/e/ it must be old

Lauren Rockwell

Beginning Reading Plan


Once children become beginner readers they need explicit, systematic phonics to become successful decoders.  Students must grasp the correspondences between the written letter and its phoneme.  It is important for students to learn vowels because there are no words that can be spelled without vowels.  In this lesson, students will learn the correspondence e = /e/.  The student will practice the vocal gesture and the written letter and apply their learned information to reading books.  


Chart with tongue twister “Ed the Elephant gets fed.”
Primary paper for each student (2 sheets per student)
Pencils for each student
Chalk and board for teacher
Class set of Elkonin boxes
Class set of letter manipulatives (r,e,d,y,s,m,t,n,c,k,g,b,p,l,l)
Teacher’s Elkonin boxes and letters
Overhead Projector
Class set of Pen Pals


1.Introduce the lesson by explaining to the students that our written language is a secret code.  Today, we are going to try to break the code.  We can break the code if we learn that our mouth moves in different ways when we say different letters.  We are going to be able to know how our mouth moves when we see an e in a book. 

2.Has anyone ever been to an old house and heard the door creak open?  When I hear the old door creak, I hear /e/.  Let’s all pull the creaky door open and hear the /e/.  Do you feel the way your mouth moves when you open the creaky door?  You just open you mouth slightly and your tongue sits on the bottom. 

3.Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart) using the /e/ sound.  (Model first).  “Ed the Elephant gets fed.”  Can we say it three times together?  Good job!  Let’s say it a little different.  When we hear /e/ stretch it out and pull the creaky door open. Eeed the Eeelephant geeets feeed. 

4.I am going to give you two words and I want you to tell me which word has the /e/ sound.  Raise your hand if you know which word it is.  If I say Exit or Stop? I will choose Eeexit because I hear the creaky door.  Let’s go:  Check or cash?  Blue or Red?  Bed or Couch?  Eat or Fed?  Ted or Mary?  Great job! 

5.Please take out you primary paper and your pencil.  We are going to keep working at breaking this code.  We are going to use the letter e to spell /e/.  Let’s learn to write it.  (Demonstrate on board).  Watch how I start at the space between the fence and sidewalk.  I am going to go over to the right circle up to hit the fence and take it back around.  You try it.  I am going to walk around and see everyone’s e’s.  After I see your paper I want you to write the letter e five times.  When you see the letter e all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /e/. 

6.Now we are going to work on spelling some words with e=/e/.  We are going to use letterboxes.  Each box stands for a different mouth move.  I am going to show you how to use these boxes.  I am going to use a word with 3 mouth moves.  How many boxes should I have?  Good I should have 3.  (Demonstrate using overhead projector so everyone can see).  I am going to spell the word /r/ /e/ /d/.  The first sound I hear is /r/, so I am going to put an r.  Then I hear that creaky door /e/, so I am going to put an e.  The last thing I hear is /d/, so I am going to put a d in the last box.  Now I want you to practice spelling some words.  (Teacher will monitor spellings).  The words include 2-[Ed], 3-[yes, met, neck, get, bed], 4-[step, smell] 5-[slept].  After spelling the words the teacher will put the spelled words (without letterboxes) on the overhead projector so the students can read the words.  Teacher will demonstrate reading the words and then have students read the words all together.  “Let me show you how to read a word.  Let’s look at this word. (Put the word step on the board).  I see that creaky door /e/.  (Cover up the p and show the student ste).  Now we have /ste/.  Let’s look at the last letter.  (Uncover p). We have a /p/.  /ste/ /p/.  Good /step/.”  (Use vowel first, body coda). 

7.We are going to read a book today that has the creaky door sound.  The book is called Pen Pals.  Do you have a favorite pet?  Well, today we are going to read about Ben and his cat Ted.  They are both upset because they cannot get into the play pen together.  They yell for Dad to see if he can help.  Let’s read to see if Dad can help them.  Have students get into partners.  They will take turns reading together.  While partners are reading the teacher will pull a small group to read and discuss the book.

8.After reading the students will write a message about their favorite pet or a pet that they wish they had.  (Students will be rotating in stations from partner reading, writing, and small group). 

9.For an assessment the teacher will have students take turns reading when the small groups are pulled.  The teacher will note the miscues of individual students as they read.  Also, to make sure students understand the correspondence, the teacher will make an informal assessment by observing students spellings during the letterbox lesson. 


Adams, Marilyn J. (1990). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.  A

Summary. Center for the Study of Reading: Urbana-Champaign, IL. Page 59-71

& 78  

Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. (1999) “The Letterbox Lesson:  A hands-on approach for

teaching decoding.” The Reading Teacher, 644-650. 

Pen Pals, Carson, Educational Insights, 1990 P.1-8

Tippett, Dorsey. Reading Genie Website. “Let’s help the E out.”


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