Kim D. Burns
Emergent Literacy

Ehhh…What’d you say?

Rationale:  In order for children to learn to read and spell words, they need to understand that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  To do this, children first have to identify phonemes and then match letters to phonemes.  Short vowels are probably the toughest phonemes to recognize.  One short vowel this lesson includes is the short e.  This lesson will help children identify the phoneme /e/ (short e).  They will learn to recognize /e/ in spoken words by learning important representation and letter symbol.  They will also practice finding /e/ in words and by singing a song.

Materials:  Poster with “Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo exit the elevator on the elephant;” primary paper and pencil; an elephant stamp; drawing paper and crayons; class set of “Eddie” the puppet sock (I will ask children to bring an old, clean sock from home and we will use these to make the sock puppets; I will also bring some of mine from home for those children who forget); Red Gets Fed (Educational Insights); picture page with web, vest, ant, bell, neck, box, nest, well, bus, fish (pictures are printed off the computer).

Procedures:  1) Introduce the lesson by explaining that our written language is a secret code.  The hard part is learning what the letters represent—the mouth moves we make as we say words.  Today we are going to work on how to find the mouth move /e/.  At first /e/ will be very difficult to spot, but as you get to be familiar with it, you’ll be able to recognize /e/ in all kinds of words.

2) Ask students: Have you ever heard an old man say, “Ehhh…What’d you say?”  Well, when he says /e/, that’s the mouth move we are looking for.  Let’s pretend we are old men and hold our hands up to our ears and say /e/.  /e/…what’d you say?

3) Let’s try a tongue twister [on poster].  “Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo exit the elevator on the elephant.”  Everybody say it three times together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /e/ at the beginning of the words.  “Eeeverybody saw Eeedie and the Eeeskimo eeexit the eeelevator on the eeelephant.”  Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/e/verybody saw /e/ddie and the /e/skimo /e/xit the /e/levator on the /e/lephant.”  Eeexcellent work.

4) [Have students take out primary paper and pencil.]  We use the letter e to spell /e/.  Let’s write it.  Start halfway between the fence and the sidewalk.  Draw a straight line towards the right window and curve up and touch the fence.  Go towards the left window and draw a curve down to the sidewalk.  Go towards the right window with a little curve.  You should finish halfway between where you started the e and the sidewalk.  [Model each instruction given.]  I want to see everybody’s e.  After I put an elephant stamp on it, I want you to make eight more just like it because there are eight letters in elephant.  When you see letter e all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /e/.

5) Ask students the following questions and call on them to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /e/ in yes or noDesk or tableEast or westDry or wet? Best or worst?  [Have students get out “Eddie” the sock puppet].  Say:  Let’s see if our good friend Eddie can spot the mouth move /e/ in some words.  If you hear /e/ in a word, have Eddie open his mouth and say /e/.  If you don’t hear /e/ in a word, keep Eddie’s mouth closed.  [Give words one by one].  Everybody, saw, Eddie, and, the, Eskimo, exit, the, elevator, on, the, elephant.

6) Have students sing a song to the tune of Skip to my Lou.  Say:  Does anybody know the song to Skip to my Lou?  Well, we are going to make up a song to the tune of Skip to my Lou.  It goes like this.  “Who has a word that has an /e/?  Has, has, has an /e/?  Who has a word that has an /e/?  Skip to my Lou, my darling!”  Let’s sing the chorus a couple of times to get the hang of it.  [Sing song two times].  Now, who knows a word that has an /e/?  Let’s all say the word and see if it has an /e/ in it.  If it does, we will sing the song using the word.  For example, elephant is a word that has the /e/ sound, so we would sing, “Elephant is a word that has an /e/, and so on.”  [We will sing the song through about five times].

7) Read Red Gets Fed and talk about the story.  Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /e/.  List their words on the board.  Then have each student draw a picture of their dog or a dog they would like to have and write a message about it using invented spelling.  Display their work.

8) For assessment, give each student a picture page and help students name each picture.  Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names have /e/.

Reference:  Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Developing Phonemic Awareness.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, 1995, pgs. 54-58.

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