Easy Peasy ea


Erika Gam

Beginning Reading Design



After this lesson children will better understand that when the letters e and a are put together they are pronounced /E/, and that this is called a digraph. Children will learn to identify the vowel digraph ea= /E/ in written language through various activities such as listing words that include the digraph, practicing a tongue twister, playing a game of Hangman, etc. 


The Deep Sea  by Matt Sims

Large dry erase board & marker

Individual dry erase board (plastic plates will work) & markers for each student

Pictures of words with ea= /E/ digraph. Pictures: leaf, peach, sea, peas, teapot, steam, seal, meal, speak, and sneakers.

Chart paper containing the tongue twister, "Seals in the sea steal sneakers"

Assessment sheet with pseudowords.


1. Assess the student's prior knowledge of the digraph ea. Ask the students to name some words that have the /E/ phoneme. Write the list on the board.  Most likely, some of the words will contain the ea digraph; if not, include some examples: east, dream, heat, and year. I will single out the words with the ea digraph. "What do you notice about how we can spell /E/?  Do all of these words spell /E/ the same way? (No). Well today we're going to look at this spelling (single out word with ea digraph.)  Sometimes we can spell one phoneme, or sound, like /E/, with two different letters; this is called a digraph.

2. Next I will show the students the tongue twister written on the chart paper, " Seals in the sea steal sneakers." Okay now let's say the tongue twister all together. Now we're going to stretch out the /E/ whenever you see the ea digraph. "Seeeeaaaals in the seeeeaaa steeeeeaaaal sneeeeeaaaakers."

3. "Okay I want to ask you guys some tricky questions and I want you to raise your hand if you know the answer and I will call on you! Each of you will get a chance to answer so if I do not call on you first do not get discouraged." "Do you hear the /E/ sound in each or ever? term or team, sea or sell, clear or clap?

4. We will continue with a lesson similar to a letter box lesson, but it is adapted for whole group instruction.  It will be played like "Hangman" in which each student will be able to guess a phoneme (this is the key difference; instead of representing graphemes, we will be representing phonemes).  Write word blanks and set up the Hangman symbol on the chalk board. Model: "Who has ever played Hangman? (If any students have not, use this modeling experience to fill them in).  We will be playing hangman with some words that have the digraph that we just learned.  Here's how we play: Hmmm I see three blanks, so I know there will be three phonemes in the word.  And the hint is Sea creatures (that's interesting, both of those words have ea=/E/!).  So now I'm going to guess a letter…t (continue with the hangman process until seal is spelled out [s ea l]). Continue with bean (3 phonemes blanks), treat (4 phoneme blanks), leap(3 phoneme blanks), sheath (3 phoneme blanks), beat (3 phoneme blanks), cream (4 phoneme blanks), and ear( 2 phoneme blanks). (Then have students read the list of words).

5. Next, we will go through the pictures of words containing the ea= /E/ digraph. Students will write the word, including the correct spelling on their individual dry erase boards. Pictures can include: leaf, peach, sea, peas, teapot, steam, seal, meal, speak, and sneakers.

7. Students will be divided into partners, preferably pairing strong and weaker readers together for partner reading.  Partner 1 will read a page, while partner 2 stays engaged, asking questions, then vice versa. Before students begin, engage them with a short book talk: Dave and Bill's boat sins, and they are left adrift in the sea in a tiny rowboat.  Let's find out if they can make it to Gull Rock…

8. For the assessment, call students individually to your desk and have them read a list of pseudowords.  Here is a list of ideas: freal, sheaz, deak, breals, veash.


Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms, written by Lloyd Eldredge(1995), published by Prentice Hall, pages 153-154.

Sims, Matt. The Deep Sea, Novato, High Noon Books, 1999, pp1-25.

Wiggins, Lara. "Peaches in the Sea". http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/guides/wigginsbr.html

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