Using Folk Tales: Vowel Influences on the Letter G

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
One 25- to 35-minute session
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Folk tales and fairy tales are of interest to and part of the language arts curriculum for young learners. This lesson supports the study of this genre and the study of irregular patterns and letter-sound relationships related to decoding and spelling. After reading the folk tale Jack and the Beanstalk, students discuss the word giant and its beginning sound. Students then create their own lists of words that begin with the same sound. Then, students are introduced to words with the soft g sound and create a new list of words with this beginning sound. As a culminating activity, students work individually or in groups to categorize animal names into groups according to their beginning g sound.

From Theory to Practice

  • While consonants are more regular than vowels and more likely to correspond to just one sound, there are times when they do not. The letter g is an example, having both a hard and soft sound.

  • Evidence shows that capable readers and spellers respond to patterns rather than rules, and recognition of these patterns can help students make sense of the English system.

  • All five vowels influence the particular sound that g will have in a word. When followed by e, i (and y), the g tends to have the soft sound, whereas when followed by a, o, and u, the g tends to have the hard sound.

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

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 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).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 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.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 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).

Materials and Technology

  • Jack and the Beanstalk (multiple copies if available)

  • Overhead projector or chart paper



Student Objectives

Students will

  • Listen to and/or read the story Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Recognize and identify words with hard and soft g sounds

  • Categorize words beginning with the letter g by their sound (i.e., hard or soft)

  • Listen to and/or read a story about a giant

Instruction and Activities

1. Read the folk tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. If multiple copies are available, have students follow along or participate in a picture walk or shared reading depending on their ability. Ask students who lived at the top of the beanstalk. Discuss the word giant and its beginning sound.

2. Ask students to name other words beginning with the same sound as the word giant. Create a list of their words on chart paper or overhead (some words should begin with the letter j). Prompt students to name a word in the title of Jack and the Beanstalk that begins with the same sound as giant. Students should respond with the word Jack.

3. Read the words in the list aloud, having students read the words with you or repeat the words after you. Ask students what they notice about the beginning sound and letter of each word? Students should be able to generalize that in these words, the letters j and g have the same sound.

4. Circle the words that begin with the letter g and ask students to help you find clues for why these words have the same sound as the letter j. If necessary, add a few words to the list (e.g., ginger, gentle, general, gym, gypsy) so that you have at least two examples of g followed by e, i, and y.

5. Explain that many words have the soft g sound. Draw students' attention to the letter that follows g in each of the words you have circled. Even if they do not see the similarities, write (and read) the words gang, gap, go, gobble, gum, and gush. Help students to see that when followed by e, i, or y, the g is usually soft and when followed by a, o, or u, the g is usually hard.

6. On a new piece of chart paper or overhead, draw a line down the middle of the sheet making two columns, one marked "Soft g" and the other marked "Hard g." Have students decide which column each g word should go from their initial listing. As you are doing this as a group, you can do some informal assessment by calling on individual students to see if they understand the generalization. If you think students need extra practice, add more words to the list (e.g., gigantic, germ, generous, gymnasium, gas, got, guppy).

7. Arrange students at a computer either as a group or individually, depending on their ability. Direct them to open the bookmarked website, Animal Coloring Pages: G. Ask students to:

  • Find an animal that begins with the letters go and honks (goose).

  • Find an animal that begins with the letters gi and is very tall (giraffe).

  • Find an animal that begins with the letters ga and lives in Africa (gazelle).

  • Find an animal that begins with the letters ge, is small, and looks like a mouse (gerbil).

  • Find an animal that begins with the letters gu and is a bird (gull).
Students do not necessarily have to be able to read all of the words if they understand the generalization. Write the animal words on chart paper or overhead as students find their answers.

8. Distribute one copy of the Hard and Soft g worksheet to each student. Have them put the animal names in the proper columns. You may also ask them to add the words from the previous chart you did together.


  • Have students return to the Animal Coloring Pages: G on the website, Enchanted Learning. Invite them to select one of the animals to paint online (see bottom of screen for instructions on how to copy and paste an animal printout into a painting program). If students are not skilled enough to do this activity online, the picture can be printed and colored with crayons.

  • Have students practice with matching beginning-letter, sounds to images using the Picture Match game. Have them work with the letter g and other letters that have similar patterns like c.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Teacher observation and ongoing assessments during the lesson

  • Hard and Soft g worksheet

  • If students have journals or notebooks, they can be encouraged to use g words in future writing.

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