Edward’s Elephants


Leslie Myer

Beginning Reading

Rationale: Children with a good foundation of phonemic awareness need explicit and systematic phonics instruction in order to be able to read.  Beginning readers need to know that that words are made of sounds.  They also need to know the correspondences between written letters and their phonemes. Because all words contain vowels, it is usually best to begin teaching vowels.    Short vowels are the easiest to teach because they are most commonly found in words with only one vowel.  This lesson will focus on e= /e/.  Students will review the short e sound, and then they will move on to learn that the letter e, when by itself says /e/.  Then the students will practice spelling and reading words with the /e/ sound. 


Primary paper and pencil

Drawing paper and crayons

Poster with “Every elephant that Edward fed eggs asked to enter the red elevator.”

Cushman, S. Red Gets Fed.  Educational Insights, 1990.

Elkonin boxes for each student and one big set for teacher to use on board

Lower case letter tiles [b, d, e, g (x2), h, l(x2), m, n, p, s (x2), t] for each child and 1 big set for teacher

Picture page for assessment- pictures of desk, nest, leg, sled, bed, and net.  It will have drawn letter boxes by each word, so children can use them as scaffolding to spell the picture words.


1.  Introduce the lesson by explaining that reading is a special code where the letters we see tell our mouths what sounds to make.  All the sounds put together make up the words we read. Today we are going to work on the sound we make when we see the letter e in a word by itself.

2.  Ask students: “Have you ever heard a creaky door say /e/?  That’s the mouth move we are looking for today in our words.  Let’s pretend to be a creaky door and say /e/.  (Make a creaky door motion with hands.)  Let’s hear your creaky door once more: “eeehhh”.

3.  Let’s try a tongue twister (on poster).  “Every elephant that Edward fed eggs asked to enter the red elevator.”  Everybody say it three times together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /e/ hear in the words and make your creaky door motion.  “Eeeevery eeeelephant that Eeeedward feeeed eeeeggs asked to eeeenter the reeeed eeeelevator.”  Try it again and this time break it off the word: “/e/ very /e/ lephant that /e/ dward f /e/ d /e/ ggs, asked to /e/ nter the r /e/ d /e/ levator.”

4.  (Have students take out primary paper and pencil.)  We can use the 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.  Start just under the fence.  I want to see everyone’s e.  After I look at yours, I want you to make nine more just like it.  When you see letter e all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /e/.

5.  Let me show you how to find /e/ in the word bed.  I’m going to stretch bed out in slow motion and I want you to listen to see if you hear the creaky door.  B-b-b-e-d.  b-b-b-e-e-e-…There it is! I do hear a creaky door say /e/ in bed.

6.  “Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /e/ in some words.   Make your door creak if you hear /e/.  Use the words: web, house, bed, couch, egg, and sit.

7.  Now let’s try spelling some words with /e/ in them.  Pass out letterboxes and letters to each child.  Model on teacher set the word red.  I am going to spell a word with three sounds, so I need three boxes.  I am going to spell the word red.  Say the word slowly so the students can hear each phoneme.  I am going to put one sound in each box.  /r/ /e/ /d/.  I hear the /r/ sound first, we use the letter r for that sound.  Oh! I hear the creaky door /e/ sound next, that must mean the letter e goes in the middle box.  /d/ is for d and it goes in the last box.  Look! I spelled red!  Now I want you to try spelling some words for me.  Use the words egg, pet, end, less, hen, best, smell, step, and spent (just for fun).

8.  Now let’s read some words together. Model reading the word egg.  Sound out each phoneme like this:  eeeee-ggggg. Write the other words on the board.  Mix them up a little so they aren’t in the same order as before.  If the students have trouble on a word, model how to sound out each letter.

9.  Give book talk on Red Gets Fed and have students read it.  Book talk:  We are going to read a story about a dog that is really hungry.  Let’s see if he gets fed.  Have students read it again, this time all together out loud.  Then have each student draw a dog and write a message about it.  Display their work.

10.  For assessment, distribute the picture page and have students spell each word using the letter boxes on the page. 


Adams, M.J. (1990) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print.  Center for the study off Reading and the Reading Research and Education Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign.

Anna Ludlum.  Eggs in Bed?  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insp/ludlumbr.html

Cushman, S.  Red Gets Fed.  Educational Insights, 1990.

Murray, B. A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-on Approach to Teaching Decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52. 644-650.

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