Figure It Out With "Ehh?"

Beginning Reading

Mary Katherine Cooke


Rationale: One of the most important factors in predicting reading success in students is their ability to recognize phonemes. This lesson will teach the letter e and the phoneme /e/ with a gesture, tongue twister, and letterbox lesson.



Picture with an old man trying to hear to represent /e/


Strip with tongue twister written out: "Emmy the Eskimo ate eggs on the elevator."


Letterbox strip for each student


List of words for students to spell: Ed, egg, let, bed, mesh, lend.


Letter tiles for each student: e, d, g, g, l, t, b, m, s, h


Red Gets Fed


Primer paper


Writing utensils


List of paired words for evaluation



1.    Introduce the lesson. "Class, today we are going to learn a new sound." Write an e on the board. "This is the letter e.  It makes the /e/ sound, like in egg. Can every make that sound with me? Good!"

2.    Introduce the gesture that goes with "e." "Let's think about the sound we make when we are trying to hear someone better. We say ehhh? Try this sound with me. Great job! Every time we make this sound, lets put our hand to our ear like we're trying to hear someone. Repeat after me. Ehhh? Now you go. Good!"

3.    Go over tongue twister. Model the sentence by reading it first and then having the students read it normally. The next time they read it, we will add in the hand gesture and the students will exaggerate the /e/ sound. "Now I am going to show you all a silly tongue twister for us to practice our new sound." Put up strip with "Emmy the Eskimo ate eggs on the elevator." Read strip for students and have them repeat. "Now watch me read the sentence and try to listen with our hand every time I hear the /e/ sound. Eeeemy the Eeeskimo ate eeegs on the eeelevator. Now you all try. Don't forget to use our hand motion!"

4.    Have students ready for letterbox when we start the lesson. Have model box and letters written on the board. Model the word "blend" on the board. Have students work their list of words, observing and assisting when needed. "Okay boys and girls, we are going to do a letter box lesson similar to the one we did for the /a/ last week. First, watch me spell the word blend. Bbbblllleeeeennndddd. First, I hear the /b/ sound so I will place a "b" in the first box. Next I hear /l/, then eeeee… oh, /e/, our new sound today! After that, I hear /n/ and /d/ [place letters in box as I am talking]. Now you all are going to try a few words." Before calling out each word, have students change the number of boxes on their letterboxes. After I call out each word, give students time to solve it in their boxes. Check each word before moving on. List of words: 2- [Ed]. 3- [egg, let, bed]. 4- [mesh, lend]. Letters for each student: e, d, g, g, l, t, b, m, s, h.

5.    After we finish the LBL, we will read Red Gets Fed. "Okay boys and girls, now that we can spell and read some short e words, we are now going to read a book with our new /e/ sound. This book is about a little puppy who really wants his dinner! He asks everyone in the family- will anyone give him his food? Let's read together to find out. Every time you come across the /e/ sound, use your hand motion with your ear to figure out the sound."

6.    Once we finish the book, I will have each student write a message on primary paper. "Now that we have read our book, we are going to write a message! Because we just read about a dog eating dinner, we are going to write about a special dinner you have had with your family." The students should use inventive spelling when they write, and this will help me evaluate if they can make a connection with the story, as well as their phonemic awareness. Once students finish writing, they can draw a picture of their story.

7.    For evaluation I will have the students come to me individually while they are working on their message. They will listen to some pairs of words and then tell me which ones have the /e/ sound. "I have some pairs of words that I am going to read to you. For example, do you hear the /e/ sound in "map" or "wet"? How about "cot" or "Ted"? "Cake" or "shed"? "Let" or "read"? Evaluate how well students know the short /e/ sound. 

Eddie's Creaky Door. Hayle Lipham.

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