EEHHH! You’re Gonna Need to Speak Up!

Phoneme Awareness

By: Amanda Palmer

Rationale: Children need to know that letters represent phonemes and spellings map out these phonemes in spoken words.  Children need to know this to learn to read and spell words. Children must learn to recognize phonemes in spoken words before they can match letters to phonemes.  This lesson will help children identify /e/ (short e).  They will learn to identify /e/ in spoken words by learning a representation and a letter symbol, and then practicing finding /e/ in words.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; Chart with “Edger is an Excellent Elderly Expert”; “Red Gets Fed” (Educational Insights); picture pare with the words: leg, arm, ham egg, dress, and pants.


1.         Begin the lesson by telling the students that the written language is like a tricky code.  What makes this code so puzzling and tricky is figuring out what the letters in this code mean.  The letters actually stand for the mouth moves we make when we say different words.  Today we are going to decipher what makes the /e/ sound in our puzzle.  In the beginning, it may be hard to point out the /e/ sound in words, but as you unlock the code you will be able to recognize the /e/ in many different words.

2.       Ask students:  Have you ever talked to an older person who was hard of hearing?  When they could not hear you, they yelled /e/ “eeehhhh”. Let’s pretend that we can’t hear a person and say /e/. (Cuff your ear).  We say /e/ when we can’t understand someone who speaks softly.  Whisper: “can you say /e/”?

3.         Let’s say a tongue twister (chart).  “Edgar is an excellent elderly expert”.  Now everyone say it three times together.  This time             let’s stretch the /e/ at the beginning of the word. “Eeeedgar is an eeeexcelent eeelderly eeeexpert”.  Great, now lets break                 the /e/ sound off from the rest of the word.  “/e/ dgar is an /e/xcellent  /e/lderly  /e/xpert”.


4.       Now it is time for the primary paper and pencil.  The letter e spells the sound /e/.  Let’s try to 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.  Can I please see everyone’s e?  After I have looked at your e ’s I want you to make 5 more just like it.  Now you know when you see an e all by itself it makes the sound /e/.


5.         Here is an example of how to find the /e/ sound in the word stretch.  I will stretch out the word stretch and we will listen for             the person who is hard of  hearing.  s-st-str-e-tch. s-st-str-e-e-e-..... I think we found it.  I hear the person who is hard of                 hearing saying “eehhh!”


6.         Call on students to answer these questions:  Do you here /e/ in red or blue?  Bed or chair?  Leg or arm?  Fetch or throw? Ham or egg? Dress or skirt? Shred or rip?  “Great Job!” to each correct answer.  After each correct response identify the mouth move /e/ in each word.  “The person who was hard of hearing says /e/ in that word”.


7.         Read “Red Gets Fed” and discuss the story.  Reread the story and have students cuff their ear when they hear the /e/ sound in a word.  List the words they respond to on the board.  Have each student write a story about an adventure they would like to have with Red the dog using inventive spelling.  If time permits allow they to illustrate the story.


8.         Assessment:  Give the students a page with many pictures on it.  Go through and name each picture on the page to clarify any misunderstandings. Then have student’s circle the pictures of objects whose names have the /e/ sound.





Red Gets Fed, Carson, CA. Educational Insights, 1990.

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