Let’s Help the E out!


Beginning Reading

       Dorsey Tippett



Rationale:  It is important for beginning readers to become aware of phonemes in words in order to know the sounds each letter makes.  A phoneme is the vocal gesture found in spoken words.  The most difficult phonemes for children to recognize are vowels.  This lesson will provide practice in spelling and reading the vowel e = /e/.


Materials: dry erase board, markers for board, sentence strip with tongue twister on it (Every egg is on the bed), primary paper, pencils, a copy of the decodable book, Pen Pals, for every student, Elkonin boxes for every student, letter manipulatives for every student (e, d, b , t, n, c, k , x, p, l, r), Elkonin boxes with magnets on back to put on board, letter manipulatives with velcro and magnets to put on board (e, d, b, t, n ,c, k, x, p, l, r)



  1. I would introduce the lesson by saying, “Today we are going to do a letterbox lesson.  The letterboxes will help us see the different sounds in words and the spellings are maps of those sounds.  When you learn the secret code of the way words are written then it will become easier to read and remember words. So, now we are going to learn the short vowel e. The e makes the /e/ sound. For example, here is the word pet (spell pet in the three letterboxes on the board). This words makes the /e/ sound like a creaky door when it opens, /e/ (do the hand motion with the sounds). Think about the way your mouth moves when you say /e/. Can you make your mouth move when you say /e/, like a creaky door?  Good job!
  2. Introduce the tongue twister.  Hold up the tongue twister on a sentence strip.  “Okay, I am going to read the sentence once and then I want you to read it with me.  Every egg is on the bed.  Great job!  Now, I want you to do the hand motions as we make the creaky door sound, remember to drag out that /e/ sound.  Eeevery eeegg is on the beeed.  Way to go!
  3. Ask the students questions about which words have the /e/ in spoken words.  I am going to read you two words and I want you to tell me which words have the /e/ sound in it.  For example, do you hear /e/ in bed or mat?  bed, good job!  Let’s start.  Do you hear /e/ in red or black? let or stop?  sled or car? dog or pet? Good job!
  4. “Now I want you to get out your boxes and letter.  We are going to spell some words.  Remember only one mouth move goes in each box.”  I will first model how to put each letter sound in the box and then give the students different words to put practice on their own.  “Okay, for the word /p/ /e/ /n/ I am going to put each letter/sound, mouth move, in one letterbox. Now I want you to try it.”  2-[Ed], 3-[bed, neck, ten] 4-[next, tent], 5-[slept, blend, crept].  Remember to put each word with a sentence. Monitor the students to make sure they are putting the correct letters in the boxes.  If they spell the word wrong repeat it the way they spelled it and see if they can correct it on their own.  If not then provide the word by modeling an explaining the correct spelling.
  5. Put the words from the letterbox lesson one at time on the board and have them read each word.  If the students are struggling with the word model for the students how to read the word on the board.  “For the word ten, I first would start with /e/, then add the /t//e/-/te/, and finally add the end of the word /te/n/- /ten/.”
  6. “You are doing a great job!  Now, we are going to read a book and listen for the /e/ sound.  We are going to read Pen Pals.  Let me tell you a little about it:  Baby Ben is in the pen and calls for his pet, Ted.  But Ted cannot get in the pen and Ben cannot get out.  They both yell for Dad.  Will Dad be able to help Ben and Ted?”  Put the students in partners and have them take turns reading the book to each other.
  7. Tell each student to write about a time when they have been in trouble and needed help.  Once they have finished I will check them and point out the words that have the /e/ sound.


Assessment:  I will have the children recognize the /e/ sounds in the message they wrote.  I will also have them read the first four pages of Pen Pals in order to see if they are able to identify the /e/ sound.  I will record their results with a running record.




Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. (1999) The Letterbox Lesson:  A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-656.


Pen Pals.  Educational Insights.


Boggs, Adrienne. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/begin/boggsbr.html. “E’s are E-E-E Excellent.”

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