A Fleet of Sheep


By: Amanda Palmer



Rationale:  Before children learn to read they must learn to break the alphabetic code. One of the steps towards recognizing that code is understanding how to recognize phonemes. In this lesson, children will learn the correspondence ee=/E/ in spoken and written words.


Materials: Elkonin Letterboxes, Letterbox letters (ee, n, d, w, k, s, b, f, r, l, t, c, p), pencils, Book: Lee and the Team by Shelia Cushman.  Poster with tongue twister: A fleet of sheep creep the steep street. Picture page including:  tree, knee, arm, eel, whale, peel, seed, sheep, and cow.



  1. Begin the lesson by telling the students that the written language is like a tricky code.  What makes this code so tricky is figuring out what the letters in the code mean.  The letters stand for mouth moves we make when we say different words.  Today we are going to work on the mouth move /E/.  There are a couple of different ways to write /E/ bit today we are going to work on ee. Remember, The short e says /e/ like the creaky door.  For example, e-e-e-g –g and f-e-e-ed.


  1. Tell children when two e’s are together in a word it makes the /E/ sound.


  1. Lets try a tongue twister:  “A fleet of sheep creep up a steep street”.  Now lets all say it together three times.  Now lets say it one more time and stretch out the /E/ sound. “ A fl-eeeee-t of sh-eeeee-p cr-eeeee-p up a st-eeeee-p str-eeeee-t”.  Fabulous job!


  1. Call on students to answer these questions:  Do you hear /E/ in street or road?  Tree or bush?  Eel or fish?  Peer or dock?  “Great job!” to each correct answer.  Now I am going to say our tongue twister one last time very slowly, I want you to raise your hand if you hear the /E/ in a word:  A fleet of sheep creep up a steep street.


  1. The class will now participate in a letterbox lesson using ee=/E/.  “ I would like for everyone to take out their letterboxes and letter tiles.  First, we are only going to have two boxes showing.” The teacher will have her larger letterboxes and letters for demonstration. Teacher: “I am going to make the word fee in my letterbox,  /f/ /E/, hmmm? Ohh! The /f/ goes in the first box.  /E/, hmmm?  I know that two e’s together will make /E/ so they must both go in the second box!”  The teacher demonstrates this where everyone can see in her large letterboxes.  Now lets try one with three boxes together.  Lets try the word beet.  “/B/ /E/ /T/, the b goes in our first box, the two e’s go in our middle box and the t belongs in our last box!”


  1. “Now I would like for you to makes the words I call out in your own letterboxes!”  Words for the lesson: (2) bee, tee, see. (3) week, seed, reel, leer (4) fleet, creep.  Write the words on the board, after the letterbox lesson read all of the words together.



  1. “We are going to read a story called Lee and the Team.  Lets look at the cover! Does any look familiar?  Good job!  I recognize the ee’s in the name Lee, too!”  Book Talk: “Lee is a boy who plays on a team.  This team is in a dilemma.  Lets find out what happens!” “Read the book to yourself, make sure to pay special attention to the words with /E/ in them”.  After reading the book the students will pair up with a partner and take turns reading the book.  Tell the students to make sure their partners are using the /E/ at the right time! 


  1. Assessment:  Walk around the class and listen to the partner reading of Lee and the Team.  Make sure the students are correctly recognizing the ee=/E/ correspondence.  When the students return to their seats a worksheet will be provided with pictures of things that may or may not have the /E/ sound in their name.  The class will go over the names of each picture as a group, however individual student must state whether or not the /e/ sound is included.




Cushman, Sheila.  (1990).  Lee and the Team.  Carson, CA: Educational Insights.  


McGill, Leslie.  “Lee and the Bee Flee to the Tree”. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/mcgillbr.html


Reading Genie Website http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/letbox.html