“Aye, Aye Captain!”

Beginning Reading Design

By: Ana Eagerton

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence i_e = /I/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling i_e = /I/.  They will learn a meaningful representation (Salute and say “Aye, Aye Captain”), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence i_e = /I/.


 Materials: Graphic image of a kid saluting; cover-up critter; whiteboard or smartboard, Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: h, i, k, e, s, p, n, l, c, r, t, v, k; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: hike, spine, slice, strike, rich, strive; decodable text: “The Nice Mice”, and assessment worksheet.



1.Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel words with i, like bit, and today we are going to learn about long I and the silent e signal that is used to make I say its name, /I/. When I say /I/ I think of a person saluting and saying “Aye, Aye Captain!” [show graphic image].


 2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /I/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /I/ in words, I hear I say its name /I/ and my lower jaw drops and my tongue stays flat. [Make vocal gesture for /I/.] I’ll show you first: time. I heard I say its name and I felt my lower jaw drop and my tongue stayed flat. [Demonstrate mouth movements]. There is a long I in time. Now I’m going to see if it’s in kick?. Hmm, I didn’t hear I say its name and my lower jaw didn’t drop and my tongue did not stay in the same place. Now you try. If you hear /I/ say, “Aye, Aye Captain!” If you don’t hear /I/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in tie, lips, pants, hide, nose, slide? [Have children drop their lower jaw and keep their tongue in the same place to make /I/ say its name.]

3. Say: Now let’s look at the spelling of /I/ that we’ll learn today. One way to spell /I/ is with the letter i and a signal e at the end of the word to tell me to say I’s name. [Write i_e on the board.] This blank line here means there is a consonant after i, and at the end of the word there is a little silent e signal. What if I want to spell the word file? “If I file my paper, my teacher will be happy.” File means to organize in this sentence. To spell file in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /f//I//l/I need 3 boxes. I heard that /I/ just before the /l/ so I’m going to put an i in the 2nd box and the silent e signal outside the last box. The word starts with /f/, that’s easy; I need an f. Now it gets a little tricky so I’m going to say it slowly, /f//I//l/.

4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with three boxes for hike. A hike is when you go walking through the woods. “Our teacher took us on a hike for science today.” What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? What about silent e, did you remember to put it outside the boxes? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need four letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that goes in the first box. Then listen for /I/ and don’t forget to put the signal silent e at the end, outside the boxes. Here’s the word: spine, My spine in is my back; spine. [Allow children to spell words.] Time to check your work. Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board: s – p – i – n—e  and see if you’ve spelled it the same way. Try another with four boxes: slice; I would like a slice of that pie. [Have volunteer spell it in the letterbox on the front board for children to check their work. Repeat this step for each new word.] Next word. Listen to see if this word has /I/ in it before you spell it: rich; The man had a big house because he was rich. Did you need a silent e? Why not? Right, because we don’t hear I say its name. We spell it with our short vowel i. [volunteer spells it on the front board.] Did you remember to spell /ch/ with a ch? Now let’s try 5 phonemes: strive; I will strive to do my best. One more then we’re done with spelling, and this time you need five boxes: strike; if I miss the baseball 3 times, I will get a strike. Remember to stretch it out to get this tough word.

5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled, but first I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with strike on the top and model reading the word.] First I see there’s a silent e on the end; that’s my signal that the vowel will say its name. There’s the vowel i. It must say /I/. I’m going to use a cover-up to get the first part. [Uncover and blend sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.] /s//t/ = /st/ + /r/ = /str/. Now I’m going to blend that with /I/ = /strI/. Now all I need is the end, /k/ = /strIk/. Strike; that’s it. Now it’s your turn, everyone together. [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6. Say: You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /I/: i_e. Now we are going to read a book called The Nice Mice. This is a story of two mice, Mike and Spike who are very nice. Mike and Spike want to take a trip to see some nice sites. Where do you think that Mike and Spike go to see some nice sites?  Let’s pair up and take turns reading The Nice Mice to find out where they go. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads The Nice Mice aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]

7. Say: That was a fun story. Where did Mike and Spike go? Right, they went on a bike ride for 9 miles each day. Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /I/ = i_e, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, we have a crossword puzzle with missing words. Your job is to look at the clues and decide which i_e word fits best to make sense of this crossword puzzle. First try reading all the words in the box, then choose the word that fits best in the space. Reread your answers to see if they make sense. When the students are done with their crossword puzzles I will assess them further by asking them to read a list of words with the long I sound. I will use this to determine if the students need extra help or if they are good to continue on to the next correspondence.


Assessment Worksheet:

“The Nice Mice”-

Elizabeth Bryant’s “Icky Sticky”

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