drawing tools in the Multigenre Mapper.
  4. Provide time for students to work on their page of the class book.

  5. Print the pages when they are completed.


  • For students who show mastery of alliteration, introduce tongue twisters, sentences and sayings that are full of alliteration.

  • A circle activity or morning greeting might be for children to select an ocean animal, plant, or thing, and add alliteration to the middle of sentences about such in turn going around the circle.

  • As morning circle activity, have children use two or three words with the same initial sound to describe something in the room. Each child participating in turn, going around a circle, can call on two people to offer guesses and then tell if the object is not guessed.

  • When students have had ample opportunity to work with alliteration, invite the students to create an Acrostic Poem with words on an ocean theme, or whatever is being studied in class. An acrostic poem uses the letters in a word to begin each line. All lines relate to or describe the main topic word. The online interactive provides example poems and then provides templates for students to use as they write their own original poems.

  • The class as a whole, or individual students, can use the Alphabet Organizer to create an ocean-themed student dictionary or alphabet book. Invite students to brainstorm words to enter (all letters do not have to be represented). The online tool allows students to enter one word, more than one word, or a word and related notes for each letter of the alphabet. The book can be printed and provided to students who would add words in an ongoing basis.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Base your assessments, formal or informal, on your students' needs. Examples include the following:

    • student participation in whole-group discussions.

    • student participation in writing assignments.

    • quality of participation in alliteration discovery.

    • quality of content in student books, especially alliterated sentence.

    • student participation in discussion about their page in the class book.

  • When the class book is completed and published, provide time for the students to share their work with the rest of the class. Invite the students to complete the Self-Assessment Checklist, which prompts students to think about the work that they have accomplished and the steps they have completed.

  • If students print out an online interactive or complete a handout, it could be scored in the usual way. If you choose a more formal assessment strategy, assess students with this following guiding questions:

    • Did the student add comments or write phrases on the alliteration chart?

    • Did the student volunteer appropriate words for the online interactive or printed template?

    • Did the student include appropriate alliteration in the writing projects?

    • Did the student speak up during the school day when alliteration were noticed, other than in writing class

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