Beginning Reading
Mark Gullion
Icky Pig


Beginning readers need to be able to break the alphabetic code in order to learn to read. They need to learn that there are many sounds the mouth makes and they are called phonemes. Children need to understand that letters and phonemes are connected. When they see a letter, they need to be able to identify the sound that letter makes. By learning letter correspondences, they can become more fluent readers. Some of the most important correspondences to teach first concern the short vowels. This lesson will help children identify the correspondence i=/i/. They will learn the sound i makes by learning an insightful representation, and this will help them learn how to better identify /i/ in spoken words. The children will learn to spell and read words with the /i/ sound through the letterbox lesson and by reading a new book.

Card with the letter i; Chart with "The icky pig did a jig with a twig."; Elkonin letterbox set for each child and one Elkonin letterbox for teacher use; laminated lower case letters: d, f, g, h, i, l, m, n, p, r, s, t for each child and teacher; posters with the following words: it, in, tin, fit, pig, him, lid, trip, slid, tilt, strip; Tin Man Fix-It (Educational Insights); assessment sheet with letterboxes [#1-3 boxes (fig), #2-3 boxes (mit), #3-3 boxes (bid), #4-4 boxes (slid), #5-4 boxes (grip)]

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that letters make different sounds and that to become good readers, we need to be able to match letters to their sounds. Today, we are going to learn that the letter i can make the /i/ sound. As you get to know the sound little i makes, you will be able to read and spell many new words.
2. Show the class the letter i. The little i can make the /i/ sound when it is by itself in a word. Can you all make the /i/ sound? /i/. Very good. We sometimes say the /i/ sound when we feel something icky.  Now say /i/. /i/. /i/, that tastes icky!
3. Ask students the following questions and call on them to answer: Do you hear /i/ in tip or mat? Frog or fish? Tin or meal? Kit or net? Nap or ship? Shot or hill?
4. Demonstrate with letterboxes how to spell words. Now, we are going to practice spelling words with the /i/ sound. Each letterbox will have one sound in each box. I am going to spell the word it. [Pronounce it very slowly to class] It helps to say the word to yourself a few times. Iiittt. iiittt. I hear the /i/ sound, so I will put i in the first box. Iiittt. I also hear the /t/ sound, so I will put the t in the 2nd box. Iiittt. It. I heard all the sounds in it. Now letís see if you can spell some words with the /i/ sound.
5. Pass out Elkonin letterboxes to every student. Then pass out the letters each child will need for the letterbox lesson. Now we are going to practice spelling some words with the /i/ sound. See if you can spell in. When you are finished, please raise your hand so I can come around to see your answers. After everyone is finished, select a student to model the spelling on the letterboxes for the whole class. Continue the lesson with the following words: 3 phonemes-(tin, fit, pig, him, lid); 4 phonemes-(trip, slid, tilt); 5 phonemes-(strip). Tell the children how many boxes to use for each group of words.
6. Letís try a tongue twister [on chart]. "The icky pig did a jig with a twig." Everybody say that together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /i/ at the beginning of the words. "The iiicky piiig diiid a jiiig wiiith a twiiig."  Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "The /i/cky p/i/g d/i/d a j/i/g w/i/th a tw/i/g." Good job everyone.
7. Give each student a copy of Tin Man Fix-It. Today you are going to read Tin Man Fix-It. This book is about a boy named Tim and a fix-it man named Jim.  Tim is riding his skateboard when he crashes into Jim on the sidewalk and breaks him. Will Tim be able to fix Jim?  You will have to read the book to find out. Have the children read the book, Tin Man Fix-It, on their own. Then ask the students if they remember any words from the story that have the /i/ sound. Write these words on the board as the children say them.
8. For assessment, give each child a sheet that has letterboxes. The sheet is numbered from 1 to 5, and each number has a certain amount of letterboxes next to it. [#1-3 boxes, #2-3 boxes, #3-3 boxes, #4-4 boxes, #5-4 boxes] Now, I am going to call out 5 words that I want you to spell in the boxes in front of you. Remember each box only has one sound. Number 1: fig, Number 2: mit, Number 3: bid, Number 4: slid, Number 5: grip. The children write in the sounds they hear in the boxes provided for each word they hear. Then, take up the papers to assess understanding of the new correspondence.

Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading
Teacher, 644-650.

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