Eee, I'm So Excited!

A Beginning Reading Lesson
Courtney Hillman

This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence ea = /E/. 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 ea. They will learn a meaningful representation (when you’re excited, you scream “Eeee!”) they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence ea = /E/. 

Graphic image of person excited; 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: a, b, c, e, h; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: sneak, sea, team,
lead, beak, heat, leap, and plea; decodable text: The Mean Geese. 


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 E, like pet, and today we are going to learn about long E. When I say /E/ I think of when I get really excited about something, and I scream with excitement! [Show graphic image]. Now let’s look at the spelling of /E/ that we’ll learn today. One way to spell /E/ is with the letters ea. [Write ea on the board.]

2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /E/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /E/ in words, I hear e say its name /E/ and my mouth almost smiles really big when I say /E/. [Make vocal gesture for /E/.] I’ll show you first: eat. I heard e say its name and I felt my mouth get into a wide smile [make a circle motion around wide mouth]. There is a long E in eat. Now I’m going to see if it’s in step. Hmm, I didn’t hear e say its name and my mouth doesn’t make that big smile. Now you try. If you hear /E/ say, “Eee! I’m so excited.” If you don’t hear /E/ say, “Eh, that’s not it.” Is it in bead, map, flea, mean, pull, or deck? [Have children show their big smiles when they hear /E/ in a word.]

3. What if I want to spell the word beach? “If I go to the beach, I may see a crab.” The beach is the place along the ocean. To spell beach in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /b//E//ch/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /E/ just before the /ch/ so I’m going to put an e in the 2nd box. The word starts with /b/, that’s easy; I need a b. Now it gets a little tricky so I’m going to say it slowly, /b//E//ch/. I think I heard /ch/ so I’ll put a c and an h right after the e. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /b//E//ch/.] Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with sneak on the top and model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the ea; that part says /E/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: s-n-ea, /snE/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /snE-k/. Oh, sneak, like “My dog likes to sneak around the table to find food scraps.”

4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for sea. Sea is the ocean or the water that can be by the beach. What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /E/. Here’s the word: team, I have a great soccer team; team. [Allow children to spell remaining words: lead, beak, heat, leap, and plea.]  

5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [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 /E/: ea. Now we are going to read a book called The Mean Geese. This is a story about a cat and dog who encounter some mean geese at a stream. What do you think will happen to the dog when he tried to scare the mean geese? Let’s pair up and take turns reading The Mean Geese to find out what will happen. [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 Mean Geese aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.] 

7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /E/ = ea, I want to see you show your ea skills. [Have time set aside for children to come up individually to the teacher to read The Mean Geese. Note miscues and accuracy. Ask students comprehension questions along the way to be sure they are also grasping the story while reading. While students are reading individually to the teacher, allow the students to read the same story to one another for extra practice.]


Elisabeth Owen, Shrieking E’s:

Murray, G. (2004) The Mean Geese. Reading Genie: 

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