Your students may well hear and write the letter S before they can speak it. Lisps and lost teeth can complicate the spoken S, but the ear naturally links the S sound to everything from the hiss of a snake to gas escaping from a sealed container. Use our list of words that start with S for kids and letter S activities to help connect that sound with the letter S in your students' minds.
Despite its relative difficulty as a sound for your youngest learners, S is common enough to occur in many short, simple words they can grasp easily. At this level, the priority is simply to help your students understand the connection between the sound they hear, the shape of the letter and the letter's connection to the word.
Making that sound-symbol connection is the foundation of all future linguistic development. We've developed an easy trace-the-letter activity with that in mind.
As first graders begin to read, they will start to encounter the letter S. We've chosen S words for kids that will reinforce that early reading, either by presenting clear, concrete concepts or by being of very common usage.
All of these words are well suited for letter S activities. Simply passing around a newspaper, magazine or other document and having your students underline the S words is a wonderful activity for actualizing their reading. If you have an advanced enough class, you can even encourage your students to look over the document, pick out an S word they know, and define it.
In second grade, students are more comfortable with their vocabulary words. At the very least, they probably know "second." Use that to your advantage.
We've selected picturesque words for your second graders. Give them art supplies and encourage them to draw a sunrise, a sunset, a boat sailing across the open sea or even tea sloshing out of a cup. That visual cue will provide a permanent anchor for the vocabulary word in their minds.
Again, many of these words will probably be familiar to some of your students through daily use. Not all of them, however. We've picked a selection from both the more common and the more obscure ends of the spectrum, so you're sure to keep your students engaged and keep them confident in their knowledge.
At this age, the visual imagination is very active. Bring in images or show videos of sparks, ocean spray or spiral nebulae. Engage them with the images through storytelling: begin a story of journeying under the ocean or through the stars, then encourage students to add the next sentence containing an S word. As with your second graders, the goal is to link images and stories with S words in your kids' minds.
As of fourth grade, your students should be ready to engage with context and wider meanings of words. At this stage of development, vocabulary moves from being a memorization exercise to a starting point for active, curious literacy.
We chose these words in part as writing prompts. Offer your kids the opportunity to write about "The Sage and Her Spade," or the sorts of scrapes a Spider Spy might get into. Linking that kind of imaginative work to the often less-than-exciting exercise of memorizing vocabulary can help get kids excited about reading.
S is a common letter with uncommon power. By starting your students off with simple lists to memorize, then steadily involving them in more and more creative work, your class will not only gain a fine understanding of the letter S and its associated vocabulary, but also experience the joy and significance of language as a whole.
For more enriching vocabulary and etymology, take a look at our words starting with G! You'll be glad you went with your gut to fill the gaps in your growing lexicon!