Imagine  It

Beginning Reader Design
Jennifer Ruschhaupt



In order for students to become skillful readers they must have phonemic awareness.  Phonemes are the last and most challenging sound units children learn to decipher, it appears after words and syllables (Eldredge, 43).  Recognizing correspondences in words is a trait of fluent reader.  Reading fluency is an important step toward reading comprehension, which is the ultimate goal of reading instruction.  In this lesson, students will learn to recognize the i = /i/ correspondence in written and spoken words. 


Elkonin Boxes (one for each student), Large Elkonin Boxes (teacher set), set of letter manipulatives for each child and a large set for the teacher- i,n,f,t,k,b,r,k,s,p,g,l,m,d, masking tape, Velcro, white board, dry erase markers, primary paper, pencils, worksheet with letterbox words on it among other words without the /i/ sound – [in, fit, kid, tin, brick, spin, skill, gift, crib, slim, script], night, kite, will, write, I, bet, tongue twister (Izzy and Ingrid investigated incredible insects), the book, Imagination and the letter I by Cynthia Klingel and Robert B. Noyed.


  1. Introduce the lesson, Today we are going to imagine that we are detectives and we are going to search for the /i/ sound in words that we hear and words that we see.  The letter I makes two different sounds, I = /I/ like in the word island, and the other is i = /i/ like in imagine.
  2. Let’s practice making the /i/ sound together, I am going to say a tongue twister and I want you to listen and then repeat it with me.  Izzy and Ingrid investigated incredible insects.  Now lets try that together, repeat.  I want you to imagine you are saying a word that starts with the /i/ sound, close your eyes and say a word to yourself.  What is your mouth doing?  Now lets try the tongue twister one last time but this time I want you to say it with me really concentrating on the /i/ sound at the beginning of each word.  I-zzy and I-ngrid I-nvestigated I-ncredible I-nsects.
  3. Have the students place all letter manipulatives face-up (lowercase up) on their desks along with Elkonin boxes.  The teacher should have all oversize letters with Velcro on back leaning against chalkboard so that they are visible to all students.  On the board should be two oversized Elkonin boxes adhered to the board with masking tape so that they may easily be added as the number of sounds per word increases. 
  4. I want you to all make sure that all of your letters are face up on your desk along with 3 Elkonin boxes.  Now watch as I show you what we are going to do with these items.  On the board the teacher should have two Elkonin boxes taped to the board.  Each box stands for a sound in a word, if the word is in, the hat is in the box.   I would look through my letters and search for the /i/ sound, then lets think the word is in, so the next sound is /n/ and here it is!  Now I need to place this sound in the second box, in, good!  I want you all to give this a try, now remember we are all detectives and we are going to investigate the sounds in words that we are hearing.  Go through the list of words for the letterbox portion of the lesson giving a sentence for each word.  Allow students to ask questions and compare with neighbors after they have an answer.  For each word have a student come to the board and place the correct sound in each box using the teachers set. 
  5. You all did a great job! Now I want you to each get out a pencil and I will give you all a piece of paper.  Since we are detectives who investigated the /i/ sound I think we should write about our results so that others will be able to understand the /i/ sound better.  I want you to each write a list of 5 words with the /i/ sound in them.  I will give you about 5 minutes.  For example, I might put igloo as one of  my words, or tin would be another.  Encourage invented spelling.
  6. I am going to give each of you a copy of a book called Imagination and the Letter I, this book shows us the difference between long and short I so that we may be better detectives when investigating.  Read Imagination and the Letter I.
  7. Walk around and collect the papers, and pass out worksheet.   I am going to give you each a worksheet and on it are words, some from our letterbox lesson and several others.  I want you to look at the word and investigate the sounds that are written there and underline the /i/ sound in each word, and if you do not find the /i/ sound in a word move on to the next word and leave it blank.  First, lets do one together.  Do one example with the students, allow 10-15 minutes to complete and then collect for assessment. 


<>Eldredge, J. Loyd. (2005). Teaching Decoding:Why and How 2nd Edition. Upper Saddle

River, NJ: Pearson. Pg. 43. <> Klingel, Cynthia and Noyed, Robert.  2004.  Imagination and the Letter I.  Chanhassen,
        MN: Child’s World. <> 

Wheeler, Emily, “Uncle’s Umbrella” at

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