Open the Creaky Door

Emergent Literacy

Jennifer Lilly

Rationale: To learn to read and spell words, children need the alphabetic insight that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words. Before children can match letters to phonemes, they have to recognize phonemes in spoken words contexts. Short vowels are probably the toughest phonemes to identify. This lesson will help children identify /e/ (short e). They will learn to recognize /e/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and practice finding /e/ in words.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant”; drawing paper and crayons; Pen Pals (Educational Insight); picture page with sit, bell, bed, red, desk, egg, nest, pen, king, beg, hand, and ant.

Procedures: 1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for-the mouth move we make as we say words. Today we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /e/. At first /e/ will seem hidden in words, but as you get to know it, you will be able to spot /e/ in all kinds of words.

2. Ask students: Have you ever heard an old door say /e/? That is the mouth move we’re looking for in words. Let us pretend to sound the creaky door and say /e/. [Pretend to open a creaky door] Doors make the creaky noise when they are old. Make your creaky door sound: /e/.

 3. Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.” Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /e/ at the beginning of the words. “Eeeverybody saw Eeeddie and the Eeeskimo eeenter the eeelevator on the eeelephant.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word” /e/ verybody saw /e/ ddie and the /e/ skimo /e/ nter the /e/ levator on the /e/ lephant.

 4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We can use letter e to spell /e/. Let’s write it. Get in the center of the space below the fence, go toward the door [right], up to touch the fence, around and up. I want to see everybody’s e. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it. When you see letter e all by itself in a word, that is the signal to say /e/.

 5. Let me show you how to find /e/ in the word chest. I am going to stretch chest out in super slow motion listen for the creaky door. Ch-ch-ch-e-e-e-s-s-t. Ch-ch-ch-e-e-e… There it is! I do hear the creaky door /e/ in chest.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /e/ in bled or crab? Bent or drip? Ramp or send? Plant or left? Trick or smell? [Pass out a card to each student.] Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /e/ in some words. Open your creaky door if you hear /e/. Everybody, saw, Eddie, and, the, Eskimo, enter, the, elevator, on, the, elephant.

 7. Read Pen Pals and talk about the story. Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /e/. List their words on the board. Then have each student draw a door and write a message about it using invented spelling. Display their work.

 8. For assessment, distribute the picture page and help students name each picture. Ask each student to circle the picture whose names have /e/.

Reference: Murray, Bruce.  The Reading Genie.


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