Ellie the Elephant

By: Kimberly Craig


Rationale: Children must be able to identify phonemes in order to become skilled readers.  Short vowels are frequently the most difficult to identify in spoken and written words, so that is an important starting point for learning phonemes.  This lesson specifically works with the /e/ (short e) sound, and the student will learn to read, write and identify the /e/ in spoken and written words by using letterboxes and writing on primary paper. 



Picture of a man that is hard of hearing, saying "Ehhhh??"

Word cards with /e/ words beg, get, hen, egg, send, rest

Word cards with other short vowel sounds cat, pig, got, cup, mad, sick

Copies of "Pen Pals" by Educational Insights

Primary paper and pencils

Word cards with bed, leg, den, get, tent, send, jest, vent, slept, and blend

Letterboxes and letterbox letters (b, d, e, g, j, l, n, p, s, t[2], v)

Worksheet that has pictures with /e/ sounds and some without /e/ sounds

Tongue tickler: "Ellie the Elephant found an excellent egg in the elevator."


1. I will start out telling students that all letters in our alphabet have their own sound.  Some letters, like vowels, can say more than one sound: a short and a long sound.  Then I will introduce our vowel we are working with which is /e/.  I will hold up the card of the hard of hearing man saying "Ehhh?" so the children can see the sound /e/ makes.  Then, I will say, "now I will say what /e/ says by myself.  Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh.  Ok. Now let's do it together. Eeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhh."  They can even hold their hand behind their ear as if they are hard of hearing as well. 

2. Then, I will hold up the tongue twister of Ellie the Elephant.  I will say it on my own first: "Ellie the Elephant found an excellent egg in the elevator."  Then I will have us say it together once before we draw out the /e/ sound while doing the hand motion as if we are hard of hearing.  "EEEEEEEllie the eeeeeeelephant found an eeeeeexcellent eeeeeeeegg in the eeeeeeelevator.  Good job!!"

3. Next, I will work with the kids on how to write the letter e.  I will give them each a pencil and some primary paper.  We will write it once together.  I will instruct them to "start at the middle of the fence, make a straight line, curve up with the pencil to the middle of the fence, and come around as the shape of a half circle and touch the sidewalk and bringing it up a little above the sidewalk to a point."  Then, I will let them write it once on their own and I will come check it.  After I check that the letter e is right, I will have them right two more lines of e's on their primary paper. 

4. Now I will hold up cards that have words with the /e/ sound and some that don't, like beg, get, hen, egg, send, rest, cat, pig, got, cup, mad, sick.  I will have the kids say the words aloud with me stressing the word to see if it has the /e/ sound.  "beeeeeeeeeeg. Yes that has the /e/ sound. Now lets try cat. Caaaaaaat. No that doesn't have the /e/ sound." And so on.

5. Next we will do the letterbox lesson.  I will model for the kids that do not know how to do a letterbox lesson that there is one box for each sound in the words, so words with three sounds have three boxes and so on.  Then I will make the word hen in the letterboxes just to demonstrate what I just explained.  I will say the words alouds (bed, leg, den, get-3; tent, send, jest, vent-4; slept, blend-5) and have them spell it in their letterboxes.  I will make sure to tell them how many boxes to have out in order to make the words.  I will also give each child the same letters so they can make the words.  After they have spelled all the words with the letterboxes, I will have the kids read a list of the words they just made in the letterboxes.

6. Then, we will read Pen Pals and point out every word that has the /e/ sound on each page as we read.  When we say the words with the /e/ sound, we will stress the eeeeeeee sound. First I will do a book talk on the book.  "Ben is playing in his play pen.  His cat, Ted, tries to get in and Ben tries to get out. But, he can't.  What will happen? Will Ben ever get out of his pen to get to Ted?! We will have to read to find out!."

7. The last this we will do is a worksheet I will make (an attach to this lesson design) that has pictures of things that have the /e/ sound and pictures of things that don't.  Kids will circle and color in the pictures that represent things that do have the /e/ sound.  This will assess whether or not the children understood what I taught about short e.



Eddie the Elephant by Lizzie Fain- http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/fainbr.html

"Pen Pals" (Educational Insights, 1990)

  Worksheet for lesson: Short e: /e/

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