Busy as a Bee
Beginning Reading
Rachel Williams


Rationale:  In order to become fluent readers, children must learn to break the alphabetic code.  After they learn individual phonemes, they are ready to learn digraphs.  This lesson will help children learn to recognize ee=/E/ by spelling and reading words containing ee.

Materials:  Elkonin letterboxes and a set of lower case alphabet letters for each child, list of ee=/E/ words for teacher, list of necessary letters on the chalkboard, The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss.  Letterbox words: bee, see, feet, deep, need, sweep, bleed, sleep.
Necessary letters:  b,d,s,f,t,p,n,w,l,e,e, (e’s taped together)

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that when two vowels are side by side in a word, they make a single mouth move.  “Today we are going to learn the sound that two e's make when they are side by side, so that we can recognize that sound in words.  We will practice by spelling and reading words with ee in them.”
2. When two e’s are together, they say /E/.  Repeat after me:  ee says /E/.  Do you hear /E/ in meet or night? Say or feed?  When you go down a slide, you say “WEEEE!” ee makes that /E/ sound.
3. I’m going to read you a few sentences.  When you hear a word with ee in the middle, clap your hands twice.  If you don’t hear a word with ee, just stay silent.  What does ee say? /E/!
Sample sentences:
a. I see my friend.
b. Are you going to school?
c. Jim is a baseball player.
d. I sleep under the sheets.

4. Now we are going to use our letterboxes to spell words with ee.  Since the two e’s make only one sound when put together, they will both go in the same box.  Spell bee with me.  You spell it out loud as I spell it on the board.  (Teacher draws a letterbox with two squares on the board.  The first box contains b and the second square contains ee.)  Now take out your letterboxes and only the letters I have written on the board.
5. Fold your letterbox so that you have two letterboxes showing for two sounds.  Now spell bee.  Now try see.  (Give them time to finish before writing it on the board.)  Now fold your box where 3 squares are showing.  (Have students spell feet, deep, and need.)  Now change to 4 squares.  (Have students spell sweep, bleed, and sleep.)
6. Put away your letters and letterboxes.  Now read the words as I point to them.  (Students read word list teacher has written on the board.
7. “Now we are going to read The Foot Book.  Before we start, what does ee say? /E/!  Great!”  Each child reads a page and the teacher finishes the book.  Children will be assessed by teacher taking miscue notes as each child reads.

References:  Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. 1999.  The letterbox lesson:  A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

The Reading Genie:  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insights/millsbr.html

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