EEEEE, a Mouse!

Beginning Reading

By Meg Wilson


Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence ee = /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 ee. They will learn a meaningful representation (when you see a mouse and you shriek “EEEEE!”), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence ee = /E/.



-Graphic image of a woman shrieking and a mouse

-Cover-up critter

-White board Elkonin boxes for modeling

-Individual Elkonin boxes for each student

-Letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic letters for the teacher: s, l, e, e, p, b, d, t, h, r, t, g, q, u,   n, w

-List of spelling words on poster board to read: 2 phonemes- bee; 3 phonemes- seed, three, teeth. leg; 4 phonemes- queen, sweet, sleep; 5 phonemes- street

-Copy of Lee and the Team for every child

-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 e, like pet. Today we are going to learn about long E and when two e’s are next to each other in a word, they make the e say it’s own name (ee = /E/). This is called the long E sound. When I say /E/ I think of seeing a mouse and screaming “EEEEEE!” (show graphic image). Now let’s look at the spelling of /E/ that we will learn today. One-way to spell /E/ is with two e’s that are side by side in a word. (Write ee on the board.) When you see these two e’s together you need to recognize that they make the e say it’s own name.

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 opens and my tongue is behind my bottom teeth like this. (Make vocal gesture for /E/.) I’ll show you first: feet. I heard e say its name and I felt my mouth open and my tongue fall behind my bottom teeth like I was shrieking because I was scared of the mouse. There is a long E in feet. Now I’m going to see if it’s in leg. Hmm, I didn’t hear e say its name and my mouth didn’t make that shrieking face. Now you try. If you hear /E/ say, “EEEEEE, a mouse!” and wave your hands in the air like you are running away. If you don’t hear /E/ say, “That’s not it.” And shake their heads no. Is it in deep, mail, knee, nose, week, lips?

3. What if I want to spell the word sleep? “When I got home from school, I was so tired I went to sleep.” Sleep in this sentence means a state of rest. To spell sleep in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /s//l//E//p/. I need 4 boxes. I heard that /E/ just before the /p/ so I’m going to put ee in the 3rd box. The word starts with /s/, that’s easy; I need an s. Now it gets a little tricky so I’m going to say it slowly, /s//l//E//p/. I think I heard /l/ so I’ll put an l right after the s. I have one empty box now. (Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//l//E//p/.) The missing one is /p/. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. (Display poster with sleep on the top and model reading the word.) I’m going to start with the ee; that part says /E/. Now I am going to put the beginning letters with it: s-l-ee, /slE/. Now I’ll put that chunk with the last sound, /slE-p/. Oh, sleep, like “I am supposed to sleep at night.”

4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for bee. A bee is a yellow and black insect. “I saw a bee on the playground and ran away in fear that it might sting me.” What should go in the first box? (Respond to children’s answers). What goes in the second box? Did you remember that our long E is spelled with two e’s so you need two e’s in your 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 the /E/ and don’t forget to put two e’s that box. Here’s the word: seed, the plant grew from a seed; seed. (Allow children to spell remaining words: 3 phonemes- three, teeth. leg; 4 phonemes- queen, sweet, sleep; 5 phonemes- street)

5. Say: Now I’m 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 spelling and reading words with our new spelling for /E/: ee. Now we are going to read a book called Lee and the Team. This is a story of a boy named Lee. Lee is a baseball coach. Lee’s team is late for the game and they need to run to make it on time. Do you think Lee can lead his team the right way and get them there on time?  Let’s pair up and take turns reading Lee and the Team so that we can find out. (Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages while the teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Lee and the Team 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/ = ee, I want to see how great you are at identifying /E/ in written words. On this worksheet, you have a list of words. Your job is to read the words, and decide which words have /E/ in them. If the word has /E/, then I want you to circle the word. After you have identified all the words that have /E/ in them, I want you to circle the part of the picture that is represented by that word. First, read and circle the words that have /E/ in them, then circle the picture that represents that word. This worksheet can be seatwork while I call each student up individually to read the first 4 pages of Lee and the Team to access for comprehension of the correspondence ee = /E/.




1. Adams, Marilyn. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print- A Summary. Champaign: Center for Study of Reading Research and Education Center, 1990.

2. Murray, Geri. Oh, I didn’t know.

3. How to teach a letterbox lesson

4. Lyle, Amanda. Say Cheese.

5. Cushman, Shelia, and Rona Kornblum. Lee and the Team. Carson: Educational Insights, 1990. Print.


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